Getting personal


Oxygen company serves patients within an hour radius

By Cynthia Scheer Telescope News

Business is personal for Central Plains Respiratory and Medical’s Deanna Morris.

The Republic County native opened her own business in downtown Belleville last December and said she now takes care of people she’s known her whole life. The registered respiratory therapist said a significant portion of her business is supplying a mostly older clientele with home oxygen and CPAPs, which are machines that use mild air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep. She also has a growing number of younger clients who use the CPAPS, too, she said.

“I think there’s a ton of untreated people out there with sleep apnea who need a CPAP,” Morris said.

She said she encouraged Republic County Hospital to offer sleep studies to diagnose those who need CPAPS. The hospital began offering sleep studies in July and had done 10 inpatient studies and 15 home studies as of Oct. 4. Morris said the option to take the sleep tests at home is a cheaper and more desirable option for some.

“Everything here starts with a doctor’s order, though,” Morris said, adding that oxygen is considered a drug and requires a prescription.

Morris said the cost of the CPAPs, as well as replacement supplies, are covered by insurance, and she has many commercial insurance customers. Morris said she meets with new patients in her office or in their homes and shows them how the equipment works. Morris said she serves customers who live within an hour radius of Belleville, including Superior, Hebron and Fairbury, Neb., and Washington, Concordia and Mankato.

She said she likes to deliver equipment to people’s homes so that she can find the best location for the equipment Getting personal Respiratory therapist Deanna Morris opened Central Plains Respiratory and Medical in Belleville in December. Morris said she likes to be able to personalize a doctor’s prescription for oxygen and CPAP machines with patients’ lifestyles. Oxygen company serves patients within an hour radius and set it up. She makes sure everything is working before she leaves.

Knowing the customer

Morris said her business isn’t just about filling prescriptions and delivering equipment. She strives to personalize customers’ needs. “We aim to get the equipment that the patient needs to keep them mobile and outside the home,” she said, adding that research shows people who are active live longer. She said older women on oxygen who like to garden, for example, may need a tiny portable oxygen tank that straps around the waist. Other patients may travel a lot to doctors appointments and need portable oxygen. Morris said she can personalize the equipment if she knows how her customers spend their time.

She said re-supplying customers with things like oxygen tubing, masks, and filters is another part of her business. Insurance often covers equipment such as tubing every 1-3 months, Morris said, and the computer generates a list of people who are eligible for replacements. The new tubing, filters and other replacement parts can then be mailed, delivered, or picked-up.

Morris said most of her business goes through insurance – Medicare is No. 1 – although she does have some cash sales. Christine Strutt does most of the insurance submissions, Morris said, and she is also a respiratory tech. Two other people also work in the office doing paperwork and answering the phones.

Morris worked as a respiratory therapist at Republic County Hospital for 11 years before she took a job in Concordia managing a durable medical equipment provider. Morris said that job was quite similar to what she does in her new business. She decided to open her own respiratory equipment business in Belleville, she said, so that she could be closer to her children, who now walk to her office after school. “Ten years ago I never would have envisioned doing this,” she said.

RCED Note: Morris used the Republic County Revolving Loan Fund and the Neighborhood Revitalization Programs to make this business a reality and house two other businesses in their building.