(When my husband Daren, our son Brandon, and I moved from Michigan to Central Oregon, we saw a definite need we could fill, given the area’s large number of veterans,” explained Patricia Lucas | Photo courtesy of Interim HealthCare)
More than 300,000 veterans live in Oregon, and of those, 20,000 are in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties — a number that encompasses World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the two Gulf Wars. A significant percentage have a disability.*
“Given what veterans have done for our country, this is certainly a population that deserves the very best in compassionate and comprehensive care,” asserted Patricia Lucas, who — with her husband and adult son — owns the Interim HealthCare franchise serving all of Central Oregon. Over half of their clients are veterans, who receive home care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We specialize in providing professional caregivers to come into the home of our clients and assist them with maintaining their independence — by helping with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, toileting, medication reminders, incidental transportation, running errands, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, change of linens and driving to doctor appointments,” she explained.
Interim HealthCare also has programs in fall prevention, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and offers skilled nursing services as needed, with two RNs on staff.
Lucas, who is director of Sunriver/La Pine Economic Development (SLED) — in addition to parleying her degree in accounting to handle assessment, marketing and payroll for the business — knows first-hand what veterans can face. “My Dad served in combat during World War II, received a Purple Heart, and was disabled as a result of his service,” she said.
“When my husband Daren, our son Brandon, and I moved from Michigan to Central Oregon, we saw a definite need we could fill, given the area’s large number of veterans,” continued Lucas. “And representing Interim HealthCare, a national organization with a 55-year track record in providing excellent client satisfaction, really resonated with us. Especially for my son, who has always been a kind and compassionate man with a heart for caring for others — as well as an entrepreneurial mindset.”
It took a year for the family to obtain their license, as “it’s a pretty rigorous process to get through in Oregon, second only to California,” she said. “And once we got underway, none of us anticipated that there would be so much demand for care and caregivers. Our client list grew 300 percent by our second year, and we’re on target to grow an additional 25-50 percent in 2022.”
Because Interim HealthCare, according to Lucas, “has three or four times as many requests for care than can be accommodated, we’re recruiting all the time, and even offer a signing bonus. Wages have also gone up considerably in order to stay competitive, and we’ve begun offering other employee benefits as well.”
Yet despite the challenges of running Interim HealthCare, which at first seemed “overwhelming,” Lucas affirmed that “it is heartwarming to be able to help other people.” And as a supreme compliment: “One of our caregivers is actually a veteran who really liked what we were doing.”
*U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs; U.S. Census Bureau 2019 America Community Survey