Medical equipment business 'all about helping people'

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcheral.com

JASPER — When Tina Byrd’s mother, Phyllis Milner-Keller, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she could never afford to buy all her medications. But she got a little help.

Tina Byrd, seen with her grandchildren here, is opening Family Home Medical Equipment in the Southgate Shopping Center.

Rick Stradtner, owner and pharmacist at Flick’s Drugs in Jasper, gave Milner-Keller the meds at no charge. The act of kindness touched Byrd, who hopes to spread warmth though her soon-to-open medical equipment business.

Family Home Medical Equipment is located in the Southgate Shopping Center on Jasper’s west side. The shop is slated to open on Monday, Nov. 19. It will carry walkers, wheelchairs, rollators, canes, crutches, orthotic boots and more. Custom mastectomy supplies such as breast prostheses and mastectomy bras will also be sold, and a licensed respiratory therapist is part of the staff. The majority of products available will be covered by insurance after prior approval.

Byrd, 55, is a first-time business owner. The Huntingburg woman worked at HLS Health and Wellness for almost two years before it closed in July. When the shop exhaled its last breath, she knew there would be a demand for medical equipment supplies in the area and took the plunge. Currently, the closest medical equipment stores for Jasper residents are located in Washington and Evansville.

“It’s all about helping people,” Byrd said Thursday. “It’s just the idea of being able to help somebody to the next step in their life. Whether it’s a young person or an older person or elderly, whatever. It’s just that feeling. It’s just about helping other people.”

Stradtner owned HLS, and Byrd said “hands down, he was the best boss I’ve ever had.” What she learned during her time in his store helped her get Family Home Medical Equipment off the ground, and she credits him with having a profound impact on her life.

Byrd’s biggest goals are to provide everything the community needs when it comes to medical equipment. She is a certified pedorthist and a certified mastectomy fitter.

She started her medical career as a candy striper at Jasper Nursing Center while attending Pike Central High School. After that, she worked as a social service director at the center, and then worked with medical records in the Army for almost 20 years.

Byrd, 55, is a first-time business owner. The Huntingburg woman worked at HLS Health and Wellness for almost two years before it closed in July. Currently, the closest medical equipment stores for Jasper residents are located in Washington and Evansville.

Byrd later attended Mid-America College of Funeral Service in Jeffersonville, Kentucky, where she earned an associate degree in mortuary science. That led to a job at nearby Schmidt Funeral Home.

After deciding that wasn’t for her, she landed a job at HLS. Just days into starting work at the business, she wondered, “What did I get myself into?” Tackling the rules and regulations that come with the billing side of the job are time consuming, complicated and can cause headaches.

But then patients and family members called and thanked her for her help.

“That’s when it makes you think, you know what, it was a headache, but it’s worth it,” Byrd said.

Family Home Medical Equipment will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The store can be contacted by phone at 482-6922.

Byrd said Dubois County is not only a community, but a family, and her business is about families helping families. If it wasn’t for the support of her husband, Joe, and other family members, she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to launch the shop. She hopes to one day pass it on to her grandchildren.

Byrd’s children are Cody Byrd of Huntingburg and Brittany Byrd-Houchin. Byrd has five grandchildren.




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