›› The woman behind the region’s leading home healthcare service is a registered nurse with an M.B.A. and an entrepreneur’s passion. Susanne S. Wise founded Take Care in 1995 with limited funds, leased office space and a dream to run her own healthcare agency. “I am not a risk taker,” she says. “I am very conservative, but I went with what I loved so I could combine my nursing with my business.” Take Care today employs about 600 people, serves about 400 clients and has annual revenues of $15.7 million. The company, which is headquartered in a Sarasota medical office park on Bee Ridge Road, provides private duty home healthcare, geriatric care management and wheelchair stretcher transportation.
Did you ever think you’d have 600 employees? It was a surprise. I don’t see anything unusual about what I do. When I started, nearly 15 years ago, I had been open three weeks and I was doing everything myself—visits, accounting, everything. I remember turning to my husband and saying I didn’t care if I ever made a penny because I was so happy. Of course it does help to have an income.
What is your biggest challenge? The most wonderful thing about what I do is dealing with people, and the biggest challenge is dealing with people. Lots of different personalities, different needs. It is the best part and the hardest part.
What is private duty home healthcare and how do people pay for it? There is Medicare home healthcare and there is private duty home healthcare. We provide private duty home healthcare; we do not take Medicare. People pay us out of some form of insurance, such as long-term care coverage, workers’ comp or personal income such as savings. If a person has limited resources, we try to help them find funding to cover the cost of our services. Two funding sources might be Veterans Administration assistance or an Alzheimer’s Association grant.
What is your market share? I don’t know. My focus has never been to see how much we could grow. Our goals are not related to numbers. But we are certainly the largest nurse-owned privately held company for home healthcare on the Gulf Coast. And we are the leading regional private duty home healthcare company with locations in Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice.
What goal have you not yet achieved? Balance between my work and my home. I have to push myself to try and reach that balance. That is a wonderful problem to have. I love my work and I love my home life, being with my three grown daughters and my husband and my family.
Guilty pleasures? I probably appear to be a Type A personality who is go-go-go. But I think I could sit and watch movies 24 hours a day, day after day, and I would be just fine. I hate to own up to it but I also love to watch TV, whether it’s CNN or some love story or whatever. If I had my druthers, I would sit in front of a TV forever. ■