Caring For Women
Healthcare Workers Holding Their Position On The Front Lines: Caring for Women
Dependability. For many businesses, large and small, it’s little more than an advertising slogan. But COVID-19 has demonstrated just how crucial reliable access to some goods and services can be. The first few weeks of the pandemic were a time of shortages: staple food items such as flour and milk, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, and healthcare.
Entering 2020, Caring for Women was just one year away from celebrating its 20th anniversary. Its physicians, nurse practitioners, midwives, sonographers, and staff members have provided comprehensive obstetrical and gynecological services to North Texans since 2001. Many of these medical professionals have spent their entire careers at Caring for Women.
That continuity of care has contributed greatly to the exceptional bedside manner that has earned the clinic lifelong patients across Denton and Collin counties. According to Dr. Caren Reaves, “When the women who rely on us know they’ll be welcomed by the same staff and treated by the same medical specialists year after year, that makes a big difference.”
That difference extends to the physician experience as well. Dr. Monica Popov says that she and her colleagues appreciate how professionally enriching and personally rewarding their work is. “We partner with women through the various stages of their lives, from young adulthood through their childbearing years to menopause,” she explains. “Not only do we help each patient to navigate the challenges and rewards that occur at every stage of life, but we also invite them to actively participate in their healthcare. We value open dialogue and mutual decision-making, and view both as essential to developing treatment plans that prioritize the patient’s goals.”
The novel coronavirus put those best practices — not to mention Caring for Women’s practice itself — at risk. Even as the nation threw its support behind the doctors and nurses battling COVID-19 in emergency rooms and intensive care units everywhere, other threats to healthcare workers and their livelihoods began to emerge. Patients instructed to shelter in place canceled check-ups. Hospitals suspended elective procedures. Pundits declared that telemedicine was now the medical profession’s new normal.
Like many private practices, Caring for Women closed briefly in March. But the clinic quickly pivoted to using digital communications technology to consult with patients. Caring with Women’s staff also continued to offer in-patient services for those with critical medical needs. Nevertheless, COVID-19 made it much more difficult for Caring with Women to leverage its caregivers’ expertise in areas that had been essential to improving patient outcomes prior to the pandemic, especially minimally invasive surgery and obstetrical care.
Dr. Reaves recounts that “all non-emergent surgeries were held for almost two months.” That included hysterectomies, myomectomies, endometriosis resections, and surgeries to correct pelvic organ prolapse. Although Caring for Women’s use of the robotic da Vinci Surgical System supports social distancing — the surgeon operates the device from a remote console — and significantly reduces both patient recovery times and post-surgical complications, it sat idle through much of March and April.
Meanwhile, Caring for Women’s obstetricians and Certified Nurse-Midwives have always collaborated to provide excellent care to their pregnant patients. All midwives at Caring for Women are registered nurses who have received additional training in midwifery and are fully certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
“COVID-19 definitely made meeting our pregnant patients’ needs during what is usually joyful time more challenging,” explains Dr. Popov. “Many mothers have questions about bringing a baby into a world suffering through a pandemic, and understandably so. Yet it’s extremely important to us that we do all we can to alleviate the anxieties that can come with pregnancy and delivery. At the same time, we’ve had to put extensive and all-new safety precautions in place — precautions which change how we interact with our pregnant patients.”
Dr. Reaves soon found herself coping with anxieties of her own. Private medical practices are businesses, too. Postposed surgeries and canceled patient visits translate into lost revenue — but they do not prevent overhead costs and staff salary expenses from continuing to mount. How would prolonged financial uncertainty negatively impact the continuum of care Caring for Women had worked so hard to maintain?
Before that question could become urgent, Dr. Reaves learned of a new government program to provide forgivable loans to small businesses. And, almost as soon as she heard news reports about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Dr. Reaves also heard from her Guaranty Bank & Trust banker. “We’ve worked with Debbie Rhoads for almost 20 years,” she says. “I know if I need anything, I just pick up the phone, reach out to her, and what’s said is done. We’d follow Debbie anywhere, and we’re glad she went to Guaranty in 2015.”
Debbie began forwarding Dr. Reaves any PPP-related information as soon as her location (Wind River Lane in Denton) received it, even if it was purely preliminary. She wanted to make certain Dr. Reaves had the resources at her disposal to determine whether Caring for Women would be a viable candidate for a PPP loan. Dr. Reaves quickly determined that it would and decided to apply for financial assistance.
That application process was rigorous. Again, Debbie’s communicativeness proved invaluable. It bought Dr. Reaves as much time as possible to gather the extensive documentation required by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal agency responsible for granting PPP loans.
“Our application was ready to drop on April 3rd — the moment it was possible to send it through the SBA’s system.” Dr. Reaves recalls. “Debbie deserves a tremendous amount of credit for that. I heard story after story of practices working with other banks and being left in limbo because they didn’t meet the application documentation requirements in a timely fashion. Several were delayed so long that initial funding ran out before they could receive assistance.”
Within a week, the SBA approved Caring for Women’s request. The clinic has used the emergency funding it received to stay fully staffed and pay rent on its facilities in Denton, Flower Mound, and Frisco. By May, all three offices had safely reopened and were operating at about 90 percent of capacity.
Dr. Reaves attests that, without the assistance of Guaranty Bank & Trust and Debbie Rhoads, Caring for Women would very likely have had to lay off some of its clinicians. “To be able to maintain staffing proved critical to ensuring that our patients continue to enjoy access to excellent care and the long-term relationships they cherish,” she adds.
But Dr. Reaves knew her business had been restored to health once she and her team could turn their attention back to the future. Caring for Women will be adding a new physician in October and hopes to purchase the building housing its main Denton office before the end of 2020. “We’ll definitely be asking for Guaranty’s assistance in making that happen,” she says.
Looking back on the disruptions inflicted by COVID-19, Dr. Reaves is especially thankful for the stable partnership Caring for Women has forged with Guaranty Bank & Trust. “They’ve been fantastic to work with in so many ways. They’ve helped us navigate some tough financial challenges, and their customer service has never been short of spectacular,” she observes. “They’ve even come to our office when it’s been difficult for us to get to them to sign papers or conduct business. I love calling our bank and knowing who I’m speaking to and that they know me. They really do take care of us.”
You can learn more about Dr. Reaves, Dr. Popov, Dr. Finger, Dr. Valenti, their colleagues, and the range of obstetrical and gynecological services provided by Caring For Women at www.cfwdenton.com.
Here at Guaranty Bank & Trust, our friendly and caring bankers are dedicated to helping our great state’s great small businesses thrive. Call our Custom Care Center at (888) 572-9881 or request an appointment today to learn more about our wide range of checking, savings, and lending services. Whether you’re hoping to start your own business or expand your current operations, we look forward to partnering with you.