Like many small business owners, Mary Santiago, RN, CRNI, VA-VC, and Julio Santiago, RN, MSN, CCRN, didnt intend to step into entrepreneurship. But once the idea sparked to start Priority PICC Solutions LLC, the Lemont, Ill., couple has followed it ever since.
Following a dream
Marys path to entrepreneurship began at the bedside while listening to the complaints of patients who had been stuck with needles repeatedly and had the blossoming bruises and painful swelling to prove it.
The complaints led Mary, who had worked as a critical care staff nurse for about 13 years at Adventist Hinsdale (Ill.) Hospital, to believe something more could be done for these patients.
So Mary launched her career in a new direction, becoming a vascular access nurse and learning to place PICC lines.
The relieved expressions and thanks of her patients led Mary to believe she had found a business niche. “I said, ‘Theres a huge demand for this,” Mary said. “And I seemed to be pretty good at it.”
At the same time, her husband, Julio, was advancing his nursing career by working as an assistant director of nursing overseeing three medical units at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and serving on various nursing association boards, including the Illinois Board of Nursing.
In 2008, the Santiagos decided the time was right to parlay their PICC skills and experience into their own contracting business, which employs certified nurse specialists to insert PICC lines and vascular catheters into adult and pediatric patients at the bedside in all healthcare settings.
The couple began their venture by finding a mentor in Gail Heckler, RN, president of P&A PICC in San Jose, Calif., who runs a similar company that services facilities in California and Hawaii. Then they drafted a business plan and financed the start-up on their own, before eventually obtaining a bank loan.
The couple has grown their independent PICC line service over the past five years. They now employ six other nurses and provide PICC line services at hospitals, nursing homes and physicians offices throughout the Chicago area, Mary said.
“We spent the first two years calling a lot of hospitals, doctors offices and nursing homes trying to get them to use our service, and we had very little business to show for it,” Julio said. “Now we are starting to get calls from facilities asking about the service.”
Julio pays it forward by counseling other nurses who are considering starting a business to develop a plan and strategy before stepping out.
“You may think you have a great idea and it will do well,” Julio said, “but you have to be able to explain it to others in a way that will help them understand the value it [would]add to their institution.”
After years of building the business, the Santiagos cant envision returning to work for someone else.
“Its not easy, and theres a lot of work and long hours,” Mary said, “but if you have a dream, you need to continue to work toward that dream.”
For information on the company, visit www.PriorityPICCSolutions.com.