David Cowart and Michelle Aguilera own Ballinger Home Health and Hospice of Ballinger and recently moved to a newly renovated building downtown at 9th/Hutchins. The ribbon cutting ceremony was at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 22nd and was attended by members of the Chamber of Commerce, employees and residents from throughout the county. In total about 40 people attended the ribbon cutting and many more came in throughout the afternoon to check out the new location.
Cowart handled the renovations personally while Aguilera, who is the administrator, ran the business.
Cowart said purchasing the building was just the first step because the company’s fleet of vehicles would need parking and there would not be enough parking along the street and in front of the other merchants, “Buying this building meant that we needed to purchase the building behind it as well so we’d have a place to park the company vehicles. We definitely didn’t want to interfere with the businesses of the other merchants.”
The business has grown significantly since it first opened on 7th street in 1985 and eventually settled at the Keel drug building in 2013. Cowart says that soon after, they started looking for other locations, “The hospital was great to us. The Keel drug location was fantastic but it was time to move and the lease was ending so we bought this building in 2017.” The energy efficient building is lit inside with custom LED lighting. The cabinets in the break room were custom built. The stonework was done in a way that enhances the history of the building while looking to the future, such as retaining and retouching the Coca Cola logo on the south side of the building. As a testament to the building’s energy efficiency, Cowart says that the gas heating bill has been low, “We’ve averaged a little less than $40 per month for the gas bill.” The significance in that is that the office space of the building is approximately 7,000 square feet. There is a second floor that will soon be renovated, “The way it’s going, we’re going to need to eventually turn that second floor into office space.”
Cowart says that one of the goals was adding some beauty to downtown, “We decided that if we were going to move downtown, we were going to be an asset.” The work began in November of 2017 with Cowart overseeing every aspect of the renovation, “It took us about 18 months but we did all of it ourselves.”
Home health is an industry that is growing at a breathtaking place. It’s estimated that in the next 7 years the home health industry will grow by 54%, adding 738,20 jobs in the nation. The most significant contributing factor is age. According to projections from the US Census Bureau, the number of people over 65 will grow from the 43 million in 2012 to 84 million by 2050, rising from 14% of the population to 21%. The average age in Runnels County is increasing as well with the current average age being 41.8 years old. Ballinger Home Health is addressing that growth now with the new building and the room for further expansion that it offers. The company presently employees about 40 people, making it one of the largest employers in the county.
Cowart says that the cost of home health as opposed to a hospital stay is significant, “It costs around $8,000 per day for a hospital stay. Home health costs less than $200 per day. That’s you, in the comfort of your home and being visited by a nurse as opposed to lying in a hospital. In the last 5 ½ years our home health business has doubled and our hospice has tripled.” Cowart has witnessed the growth first-hand because he started with the company as the CFO in 1997.
Cowart says another aspect that sets Ballinger Home Health and Hospice apart is that they don’t travel outside a certain radius to see patients, “Our patients are within about 30 minutes of Ballinger. We don’t want patients 2 hours away having to wait on us to get there if they need something. We are able to be there quickly. And if you’re a hospice patient, you don’t ant to wait 90 minutes for someone to come to you if you are in pain. We’re all going to face our mortality some day and we want to treat people with dignity. With us, if someone passes away, the family doesn’t have to wait 3 hours for the body to be released for pickup.”
You can see and hear the professionalism and caring in the way the staff talks and interacts with each other and with the community members that attended the ribbon cutting. There are LVNs, RNs and physical therapist and they all compliment each other with their work ethic.
Physical therapy is an important area of Ballinger Home Health and Hospice. Whether you’re recovering from heart surgery, joint replacement, respiratory surgery, etc., the company has therapists for all of it. Again, the patient is in the comfort of their own home and the therapists come to them.
Jessica Smith, an RN with Ballinger Home Health and Hospice says that the nurses get to know their patients and can usually tell if something is different about them, “Since we spend a lot of time with our patients we get to know them well and can tell if there is something out of the norm about that patient during a visit.”
Cowart spends the afternoon of the ribbon cutting giving tours to members of the community himself and showing off the large amount of work that went into the building. As people stop in and filter through in groups of 4s and 5s, Cowart takes a moment to sum up the Ballinger Home Health and Hospice perspective, “We have been blessed with community support. We try to be good citizens. This community has given as much to me, and to Ballinger Home Health as we’ve given to it. The defining thing about this community is that you don’t just live here, you are part of the community.”
The phone number for Ballinger Home Health is (325) 365-3889 and the website is www.ballingerhomehealth.com