By: Molly M. Fleming
The Journal Record November 7, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY – Physician Housecalls doesn’t set out to recruit military veterans specifically, said Hank Ross, chief executive officer.

But what some people may see as challenging work doesn’t seem that difficult to medical staff members who have previously given care on a battlefield.

Physician Housecalls is a home health care provider that works with chronically ill patients. The company started in 2012.

Ross said that while only 5 percent of the population is considered chronically ill, those people consume about 60 percent of medical resources. By providing primary care to the patients, Physician Housecalls saves patients about 35 percent on their annual Medicare costs, he said.

But the work isn’t easy, given the patients’ challenging health conditions.

“It takes a sense of mission,” Ross said. “It takes someone who is ready to do something that’s not normally done. It takes a sense of great purpose and most military people are built that way.”

Nurse practitioner Charles Pollard seems to be built like that. He joined Physician Housecalls in March 2017.

He served in the military for 24 years. He started his career in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served from 1990 to 1997. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1997 so he could go into medical work, which isn’t offered in the Marines.

He worked his way up to nurse practitioner and retired from the Air Force in 2015.

“I like the challenge,” he said. “My heart goes out to those that fall in that gap and aren’t able to get out and receive the care they need. They fall within that gap that is highly unserved. I like to reach out to that population.”

He said his time in the military prepared him for his work with Physician Housecalls. When he served in Operation Desert Storm, he learned to take things as they come. He takes that same idea to his work with his patients.

“If I need to stay up late doing extra work, I’ve been trained that you have to do what you need to do to get done,” he said. “You basically have to adapt and overcome.”

He also learned as a captain with the Air Force’s 137th Medical Squadron to take responsibility for his decisions. He has to do that daily when he visits his patients, who live in Seminole, Stillwater, and in areas in between those cities.

“You take ownership of your patients,” he said. “You treat them the best way that you can. It’s a challenge for me to ensure that people are healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I try to educate them as much as I can on preventative measures.”

Ross knows about that responsibility as well. He served in the Air Force as a medical service core officer, referring to himself as a health care administrator in the air. He was part of the 137th Airlift Wing, based at Will Rogers World Airport. He served for 14 years, including in Desert Storm.

Minority owner Dr. Thomas Essex was a green-beret medic and retired from the U.S Army in 2012 as a colonel. During his time in the Army, he served one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan.

Ross said the mission of Physician Housecalls aligns with the military. Both entities want to help those who can’t help themselves.

“We’re built to treat people who have needs,” Ross said. “You get into health care for various reasons, but it’s mostly to help people. Obviously in the medical core, it’s a vehicle to help people in great need.”

Ross said of the 33 employees, the company has more than five veterans, including two-thirds of the ownership.

Besides being mission-driven, Pollard said his military career also helps him connect with patients. He takes care of many World War II veterans, a generation that’s historically closed-off about sharing its time in the war.

“We have a common bond,” Pollard said. “When I talk about my military experience, (veteran patients) really open up.”