In 10 years, Deborah Tinsley has grown her home health care business from a single pediatric patient to more than 500 employees in 78 counties.
Mrs. Tinsley, 55, and her husband, David, have been married for almost 19 years. Both have nursing degrees from The University of Texas at Tyler and have been in home health care since 1994. When Mrs. Tinsley was a nursing student, she got a job at a dialysis center, where she met her husband, who trained her.
Mrs. Tinsley said that when her granddaughter was born 13 years ago, she was on a ventilator for a time and she realized there was a need for that type of service to be offered to children in their homes. She developed a pediatric program for the home health care agency for which she and her husband worked.
Tinsley told her, “If you did it for them, you can do it for us,” she said. “We wanted the opportunity to take care of kids and the nursing staff.”
At that time, families often didn’t know who was coming to their home to care for their child, there was no continuity of care and nurses didn’t have benefits. Mrs. Tinsley changed all of that with Exceptional Home Care.
On Nov. 4, 2002, Mrs. Tinsley opened the doors to her business and on Nov. 5, 2002, admitted her first patient. She said that patient followed her from the company she left to build her own business and remains a patient.
When starting her business, the Tinsleys sought help through Tyler Junior College’s Tyler Area Business Incubator
Exceptional Home Care offers mostly private duty nursing but also offer other services. They do therapy for about 400 children, she said.
They also offer temporary services, such as caring for a child with a broken leg.
Mrs. Tinsley said she has started a Community Based Alternatives program to retain patients who have outgrown the children’s program.
Exceptional Home Care employees include attendants, nurses and therapists. It serves counties spanning Oklahoma to Louisiana, past Fort Worth and down to Nacogdoches. Mrs. Tinsley recently expanded her service areas from Waco down to Austin and San Antonio.
Although Exceptional Home Care is based in Tyler, at 1510 E. Grande Blvd., she has an administrative office in Arlington. Mrs. Tinsley also has employees in all the areas her business serves so they can be close to where the children live. She also has registered nurses who work as case managers to oversee the children’s care in the areas they serve.
She said her family has been very supportive of the business. Her daughter, brother, father and son-in-law even work for her and she considers her other employees part of the family as well, she said.
The Tinsleys have one daughter, Kimberly Ralph, 33, and three granddaughters, Katlynn, 13, Gracie, 9, and Allison, 5. Mrs. Tinsley said she hopes one day her granddaughters will take over the family business.
She said she has been amazed at how easy it has been working daily with her husband. While he is laid back, she is spontaneous and always running. She has the knowledge of having to deal with Medicaid, the children and their care while he knows the ins and outs of the financial side of the business. Those things that make them different help to balance each other.
Mrs. Tinsley’s Administrator, Audra Whitton has been with her since the beginning and she has really great people who work for her, she said.
“Deborah had a dream to provide for children with special needs,” Ms. Whitton said in a prepared statement. “She fought the battles of success and has won. She has prayed, laughed and cried, but most of all, she has given of herself.”
Finding the right people and keeping up with the business’ growth has been a struggle. “But I feel like this past year has really been a milestone for us. We’ve really got things together and the right people in the right places,” she said.
Mrs. Tinsley said that with the looming changes in health care, there are concerns, but she plans to continue to grow her business.
“We take care of children,” she said. “The kids are always going to need us.”
If you know of a professional woman or business service in Tyler you think should be highlighted in this column, contact me at email@example.com or 903-596-6289.