Small Business

Family-run health care business adapts, changes over the years

Jay Stehley is the owner of Interim Health Care.
Jay Stehley is the owner of Interim Health Care. The Wichita Eagle

Jay Stehley had been running his family’s health care business for less than a year when its biggest revenue source – Medicaid– shrank by two-thirds thanks to Kansas changing reimbursement rates.

“One of the main lessons I learned from that was to diversify,” said Stehley, CEO of Interim HealthCare of Wichita.

Seventeen years later, Medicaid constitutes no more than 2 or 3 percent of Interim Healthcare’s business, replaced by Medicare reimbursements for home health care and income from three other service lines.

Interim Healthcare of Wichita is a franchise of Interim HealthCare Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale. Stehley’s parents, Don and Judy Stehley, started it in 1979, although they continued to live in Manhattan, where Don had been a football player and coach at Kansas State University.

Jay and his sister, Jill Harrison, now share ownership of the Wichita operation along with a second one based in Topeka that Harrison runs. Stehley said the family had to form two corporations to comply with Medicare guidelines that providers be headquartered within a 100-mile radius of the area they serve. The Wichita company has a branch office in Hutchinson and the Topeka company, started in 2010, has one in Manhattan.

Stehley worked in the automotive industry in Michigan before returning to Kansas to take over the family business. A former player for Butler Community College’s 1981 national championship football team, he lives in Wichita.

Home health care and hospice care are Interim HealthCare’s two biggest service lines. Stehley added the latter in 2009.

“We like to say we offer the entire continuum of care,” Stehley said. “We can keep you in your home.”

The company also provides private duty nursing and supplemental staffing for hospitals such as Via Christi and Wesley. “That’s the smallest business out of the four. It’s what I call a side business.”

Stehley said the industry’s biggest challenge is complying with governmental regulations. “Medicare is always evolving, particularly on home health,” he said. On Jan. 1, for example, the company will be forced to comply with a new billing model. “It’s just a lot more rules and regulations we have to learn.”

Nevertheless, Interim HealthCare has grown steadily. Today about 100 nurses, physical therapist, billing specialists and other employees work for it full time, with another 400 part time. The company moved from downtown to bigger quarters at Harry and Webb in 2015.

Stehley deflects credit for that, saying he’s “hired a lot of good people,” tried to “stay out of their way” and followed a simple approach:

“We like to say the client comes first. If we take care of that, everything else will take care of itself.”

Interim HealthCare of Wichita

Address: 9920 E. Harry

Phone: 316-265-4294

Owners: Jay Stehley and Jill Harrison