MARCH 2016

Filipino-owned home health care makes it to “100 TOP Work Places”

ABOVE PHOTO: The officers and the employees of MedPro posing after their weekly staff meeting at their headquarters in Tinley Park. (PINOY Photo by Anong)

By Mariano "Anong" Santos

CHICAGO--You are forewarned this story of a Filipino American-owned home health care agency is NOT about fraud or someone sentenced to prison. Surprisingly, it actually brings good and positive news.

Recently, the venerable Chicago Tribune came out with a list of its annual list of “100 TOP Work Places.”

Included along with brand names like Charles Schwab, Ernst & Young, Microsoft and Swissotel is a company named, “MedPro Health Providers.” Selections are from three categories--those with no more than 250 workers, then those with no more than 500 and those with 500 or more.

Ranked No. 7

The five year-old MedPro ranked 7th among those in the first category. Considering the unfavorable and embarrassing news associated with home health care agencies owned by Filipino Americans, we could not be faulted if we are surprised to learn that MedPro is not owned by one but FOUR kababayans.

Corporate lawyers in the area thrive just preparing separation agreements on quarreling partners of Filipino-owned companies—especially home health care agencies. Many ventures owned by more than one Pinoy just don’t last. That certainly makes MedPro-- a business phenomenon worth exploring.

So what makes one a TOP Work Place? In a detailed survey sent out by the Tribune, questions are listed primarily geared into knowing a company’s work policy and actual practice in creating a healthy environment for their employees to thrive happily in their work places.

In talking with MedPro President/CEO, Riz Villaseñor at their office in Tinley Park, a suburb in the southwest of Chicago, I was informed that his company has a “Growing Up Clinic” that helps its employees and their children to improve their physical, emotional and intellectual potentials. Psychologists, therapist and trainers are involved in their growth. “A day care center in MedPro’s HQ is also in the works,” added Villaseñor.

No Secret

Further, he said, “MedPro also discovered the benefits of bringing parents and even grandparents to work, so they get a better appreciation and understanding of what their respective children do at their place of work.” To achieve this, MedPro has started a “Take Your Parents To Work Day”, where parents came to watch and sit with their children after a short presentation on MedPro, its values and processes.

On a recent Monday morning that I sat down with the work force, representatives from MassMutual Financial were giving free presentation about the need to start retirement funds in anticipation of supplementing future Social Security benefits. MedPro’s 401K plan will be available to qualified employees by Feb 15.

It was followed by a weekly report from Villaseñor about the state of their company. The attendance from the work force is impressively big. He started with a brief reminder about the MedPro culture which is summed up in an acronym, EPIC , which translated to Ethical, People-Driven, Innovative and Compassionate.

Then he moved on with the operating principles which Villaseñor enumerated as Trust, Transparency and Accountability. He earlier shared to me that the secret of their success is “there is no secret.” He proved that during the meeting by calling on his top ranking staffers to report on where their company stands at that date.

I soon learned that the company has 243 active employees and partners plus 372 independent contractors which include registered nurses, physical therapists, doctors and administrative personnel.

No Kickback

MedPro has an average of 20-30 referrals a day and an average of 210 monthly admissions and they discharge an average of 150 patients monthly. “Yes, we make patients well and we have a weekly discharge planning meeting,” according to Villaseñor. The past January broke a record of 231 admissions. In 2015, the company had 1991 total admissions. It processes 2000 clinical notes a week. Numbers that would elicit envy in the home health care industry. MedPro serves not only Medicare beneficiaries but also Medicaid and almost all managed care companies, where reimbursements are not as lucrative as Medicare patients. “You have to be in this business for the right reasons, in MedPro we don’t ask how much reimbursements do we get from a patient, but we ask How much care does the patient need?” Villaseñor adds.

In the meeting four women marketers (curiously, no Filipina) reported their activities from their market area of 11 counties—all from the contiguous counties of Northeast Illinois. The referrals are mostly from physicians from major hospital. No hustling in senior activity centers or the like.

Villaseñor confided that at one time a person wanted to refer a patient and asked on how much he will get in “referral fee” which is actually a kick back. He was promptly shut off. The referrer was tactfully told that is not allowed by Medicare rules and regulation.

“You mean, no casino betting money for our dear doctors?,” I jokingly said. Villasenor shook his head and said, ”We attract more business because of our ethical principles. We gain referring physicians’ trust because of our transparency and accountability. Maximizing our use of the latest technology afforded us to open our books not only with doctors we work with but also among the partners in the company.”

He added that the company accountants are under instruction to readily open the books in anticipation of any questions on finances. This is the secret why he and his three partners are still together. “Trust is invaluable,” he repeated all over again.

Riz Villasenor used to work for Ohio-based Cardinal Health, a 100 billion dollar healthcare company listed in the New York Stock Exchange. He is thankful for the corporate lessons he learned from this huge health provider.

When he moved to the Chicago area in 2009, he was introduced by his cousin, Dr. Maria Rhodora Chan to Philip Castillo (a Medical Technologist), Tony Ocampo (a Registered Nurse) who were on the verge of venturing into home health care.

After brainstorming about what they wanted to see in such kind of business, they decided they would bond together and create the company that is no like any other. MedPro was founded in 2009. Riz’s wife, Marilou, another registered nurse, would be made Director of Nursing. Philip’s wife, Ana, and Tony’s wife, Evelyn, are also RNs who are involved in the company.

Dr. Chan and her husband Jaye Chan have recently moved to the West Coast and he retained his interest in the company and also working remotely to help out in its Therapy Department. All partners get credit for their “sweat equity.” (In a manner of diversification, the three partners who are in Illinois and their spouses took over the struggling “Philippine Cuisine” in Crestwood, Illinois. They renovated it and renamed it “Sandok n Palayok” and opened to a favorable review from diners.

This venture is clearly a concession to Riz’s passion for cooking. He has a long list of concepts that he thinks will bring memorable dining experience. Philip takes care of the ‘karaoke” entertainment while Tony –the day to day operation. They look forward to expand to a combination sari sari-restaurant operation to serve the growing Filipino community in the Chicago southwest suburbs.

Riz is a natural leader and entrepreneur. An honor student coming out of Boac, Marinduque, his brilliance was noticed by the then Local Government
secretary in late 1970s. He became a head of the Kabataang Barangay in Marinduque. Riz holds an MBA from Ateneo and a Master Degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines.

He worked as a realtor in the Los Angeles area in the late 1980s, then moved to Ohio until he settled in llinois. He and his wife Marilou have two children, Rimar, 27, presently working at Wall Street in New York and a daughter Mariz, 23, an incoming graduate student in Speech Therapy.

Rizaldy (his full name) Villaseñor’s academic credential, experience and sound business principles plus his ability to partner with the right people are the potent ingredients in achieving the success that MedPro Health Providers has achieved.

The recipe is no secret. Riz and his associates want those who are in this business of providing crucial health care in the community to put the best interest of their patients as their top priority. Along with that is to give importance to the roles of their workers in achieving the mission of one’s company.

Riz is never shy to share the message. Do things correctly and success follows. It’s for the common good. He truly wishes everyone in the industry well.


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