Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Hi, this is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. So let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Brad Ortmeier:

Well, thank you, Valerie. I appreciate you having me on today. My name is Brad Ortmeier and I am owner of CBS staffing (www.cbsstaffing.com), and we’re located in Des Moines, Iowa. We provide contract temporary and permanent placement of healthcare providers throughout the state of Iowa, and also in several other States throughout the United States. Our staff predominantly work in nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, any type of facility that is really looking for a healthcare provider, we will help them find a good match for them. I’ve owned CBS for the past 13 and a half years, and lucky me, lucky year 13 in 2020. But even though it has been a challenging year, I really have been rewarded in the type of staff we have out here and they’ve really stepped up [inaudible 00:01:18], especially during the difficult times they’ve had.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh my gosh. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through in the last few months or what your staff has been through, what the need is out there is incredible. I mean, I’m sure that whether it’s the state of Iowa or any state for that matter, hospitals need help and nursing homes need help. And this COVID thing is killing everybody here. I mean, I don’t mean that literally, sorry that wasn’t the right way to put that, but it’s stressing everybody out. I mean, so many people are out because they’re positive or because they’ve been exposed to somebody whose positive or they’re afraid to work, the scenarios are unlimited with this. So it’s great to talk to you because it’s interesting to hear what your perspective has been. My next question usually is what’s the best thing about serving aging adults, and I’m sure you could answer that, but maybe you would want to talk to us about what has been happening in the last few months and how you’ve been able to overcome some of the challenges we’ve had with staffing issues.

Brad Ortmeier:

Sure. I appreciate that, Valerie. Like I mentioned before, it has been very challenging and as you were discussing there, not only for our staff, but for the facilities that our staff go into, it’s challenging for them because they’re living on a day-to-day basis and some of our staff members are temporary. So they go into those facilities maybe it’s just several times a week. Some do work full-time there and some work part-time so they don’t experience it necessarily on an ongoing basis like the facilities do. I’d say one of the biggest challenges they’ve ran into is really being able to first off have the proper equipment to be able to take care of these residents. The hard part has been making sure that these residents are comforted so when somebody comes into their rooms, they’re not feeling like they’re in a special place because of the fact that the person’s coming in with all this gear on and it can be scary for those residents.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It does look scary. It looks like somebody’s coming at you in a moon suit sometimes. I mean, especially if you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or you’re confused for whatever reason, the gear can be startling. It’s not meant to be that way, but it can be. Absolutely.

Brad Ortmeier:

Yeah. So first off, the residents are the ones we have to make sure are taken care of. And our staff has done a great job and when they go into those facilities and when the facilities themselves have done a great job in trying new activities for these residents, because they don’t have that contact anymore with their family members. And they have to do, as you’ve seen on TV and many others have, they have to get creative in what they do for these residents to make them feel better so they don’t feel neglected. They don’t feel like they’re out on their own. These residents go into these facilities because unfortunately they’re the last place that they’re going to really be able to call home. And so they got to make it feel like home for them and not having that close contact with their family members, they have to find the other [inaudible 00:04:43].

Brad Ortmeier:

We go into these facilities and I work with a lot of different facilities. We probably have over a hundred different facilities we work with off and on. And one of the big things is we go into it with like a partnership with these facilities. We’re not coming in there as just a fill in to help when they’re short on staff, we’re coming in to help partner and take care of these residents with them. And so my hat goes off to these facilities and the people within them, because they’re doing so much and all they can unfortunately, sometimes with the least amount of resources.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s true. I mean, they’re struggling and trying to maintain, and if your whole kitchen staff is out, I mean, I’ve heard every story you can imagine, but it’s hard. Who’s going to feed everybody? And then, it’s on and on. So in my business, we deal with home care agencies, more so than facilities and to be able to staff a home care agency has been a tremendous challenge. Although, you hear this, everybody wants to be at home. I get it. Okay. Not everybody can be at home, but for those who have been able to go home, that’s great. But then the home care agencies can’t take more clients because they’re not able to staff them. So they’re turning away business because they cannot find enough staff to help them and be consistent.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And it’s not just COVID. I mean, this is not a new issue by any means, but COVID has certainly not helped the issue at all. It’s getting better now, but at first, caregivers didn’t want to go into homes where they didn’t know who else had been there. People didn’t want caregivers in the home because they didn’t know where the caregivers had been. I mean, it was just like a catch-22. You don’t want people in, but people don’t want to go in also. So anyway, that pain point has slowed down a little bit even though I know that the cases are on the rise, people are seeing the devotion of these caregivers and the protections that they put in place and the way they conduct their daily lives when they’re not at work is a good reflection of how they present themselves at work. So trying to protect themselves all day, every day so that they can also protect their clients when they’re at work, which I think is commendable. So I can imagine your business has been very much in demand lately for staff hospitals, and nursing homes and whatever else you do.

Brad Ortmeier:

In demand, but it’s tough these days though. We are in demand but the problem is there’s a shortage of caregivers.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Brad Ortmeier:

And not just on the nurses themselves, because that’s what you hear about the most in the media are nurses. A big portion of our staff are certified nursing assistants, CNAs. They’ll go into these facilities, and their job is just as hard, if not harder than the nurses, what they’re performing, because they’re actually having to help these residents get around and up and about. So they’re even having to do more interaction than the nurses do within these facilities. And unfortunately, before people would come into this business because of the fact that they thought it’d be a good job. Now they’re scared to come into it because of the environment they have to go into. So it’s been a difficult aspect from there and I’m not the only one that runs into a shortage of staff, you here it all over the place.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Everywhere, everywhere. I would also say that before COVID even, there used to be a time when CNAs and HHS and caregivers needed the home care agency, they needed that job, and now that the tide has turned, I’d say we, but I mean, home care agencies, nursing homes, need the caregiver more than the caregiver and the caregiver is plenty to choose from. Whereas nursing homes is desperate to get the right people in the door. So we have this challenge where if I’m a caregiver or CNA, I may have somebody I’m very loyal to, I may work somewhere for 10 years, but some of our younger, newer ones may say, “Well, you know what? They’re paying 25 cents more an hour over there and I’m taking it.” Or, “They have a $200 sign on bonus. I’m going.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And I get it when you’re young. And I get it when you’re old, I get it. But I know that it is the turnover and there are good ways to retain caregivers, I know that. But the turnover and the shuffling back and forth between different facilities, different agencies, it’s craziness. So my hat is off to you because this is all you do all day. And it takes a lot of patience and a lot of courage and a lot of time to make sure everybody’s in the right place. The caregivers are well vetted in that they’re doing their jobs correctly. It is not an easy job what you do. So thank you for doing it, because I could not do it.

Brad Ortmeier:

Well, as you can see, that’s why the hair’s getting a little sportier on top.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, yeah. I know some people have asked me, “Hey, would you start a home care agency today.” And the answer is no, not because I don’t like home care. I love them home care, but I am not good with some of the staffing issues that people have had to deal with in my life and in their own business. For mom and pops, the $30 million facilities agencies. I mean, the staffings, it could make you or break you sometimes. So you coming into play can help solve some of those problems when you have the ability to do that. So that’s awesome.

Brad Ortmeier:

Well, as we talked to facilities I tell them, we’re a necessary evil at times.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But again, I would love that necessary evil at this point. I’d be like, I don’t care. That’s fine. We got to take care of these people and take care of them correctly.

Brad Ortmeier:

Yeah, absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. The question I’m going to ask, I ask everybody is, when [inaudible 00:11:14] in your business, there have probably been organizations, people, your mom and dad, your grandparents, somebody who’s really kind of set you in this direction to do what you do today. Something spurred you on, or there are just organizations out there that you think do a really great job. Is there anybody you’d like to talk about or give a shout out to, or talk about how you got into this? [inaudible 00:11:38].

Brad Ortmeier:

Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off there. I think about this a little bit, because before I got into this business, I spent 20 years in the corporate world and working in different companies. My last 10 years was with a large financial company here in the Des Moines area. And like many others, my position was downsized. So I had to spend some time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Being in my forties, it’s like, “Okay, you can go through the regular process or try to figure out really what I would need to do.” At that time I had a young daughter and I thought, “I need to do something where I can be able to spend the time with her and also find something I really wanted to do, be passionate about.”

Brad Ortmeier:

So it just happened that I ran into this business. I knew the owner and he was looking to move on because his family had moved on. So I jumped into it, feet in, head first and because of my background in the corporate world, and I managed some large customer service areas, I also managed some client relationship and programs that we had through the company that I worked for. So I had a lot of background in working with people from both perspectives and in this type of business, you really need that. So I have to look back upon in who I would give a shout out to, I kind of give a shout out to my parents, of course, for starting off on bringing me up the right way and work hard. Nothing’s given to you for free and you have to really work hard for it.

Brad Ortmeier:

I started when I was 13 years old or actually less than 13, delivering papers as a little kid. So four o’clock in the morning, and just continued to work from there because I needed to do the right thing. And that’s what I hopefully was able to transfer over to my daughter who is going to medical school. So that’ll be a good thing [inaudible 00:13:38].

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Great.

Brad Ortmeier:

But the other part of that is, and what I really want to give a big shout out to is more of my staff and their dedication to what they do on a day-to-day basis. It’s like I was saying before, CNAs are unsung heroes out there. They work really hard. They’re the ones that have to get these residents up and around every day with a smile on their face. Because as we talked about these residents, this is their home, this is what they’re calling home for now and they have to help them make it feel like it’s home.

Brad Ortmeier:

The nurses as well, make them feel comforted. And when they come in there to give them shots or treatments or anything else they have going on. The other part is, a big shout out to the clients we work with. These clients going through, especially this tier and what they do. It’s been a great partnership and there’s been tough times out there, but I really have to get my hat off to them. They’ve really taught me a lot. And hopefully we’ve been able to teach each other some things at the same time.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. You’re right. They are the unsung heroes, these folks COVID or no COVID showing up to work every day to help our senior population live a better life with dignity, there’s nothing that replaces that. And I can attest to that. My father was in a nursing home for a couple of years because of COVID he is at home right now with his wife, which is tough to manage, but he’s dementia, not serious enough that he… I mean, he knows what you’re talking about and all that. He’s able to carry on a conversation, but time and bathing and those kinds of things are kind of like-

Brad Ortmeier:

It’s tough.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, it’s really tough. But at the nursing home that he was in, the care center, there we’re some aides that… And he was out in the country, which I think to me, that made a world of difference 40 miles from me, but I didn’t care. That was fine. It was fine because I knew he was getting good care. I knew in that rural area, that those people that worked in that nursing home all knew each other. They all know some of the residents that are there, are people that have lived and grown up in their community right along with them. Or, it’s their parents or their aunts and uncles or their grandparents. So the care was very good. That COVID has really taking a hard turn on a lot of people, it’s not easy. The isolation is tough, but I have to give them credit. Some of those aides are lifetime aides that have worked there. They worked their almost their whole career, their whole adult life, were amazing. Amazing every single day. And that’s amazing to me because I don’t know if I could do it that long.

Brad Ortmeier:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But they are great people and there are a lot of great people out there. I’d say overall, the human element is super, super and outstanding and we take care of each other the best we can. So thank you for that. It’s nice to know how your business started. And I think 40 is always a good age to start a new chapter. I’m almost 50. So I think every 10 years we kind of look around and go, “Is this what I’m doing?” But once you’re happy in your job, that’s awesome.

Brad Ortmeier:

Right. Yep.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s what you do every day. All right. How about online marketing? We asked everybody about online marketing. It’s tough to do in-person networking right now. So we’ve been relying on a lot of email, a lot of secret drop off by the front door and wave and run and something like that. So what has been your take on online?

Brad Ortmeier:

Being older, we grew up in an age of [inaudible 00:17:34] out there. And having to do with the paper, go the paper way to try to find a job. Then it’s kind of progressed. It’s slowly for a while just progressed. But now it’s just gone rampant with the different types of channels there are out there to market yourself and for employees to market themselves to you. So you kind of have to look at it from both facets there. I’ve been fortunate to know a couple of people that have some friends that have been in the marketing world. So they’re able to help me understand and navigate the marketing world today, as it’s known a little better than price [inaudible 00:18:10] other people have been able to. So that’s helped.

Brad Ortmeier:

We reached out in a multitude of ways to get people on board with us, be it through Facebook, just any type of channel we can find out there because it’s just amazing how, when you go into one little application and also your information’s popping up everywhere, you can get all these little ads that pop up all the time. And it’s amazing to me because I don’t understand the whole inner workings of it. I just know somebody who’s making a lot of money off of that in the background.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. What business are we in again? Yes. Yeah, somebody is and you’re right. And you have to be on multiple channels because you’re wanting to market to facilities, you want your services in those facilities. But on the other hand, I guess probably the most of your marketing is marketing to those CNAs and HHAs and people who are caregivers and then some nurses and things like that. So I would guess that you do have to use almost every platform. Your demographic ranges from young people on Snapchat to people on Twitter and Facebook and Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter. I mean, I would imagine that you’ve tried about it.

Brad Ortmeier:

Very much.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Is there any one thing that works really well that you found or is it just the combination of hitting it off?

Brad Ortmeier:

It’s probably a combination of things, but I have been surprised at how well, and we ran into this last year already before this whole virus thing came about is the Facebook ads. For as much as people don’t like Facebook and everything, they have the inner workings, the engine there to really propel some stuff forward and it’s amazing of the amount of stuff you get from there and can be passed on. The other part is word of mouth. We do live a lot off that believe it or not. Since we’ve been in business for a while, and we’re one of the longer agencies in the area, people know us, people know our name and so they’ll contact us because they say, “Hey, I worked with one of your staff members. I’m interested in maybe coming on board or talking to you guys about it a little bit more.” So really nice to hear that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is awesome. Yes. Those referrals are probably worth gold. Get the word of mouth referrals, much better than anything else you can imagine. And I do agree with you that my experience just limited, because I have not nearly the experience that you have, but in helping some of our home care agencies, to me, the Facebook ads not in the job section necessarily, but just if you run a Facebook ad, what I find and maybe you can speak to this, I don’t know. In Indeed and ZipRecruiter and some of those, there is this curious thing that people do, where they’re trying to gain the unemployment system. Now I know not everybody does that and that’s coming from me, but they will fill out forms over and over and over again. And they have no intention of ever talking to you.

Brad Ortmeier:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Because they have to show their unemployment counselor that they have actually applied for a job every week or every month, or I don’t know what [inaudible 00:21:32] is, every state’s [inaudible 00:21:34]. So we see that happening a lot there, but in Facebook, there’s still issues, but it seems to me that those people are more intentional because they see the ad, it comes up for them for another reason and they didn’t seek it out. It kind of came to them from whatever algorithm, or maybe they are looking for a job, anyway they see the ad they apply and they have more intention of following through. It’s not because they’re trying to prove that they applied for a job is because they’re interesting. So to me, that does work really well. Something that we’ve discovered along the way.

Brad Ortmeier:

You’re absolutely right. There are those people out there that their intention is unfortunately not to get a job, their following through with the process that they’ve been required to do, which is file a certain number of resumes or [inaudible 00:22:30] applications, and just follow along with that so they can continue to get their benefits and that type of thing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. And I think that in the beginning of our virus issue, when the unemployment benefits went up significantly, it gave people a lot of reasons to not get employed. But thankfully in this business, there are those who in chords who are dedicated to what they do.

Brad Ortmeier:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

There’s always more good than bad. So we were thankful for that. But it’s interesting, you go through this trying to hire, the whole recruitment process, the stuff that you learn, even though that’s not your forte, I mean, I could see that a mile away and I don’t even do this for a living. I mean, I don’t do what you do every day. So to me, it’s sort of like, “This must be a bigger problem than we realize.”

Brad Ortmeier:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Okay. What piece of advice would you give to other care providers out there? Whether it be a staffing agency, nursing home, whatever.

Brad Ortmeier:

I’d just say the main thing and it’s an old cliche, is just remembering we’re all in this together. We’re all trying to provide the same type of care, which is quality care for these residents out there, to make sure they feel at home, they feel like they are loved. They feel like they are somebody. And they were kind of forgotten at the beginning here. And even though the media and everybody else talked about that, the biggest part of the population that is more susceptible to this virus was the elderly population they were still forgotten because the funding wasn’t there for them and it was there for the hospitals, but it wasn’t there for the nursing homes. So these people kind of got shuffled to the side. Well, at the whole same time, these facilities stepped up and kept taking care of these residents like they should. And they still got a bad name, unfortunately, because unfortunately there was a lot of residents that did pass away. As sad as it is that you can’t just look at it being the nursing homes fault.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nope.

Brad Ortmeier:

These nursing homes, 99% of them mean well, and they’re trying their hardest to do whatever they can to keep these people safe.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. Their hearts are in the right place. They’re presented with obstacles that are unsurmountable sometimes. And it’s not their fault oftentimes. I mean, we always hear about people who do wrong things, but in this case, these people wouldn’t work in these nursing homes if they didn’t care about these residents. I mean, they’re there for a long time. You find more often that the staff has been there a long time. They’re attached to these people. They don’t want them to be sicker. They don’t want them to pass away necessarily. They want them to have a good life. So none of this was intentional on their part. It’s really been a struggle. It really has. Something they never thought they would see. okay. Let’s go to happy place now. All right. When you have a win in life or in business, how do you celebrate? That could mean anything that could mean birthdays, staff accomplishments, a new goal set for the year. How do you guys like to celebrate?

Brad Ortmeier:

Well, I mean, first off, I like to celebrate with my staff, my employees and everything. This year, even though it’s challenging as it was, I made the point to really try to thank everybody and thank my staff, and really tell them that I appreciate the work they’re doing. Because I don’t know how they’re really hearing it in the facilities. So this year, even during the holidays, I try to send out more stuff to them because majority of my staff aren’t here. So I can’t touch and feel them all the time. Excuse that pun.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

No, I know what you mean. They’re not right there with me every day.

Brad Ortmeier:

Yes. So I have to send things to them and figure out a way to [inaudible 00:26:30]. I try to do more for them this holiday, especially, and try to recognize them a little bit more. The other part is on my own personal, I like to golf, hang out with my friends. I also run, I’ve been a runner my whole life. So I might go out and run, that helps me clear my mind. It really does a lot. Just like a lot of other people, we adopted a rescue dog this spring and he is the biggest goofball dog in the world. He’s two years old and he’s half Husky and half American bulldog.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Wow.

Brad Ortmeier:

He’s pretty good sized, bu he’s got the Husky look to him with the curl tail and everything, and he’s just full of energy. So I do take him running with me.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very good.

Brad Ortmeier:

Yeah. He’s been great from that perspective. It’s nice to be able to go out and run with him a little bit. And it’s nice to be able to play with him that way too. Because he just gives that extra energy and a smile to when playing with him. I also bring him to work with me. So he hangs out at the office here with us and just everybody kind of uses him as a therapy dog too.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Dogs are always good therapy. Yes. We have two in this house. They are rescues and they’re funny as they could be. One’s a big lab mix and one’s a little fat beagle mix and they are sterile and they’re like our babies and I have three teenagers and my husband and we treat them like babies, my husband rolls his eyes, but he still loves the dogs. He was like, “Oh my God, are you feeding that dog with a spoon? Really?” I’m like, “Nah, he just needs a little help.” [inaudible 00:28:13].

Brad Ortmeier:

Must have given him peanut butter.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. I had to give them peanut butter on a spoon. Especially [inaudible 00:28:20] something. So anyway, yeah. Love dogs. So it sounds like you had some good ways to celebrate. Thank you for sharing that with us. And yes, celebrating with staff or sending out some good stuff their way, it’s always a nice surprise and something that I know I enjoy that kind of stuff. So absolutely. All right. Well, thank you. Thank you for being on the show, sharing your wisdom with us. You are the first staffing agency we’ve had on the show and we’ll make sure all of your information is there with the video and you did a great job. So thank you very much for coming on.

Brad Ortmeier:

Well, thank you Valerie. I appreciate what you’re doing and the input that you had and [inaudible 00:28:59]. It is a fun business. It’s challenging and it can cause headaches like any other job can, but I do look forward to come in and helping people as much as I can. So thank you.