Pamela Jones has been a lot of things, including a hairdresser. Her entry into home medical equipment (HME) came in 2002, when she and her family decided to exit the restaurant supply business, move to Colorado from Washington, D.C., and open their business, which they named Home Medical Supplies.
“My brother-in-law and my sister knew somebody that was in the business, and they thought it sounded interesting,” Jones said. “And when they talked to my husband and I about it, we were fascinated by that and just felt drawn to it.”
Today, four of Jones’s children and several nieces and nephews work for the company.
Jones is driven by a desire to help people live better lives. In fact, being able to help people was one of the things that drew her to the HME industry, though the path hasn’t always been simple or easy.
“We started with diabetic testing supplies and almost went out of business when [competitive] bidding started,” Jones said. “So there’s a real commitment to this business because we didn’t give up. We just kept forging forward and started to diversify and to build the business into what it is today.”
Home Medical Supplies now supplies all manner of HME, but Jones said there’s a special place in her heart for pediatric clients. That’s partly because when the company was struggling at the onset of competitive bidding, Jones said, Children’s Hospital of Colorado helped keep the doors open.
“Children’s Hospital reached out one day for a wheelchair. … The hospital saw us [and noticed we] we could help with their Medicaid patients,” Jones said. “There was a time back when the fax machine was going, and every time I’d hear the fax machine go off, I knew it was Children’s Hospital sending us an order.”
“It has been such a privilege to work with them over the years, and I hope that we’ve been able to give back what they gave to us,” she added.
Jones’s passion for helping people hasn’t stopped with selling medical equipment. It has grown into a desire to help shape the HME industry and the policies that affect providers’ day-to-day business.
Jones is currently treasurer for the Colorado Association for Medical Equipment Services (CAMES) and sits on several committees and subcommittees for the American Association for Homecare.
At CAMES, Jones, who is on the Policy Committee, considers one of the team’s greatest victories to be building relationships with the Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) coming into the state. Each state has slightly different laws for HME providers, which was causing issues with the federal RAC program.
“They were doing audits that were causing issues for [providers in] Colorado,” Jones said. “We have been working with the Attorney General’s office and Medicaid to try to better these programs so that we’re all on the same page, so there’s a better understanding of what’s being said versus what’s being audited. … Had we not gone in as CAMES and fought this, I don’t know that we would have been able to see the progress that is being made at this time.”
Those audits are one of Jones’ and the industry’s biggest challenges, but Jones said there’s always a great reward when all the paperwork is finished, the physician education is completed and the patient gets to return home. A smoother process for everyone is a major change Jones wants to see across the health
“When we are able to succeed and have those human experiences with our patients and find joy in their successes and their healing; when we get to go pick up the hospital bed because they’ve healed properly—there’s actually great joy that comes from that when you know that somebody has had optimal healing,” she said.