12 Questions with Mark Rowe

Owner of Rivercross Hospice

Explain what hospice care is in your own words.

We deliver a comprehensive set of services for the dying that focuses on care, not on a cure. It's unique in that we care not only for our patients but also their families and loved ones.

What influenced you to start a hospice business?

I'm a social worker. For a while in the 90s, I worked on Dr. Donna Sweet's Med One team at St. Francis. AIDS was new, and her floor was full of dying people. We didn't have the treatments then that we have today, and much of what we were doing was helping others go painlessly and comfortably from this life into the next. While Dr. Sweet was the leader, she depended on and deferred to the team of professionals she had surrounded herself with, each according to their expertise. It was difficult work, but you knew you always had teammates to back you up. After that experience, I knew I wanted to do this work, and I wanted to lead others like she did.

What is the best way to introduce the hospice concept to a family?

When people are told, there's nothing more that we can do, what we tell them is quite the opposite. In fact, when you choose Rivercross Hospice, you will have more care than you could imagine.

Who pays for hospice care?

Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers and private pay. We serve all regardless of their ability to pay.

Is it the family's decision or the patient's decision to receive hospice care?

It's the patient's decision to elect to have hospice. If the patient is unable to make that decision, their representative can choose hospice for them.

What do you enjoy about owning a hospice business?

I get to spend my days with hospice professionals and volunteers, the best people in the world. The beauty of working in hospice is that you often get back more than what you give to it.

How do you get past the inevitably sad part of hospice?

We try to stay focused on helping to be a part of a good death. The idea of any death being a good death may sound strange to some, but when you consider the alternative  dying alone and/or in pain....We want to be a part of helping someone's last days be the best days they can be. Also, each person who works here is charged with caring for their team members. We've created an environment where staff members feel that when their hearts are heavy, others are looking out for them. Our turnover is nearly non-existent.

What makes Wichita a great place to own a business?

People in metro Wichita have such a commitment to caring, plus a great work ethic. Our schools prepare such quality professionals, too.

What is one secret to becoming a successful business owner?

Marry well.

What do you like to do for fun?

Reading, fly fishing, live music, collecting wine, old cars, Andover High School sports and hanging out with the Mrs.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

Round Midnight. A slice of the life of an ex-pat jazz musician in Paris in the 60s. If you never knew jazz, you could learn all you need to know by watching this movie. Amazing.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, what things are you most grateful for?

My wife, family and friends. Those who allow us to care for their residents and loved ones. AJ, Jeff and James. Ibuprofen and strong coffee.

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