Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 23, 2018

Community Medical Supply: ‘There when you need them’

Nov 02, 2017
President Pat Smith and Chief Executive Officer Brooke Davis said the availability of fast service from a local company could be critical to those with severe medical needs.The business has operated in Washington since 1997.

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


The baby boomers, the group that didn’t trust anyone over 30, are reaching the age of retirement and that is good for the medical supply business.

As a group, the boomers enjoy both longevity and good health. That fortunate combination provides them with more living options than were available to their parents. Many of them, post-retirement, continue living unaided or with minimal help.

Community Medical Supply Inc., located at 505 Highway 1 South in Washington, can help them maintain the self-sufficiency they value.

“Our business is aimed at keeping people in their home longer. We want to help them be as independent as possible,” said Pat Smith, president of Community Medical Supply. “It’s a growth industry in that the baby boomers are growing older. The need for medical supplies is growing substantially.

The business has operated in Washington since 1997, offering a wide variety of home medical, respiratory, rehabilitation equipment and durable medical supplies for those who need assistance in their homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

“We purchased Fritz Medical Supply in 1997 and operated our business in downtown Washington until 2003, when we moved to our present location,” said Smith.

The business is located at 505 Highway 1 South. It also has an Iowa City store at 2901 Northgate Drive, Suite B.

Smith and company Chief Executive Officer Brooke Davis said the availability of fast service from a local company could be critical to those with severe medical needs.

“We can give explanations of how equipment works and train our customers in the use of it. When something goes wrong, we will take care of our customers,” Davis said.

Like many local businesses, Community Medical Supply must contend with online competitors. the firm doesn’t disparage its competition, but it does remind customers of the challenge of obtaining the right medical equipment.

“Patients should beware of online promises. You often get what you pay for. They should evaluate the product. If it is something that needs continuing service, they need to be aware of that,” Smith said.

An additional factor a customer should consider is the need for the correct assembly of equipment. If it is not installed properly, it won’t work properly.

Also of concern is the need to monitor and inspect the equipment after installation.

“Oxygen is a prescriptive medicine just like the prescriptions people take to the pharmacy. The dosage has to be correct. The treatment of sleep apnea is similar. Settings need to be correct and maintained for the equipment to operate properly,” Smith said.

The company seeks to build lasting relationships with its customers by going out and visiting them regularly.

Service the company offers includes: 24-hour emergency service, evaluation of client for specialized products, evaluation of client’s home for wheelchair accessibility, labor for warranty repair of defective products, nine county pickup and delivery of product, billing of primary or secondary payer sources, reworking of denied claims, preparing compliance reports for doctors and insurance companies, user compliance reports, product and technology training for physicians and therapists, cleaning of equipment, loaner products while client’s product is in for service, respiratory health education to seniors in assisted living centers, providing oxygen conserving devices for client’s ease of portability of O2, and accepting Medicare assignment.

The supplies they offer include oxygen and respiratory supplies, wheelchairs, hospital beds, orthopedic supplies, power wheelchairs and scooters, walkers ad rollators, lift chairs, bathroom safety products and sleep apnea treatments.

The company has a motto that should be important to everyone whose life is dependent upon medical equipment.

Their motto, ‘we’re there when you need us,’ is a guarantee of professional, prompt service for its customers.

It is not unusual for patients to call him for service when equipment purchased from another vendor fails. They usually need to contact their original supplier, he said.

Community Medical Supply is accredited through the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation. To qualify, the business hosts on-site inspections and maintains a manual of policies and procedures that meet the accrediting agency’s guidelines.

Additionally, the staff receives continuous training to keep its skills up to date.

As an accredited medical supply provider, the business works closely with customers for insurance billings with Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies.

The insurance requirements have become increasingly burdensome, Smith said.

“The days when someone could walk in with a prescription and walk out with a product are over,” he said.

The staff works with the doctors, patients and insurance providers to ensure its customers obtain the benefits they are entitled to receive. He said this can take perseverance on the part of his staff and the patient.

Smith and Davis enjoy the business.

“We never have a boring day. There is something new all the time. You have to be open to change. Health care is constantly changing,” Smith said.

“The reward we get is helping the patient. We have an overwhelming desire to help people with their health issues,” he said. “It can be a challenge, but it’s a good feeling when you can help someone with a difficult issue get what they need.”

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