Phil Castle, The Business Times
Jenna Noem describes entrepreneurial success as a two-step process: “Find something you’re passionate about, then you just do it better than anyone else.”
There still a lot of small stuff to which to attend, of course. But for Noem, the big picture remains the big thing. She makes a convincing case with her experience in combining her passion for nursing with her commitment to not only better clinical outcomes, but also the overall well-being of her patients. The operation she co-founded in 2011 to provide health care services to uranium and nuclear weapons production workers has grown to more than a dozen states and counting.
Noem, chief executive officer of Nuclear Care Partners based in Grand Junction, was recognized for her efforts in receiving the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award presented during the Entrepreneurship Day luncheon at Colorado Mesa University. The CMU Business Department presents the annual award to a local entrepreneur who starts or expands a venture, contributes to the economic development of the area and exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Noem says receiving the award from CMU was especially gratifying because she earned her nursing degree there. Moreover, the award validates her work and the work of her staff. “For us, it’s incredibly affirming to be recognized by our community.”
Nuclear Care Partners provides in-home services to uranium and nuclear weapons production workers under federal laws providing benefits to those who’ve developed illnesses from exposure to radiation and toxins in the workplace.
That includes those who worked in uranium mines and mills as well as nuclear weapon production facilities and test sites. Nuclear Care Partners provides a range of health care services, including skilled nursing care, medication assistance and various therapies. The company also helps patients with grooming and hygiene, light housekeeping and meal preparation.
Education and advocacy constitute yet other important services, Noem says, in informing people about available benefits and helping them obtain those benefits.
Noem and another nurse founded Nuclear Care Partners after Noem worked for a national health care provider and says she recognized an opportunity. “I just knew there was a need for a company that was going to focus on clinical outcomes in a different way.”
Starting a business constituted a career change for Noem, who initially worked in intensive care at Community Hospital in Grand Junction after graduating from CMU. But the venture also constituted a natural extension of her passion for caring for others, something she says was instilled in her at a young age growing up in South Dakota. Her mother was a nurse, she says, who also cared for her grandmother.
Caring for uranium and nuclear weapons workers enables nurses and other providers a chance to not only meet their medical needs, but also get to know them and their families and hear their stories. “It’s an incredible experience,” Noem says.
Noem and her co-founder started Nuclear Care Partners in areas of California, Idaho and Nevada that weren’t served by other companies and hired local providers to help care for patients.
Nuclear Care Partners since has doubled every two years and now serves hundreds of patents in more than a dozen states, Noem says.
The operation employs a total of 650 clinical and nonclinical workers. Of those, 90 work in Western Colorado and 45 work in the home office in Grand Junction, she says.
Noem expects to expand into seven more states over the next 18 months to two years and hire additional staff.
Computer technology and an electronic medical records system has enabled the company to ramp up its operation and manage growth, she says.
Noem also attributes growth in part to the accreditation the company received in 2017 from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care. “That is huge.”
More than anything, though, Noem credited providers for the way they care for patients. “None of the rest of it really matters.”
Nuclear Care Partners recruits for not only skills, but also compassion and commitment, she says. “It’s the heart piece that’s more meaningful in the end.”
The company invests in providers with ongoing training to help them achieve their individual goals as well as enlists their assistance on committees working to improve the patient experience.
Nuclear Care Partners has attracted providers with that kind of culture, she says. “When you can really stand for something that matters, people are drawn to that.”
In launching and growing her venture, Noem says she faced a lot of naysayers who told her she’d fail. But that only served as additional motivation to do what she’d set out to do. At the same time, she says she gained over time the confidence to trust her instincts.
Noem believes other entrepreneurs can achieve similar success in following her two-step process and answering some important questions.
“What gives you meaning?” she asks. “How do you do it differently? How do you do it better? How do you be the best?”
For more information about Nuclear Care Partners, log on to www.nuclearcarepartners.com or call (888) 525-5111.