Through our Monthly Spotlight Series, we are taking the time to highlight the staff at KidsCare Home Health. We hope you gain inspiration and valuable advice from these successful individuals and their stories.
This month we were excited to interview Dr. Cortney Baker, CEO at KidsCare Home Health.
How did KidsCare Home Health come to be?
In November of 2002 I decided that I was ready to try my hand at opening my own pediatric home healthcare agency. I had absolutely no idea how to even start, but knew it was worth a shot. I was 28, Jason and I had been married only five months, we’d just found out we were expecting our first daughter, and he had just gotten laid off in the horrendous economy post-September 11th. Sounded like perfect timing! (that’s a joke)
Then I got cold feet. Maybe I realized my circumstances and started to question my sanity! But an ice storm hit Dallas in February 2003. Although I won’t go into all the details, the company I worked for didn’t submit payroll that week and I wasn’t going to get paid. It was right then that I decided that I was officially going to open KidsCare, despite my insecurities and situation.
After receiving a small investment from my dad, my previous partner and I worked with a consultant to officially open the doors of KidsCare Therapy on October 27, 2003. At the time of opening, I was the only therapist and I had 10 patients who lived all over the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. I would conduct therapy sessions during the day and at night do billing, insurance verification, payroll, human resources, accounting, eligibilities, etc.
The most stressful time was in the very beginning, right when KidsCare first opened. I couldn’t figure out how to correctly bill and we weren’t getting paid. I remember Jason had gotten a job working the night shift at a warehouse and he’d come home every Friday morning to find me crying in bed with the covers pulled over my head saying I wanted to quit. Little did I know that he wouldn’t let me because we’d have had to file bankruptcy.
Thank God things worked out! We started growing, adding additional therapists, disciplines, markets, and the rest is history. We added nursing a few years ago and rebranded to KidsCare Home Health to encompass the full spectrum of homecare services. It’s been quite the ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have an incredible team and I couldn’t be more appreciative and proud of what we have accomplished. Every single day, we change lives… what a blessing!
What is the toughest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a woman business owner?
I would say, especially when my kids were younger, that it was making time for my family. I love to work; I love to be busy, and I have a hard time sitting still. When I had my first daughter, Grace, I took a week and a half off for maternity leave because I was working a full-time job and trying to get KidsCare open. But I looked at it as a means to an end. I wanted to be able to be at her dance recitals and my son’s hockey games. So I knew if I put in the hours then that I’d be able to reap the benefits of it later on. But there are definitely times where I wish I could go back and not be so busy all the time. Especially now that Grace is graduating from high school in May.
What are the top 3 defining moments in your career that have got you to where you are today?
1. When Jason wouldn’t let me quit. I still remember the words he said when he came home and I’d be crying under the covers. He said, “if it was easy, everyone would do it. Get up. You’ve got a job to do and people are counting on you.” Little did he know, those words changed the trajectory of our lives.
2. In 2015 I earned my doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. I started my adult journey as a single teenage mom on Medicaid and food stamps, having my son six months after I graduated from high school. At 18, I never thought I’d be able to go to school, much less get my doctorate degree. I went back to school for my 18 year old self, as a gift to “her” to show “her” that she could do it and she was worth it.
3. On September 18, 2012, when I was 37, I had a stroke in 2 places and underwent a 7 hour brain surgery. I had just started back to school a month before and had to skip that semester to recover and heal. I’m pretty stubborn and wasn’t going to let that deter me from my goal, so I re-enrolled the following semester and finished in 2015.
Outside of family, what are 3 personal accomplishments you’re proudest of?
-My sobriety; May 30th will be 5 years
-Earning my doctorate degree after having a stroke
-My mission work and the time I’ve spent in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa. Our family has two young adults, Oliver and Fostina, we adopted nearly nine years ago. When we met them, they were both orphans and we put them through school. Oliver just finished high school and Fostina just had a son (who is the cutest little guy!) and she named him Jason. They are just precious!
What motivates you and where do you find inspiration?
When Covid hit, it seemed to force the entire world to slow down during quarantine. I looked at that time as a gift and asked myself, “what’s one thing you have always wanted to do but wouldn’t allow yourself the time to do it?” I knew painting and gardening were two things that I had always wanted to learn how to do. Although we aren’t in quarantine anymore, I’ve continued both.
Recently I have combined my love for painting with my love for kids with special needs. I have been painting pictures for children with special needs based on their interests, favorite colors, or whatever their parents want. My favorite is when I get to meet the kids and deliver the painting to them in person! When they realize it’s them I’ve painted, it’s priceless!
KidsCare Home Health had to pivot a lot in 2020 due to Covid-19. How did KidsCare Home Health adapt to the pandemic and what lessons do you think can be learned from that adaptation going forward?
All the way around, there were some sleepless nights through Covid. From wondering whether we’d be considered ‘essential’ or not, to wondering if parents would allow therapists and nurses into their homes, and then changing an entire business model from in-person visits to telemedicine, that was no small feat. We have an incredible team, and I am so proud of them, how they kept level-leaded, and how they all tackled the problem head-on. Just wow.
I think the biggest appreciation I have during that time was how many people were flexible as we figured out how to best maneuver through the unknown, be patient with the situation, and truly worked together as a team. The staff went above and beyond to work together and ensure that everyone had what they needed to navigate the uncharted territory. 2020 was definitely a year for the books, but I don’t think our team could have done anything better. They are truly exceptional.
When you’re not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
I’ve started painting in the last year, and I absolutely love it. I also like to read, bake, travel, hang out with Jason, play with my dog (Jackson) and watch my girls dance and play softball. I love to learn, so if I’m not doing one of those things, I am usually researching something that I find interesting.
Your Favorite Quote?
I have two:
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts” -Winston Churchill
“In a world of rhinestones, be a diamond” –my take on an old Dolly Parton lyric