Fil-Am therapist finds success as health entrepreneur
Dr. Richard Holsman does not remember being ridiculed for his American name as a boy growing up in Southern Leyte. He does remember, however, that later in high school in Makati, classmates teased him for having a Visayan accent.
Anyway, Holsman’s stepfather is an Englishman; he never met his biological father. When he was eight years old, his family lived in Papua New Guinea because his parents worked there.
“I was lucky to grow up with favorable treatment from classmates and teachers,” he says. But it was more than luck that has made him a successful therapist and entrepreneur in the United States. It took grit and the will to succeed.
After graduating with a BS degree in physical therapy from the University of Perpetual Help in Rizal (UPHR), Philippines, Holsman taught for a few years before leaving for the United States.
“I was a chair, then, became the clinical internship coordinator of the Physical Therapy Department of UPHR, when I decided to work in the US,” Holsman explains.
Physical Therapist was one of the most in-demand jobs in the United States in early 2000. Luckily for Holsman, his H1-B (working visa) was not affected by the 9/11 attack in New York City.
“I arrived in New York just three weeks after 9/11. Everyone was nervous taking mass transit. It took me more than three hours a day to commute from New Jersey to New York,” Holsman relates.
With the increasing competition in the profession, Holsman decided to pursue a clinical specialization. He specialized in geriatrics and eventually proceeded to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the Boston University. He became one of the few certified Geriatric Clinical Specialists in New Jersey.
Aside from his full time job as therapist, Holsman also taught doctorate interns from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Holsman does not recall any discrimination among his patients or patients’ families. Instead, he experienced gratitude among those who underwent therapies under his supervision.
Gratitude from patients
“My first patient suffered from a massive stroke. She was transferred to our facility from another skilled nursing rehabilitation facility. There was no improvement after six months in that facility,” Holsman says.
After the patient was transferred to Holsman’s facility, the patient recovered and eventually was able to move and walk by herself.
“The happiness and gratitude of patients who recovered are priceless,” Holsman enthuses.
Holsman Healthcare LCC
In 2004, Holsman decided to set up his own company. There is no immigration requirement for owning a general business in America. He hired an accountant and a business lawyer to help him. Initially he offered staffing and consulting services.
Holsman Healthcare LCC is a limited liability company. In LCC, owners are called members. According to the Internal Revenue Service, LCC has less liability for company actions and debts than a company like a corporation. Hence, many new business owners form their companies as LCC.
It was not simple though. Holsman took a second mortgage on his home to fund his business, aside from working 10-12 hours each day for seven days. He also covered for skilled nursing rehabilitation facilities and outpatient physical therapy clinics in the evenings.
Later, Holsman decided to diversify his business operations by opening rehabilitation clinics. He sought the help of Jesus Carrillo, another therapist and the founding director for rehabilitation of the Holsman at Clifton, New Jersey.
To date, Holsman Healthcare owns and manages 14 independent locations and three satellites in New York and Northern New Jersey, offering physical, occupational, speech and massage therapies. It also offers wellness and chiropractic services and provides permanent or temporary staffing to contracted nursing homes and Holsman affiliated entities.
“Immigration requirements maybe needed if contracting with a local, state or federal government,” Holsman explains.
Challenges in healthcare business
“There is a big shortage of US educated therapists. We used to be able to easily supplement our workforce with therapists from the Philippines and India but with the H1-B lottery, it’s been more than difficult to get someone here,” explains Holsman.
Holsman also mentions that in the United States, physical therapists need a doctorate because it is the accreditation standard requirement.
“No one is offering a master’s or bachelor’s program. Most US universities only take 50 students per year to maintain an optimal student-teacher ratio,” Holsman explains.
Hence, Holsman Healthcare must maintain its quality assurance. The company has a quality assurance and compliance officer as well as a director of marketing.
Holsman mentions the “ever changing” health care regulation, reimbursement and third party documentation and billing requirements.
“In the marketing aspect, with too few dollars in insurance reimbursement, we have to compete to get the word out to patients who would need our services. New York and New Jersey are direct access states, patients can come to us without a referral from a medical doctor in most instances,” Holsman explains.
Despite these challenges, Holsman is gaining ground in the health care business.
“There is opportunity for everyone to succeed, instead of pulling our kababayans down, be proud of each other’s accomplishments and prove to the world that you can do the same,” Holsman advises Filipinos who want to follow his example.
“If you can make it in the Philippines, I’m pretty sure you can succeed in the US. You just have to remember to put God and people first and money second.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.