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Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch Cathy Queen, owner of Right at Home River Cities, is celebrating her 10th anniversary. In this photo from left are Cathy Queen, Alisha Martin, Justin Bowen, Lisa Akers, Karen Williams, Linda Spurlock and Hallie Traylor

CEREDO  Cathy Queen, a registered nurse and owner of Right at Home of the River Cities in Ceredo, said providing high-quality, in-home health care to seniors, veterans and those with disabilities was her goal when she started the business a decade ago - and it remains her mission today with her growing business.

"Respect, quality and passion for helping others has been our mission here over the past 10 years," Queen said.

Queen graduated with a degree in nursing from Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College. After working as a nurse in Kentucky, she returned to West Virginia with Preferred Home Health in Ceredo in 1996.

"I started thinking about starting the business when I was the clinical director at Preferred Home Health in 2006," Queen said. "The home health side does the skilled care side, and I saw this great need for seniors needing assistance with everyday activities, like bathing, dressing, cleaning, meal prep, light housekeeping, transportation to doctor's appointments and those types of things."

Queen said seniors who are not low-income status had to try to find home care services they could afford to pay, maybe out of pocket or through long-term care insurance.

"I found many people were willing to pay for these services for themselves or their senior family member," she said. "There was such a need as more and more seniors want to remain at home, instead of being in a nursing home, hospital or some other type of facility."

Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care and assistance to seniors, veterans and adults with a disability who want to continue to live independently.

Local Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, and bonded and insured prior to entering a client's home, said Ceredo's Right at Home human resources director, Linda Spurlock.

"We make sure we get the right person for our clients," Spurlock said. "We do a free assessment to find out the exact needs of the client and then match them with the right caregiver. We want caregiving staff that have the same passion and respect for our clients as everyone here at Right at Home. We take great care to make sure our clients are happy in their home with their caregiver."

Allen Hager, a graduate of Marshall University, is the founder of the Omaha, Nebraska-based Right at Home business concept that began in 1995, Queen said.

"My husband actually graduated with Allen," she said. "He began offering franchise opportunities in 2000 to those who shared his mission to improve the quality of life for the people we serve."

In 2008, Queen and her husband, John, bought a Right at Home franchise and set up shop at 711 C St. in Ceredo. They opened the business in 2009 with an emphasis of providing quality in-home health care for seniors and veterans.

In 2012, Queen and her husband opened a new Right at Home location in Ashland to serve seniors and veterans in Eastern Kentucky.

"It has been a good growth for us this past decade," she said.

The home health skilled care business serves seniors across the Tri-State, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. The agency currently has 41 clients and has had as many as 60.

"We have helped hundreds of seniors in Wayne and Cabell counties and hundreds more all across the Tri-State region," Queen said.

Karen Williamson, Right at Home of the River Cities' operations manager, said the business offers a variety of services.

"We help with activities of daily living," she said. "That could be anything from assisting with standby assistance for bathing and dressing, respite care for family caregivers, medication reminders, exercise reminders, laundry and housekeeping services, meal preparation, transportation for doctor's appointments or errands, personal hygiene, Alzheimer's and dementia care, and so much more - things they need help with that they can no longer do, but want to stay at home with assistance. We can provide that assistance."

Williamson said Right at Home also has several clients with 24-hour-a-day needs.

"We also answer the telephone 24 hours a day," she said.

Right at Home of the River Cities currently has 31 caregiver aides, 32 nurses and seven office staff.

"We are constantly hiring new employees due to our growth over the past 10 years," Queen said.

Lisa Akers, Right at Home of the River Cities' marketing director, said she goes to hospitals, nursing homes, veterans' facilities and rehabilitation facilities to speak with patients who are referred to them.

"We work with insurance agents as well," she said.

The Right at Home of the River Cities staff has a combined total of 80 years of medical experience.

Akers said giving back to the community is also an important part of the business.

"We have been involved with the annual City Mission drive, other food and clothes drives, health and hygiene drives and other donations through various community and nonprofit organizations," she said.

They have done annual sponsorship of the Huntington Alzheimer's walk and committee membership, membership in the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce and Rotary clubs, committee membership in Dementia Friendly Huntington, Cabell Huntington SeniorWise Access group, and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's support groups with local hospitals, Akers added.

"We also participate in senior health fairs and job fairs across the Tri-State," she said.

Queen serves as a member of the board of directors for Memorial Hospital in Manchester, Kentucky. She sponsors and supports the Alzheimer's Association. She is the past vice president for Business Network International and is a member of Grace Gospel Church in Huntington.

Recently, Right at Home of the River Cities received the Home Care Pulse's Employer of Choice and Provider of Choice awards, based on client and caregiver satisfaction scores gathered by Home Care Pulse.

"These awards are only given to a small handful of home care providers across the country who have proven their ability to provide an exceptional working experience to employees and the highest quality of care," Queen said. "We are very proud to receive these awards."

Right at Home business performance coach Stephen G. Houston said Queen and her team had the courage to grow their business rapidly, yet with the highest standards of quality.

"They have been tremendous role models for the Right at Home system and most willing to share their knowledge and best practices with their contemporaries at Right at Home," he said. "They have always been most willing to collaborate with their colleagues and share their proven best practices."

Houston said the thing Queen has done with her franchise is being emulated by other franchisees.

"Cathy has built a quality team that specializes in their strengths," he said. "Many owners build a culture that spread themselves too thin and wade into all areas. Cathy's approach is to hire the right people and put them in the right positions to do the right thing for their caregivers, clients and the community. She has been most consistent and methodical in her style and approach."

Houston congratulated Right at Home of the River Cities on its 10-year anniversary.

"Running any small business for a decade takes its toll on any owner," he said. "Owning a home care business focused on the ultimate reward - serving human beings - is doubly exhausting. Cathy and her team have displayed the fearlessness to serve their mission and have learned the business acumen to create a healthy and sustainable long-lived entity. Thus, the next 10 years look most bright, too, given the wisdom that Cathy and her team have gained and the willingness to share those insights with the next generation to keep the business thriving well into the future."

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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