OCEANPORT, N.J. – The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) has a new chairman of the board, with Bill Guidetti (pictured), executive vice president, East Zone, Apria Healthcare, Red Bank, N.J., recently taking the reins for a two-year stint. The 56-year-old Guidetti accepted the post due in part to a sense of duty. “Advocacy takes a concerted, dedicated group of people and none of us have enough time,” he says, “but you have to find it.”
Prior to developing his executive leadership skills and powers of persuasion, Guidetti played inside linebacker at Northeastern University in Boston. At 6’ 1” and 235 pounds, he doled out pain on the gridiron while earning two degrees (Business Administration and Speech Communication) in the classroom.
Guidetti lives in Oceanfront, N.J., with his wife of 20 years and children ages 18, 17, and 15. Factor in family, career, and AAHomecare duties, and finding free time may be difficult in the immediate future. Medtrade Monday sat down with Guidetti to learn more about his background and how it may inform his tenure as chairman.
Greg Thompson, editor, Medtrade Monday: For Medtrade Monday readers who are seeing your name for the first time, I’m hoping you can share a bit about your life.
Guidetti: I grew up in a family of five, and I was the youngest. I had to very quickly learn how to compete, because when you’re the last child, you don’t have much say. But that really taught me how to get along with people, how to communicate appropriately, and how to be respectful. I have two parents who both had two jobs and worked very hard. I had an example as a young boy of watching my parents work very hard, and I think they instilled that work ethic in me.
Thompson: What were/are your hobbies?
Guidetti: I gravitated toward athletics as I grew up, and I’m athletically inclined. I had a full football scholarship to play at Northeastern University in the mid 1980s. Football teaches you a lot about teamwork, preparation, goal, and missions—and being very focused to achieve results. I took away a lot from that experience, and I think it helped me in the business world. And so if I fast-forward the tape to today, I have three children and my wife, Heather.
Thompson: What values have you tried to impart to your children?
Guidetti: We wanted to bring up our children with what I would call family values and tradition. We try to model that, and I want to be a good example for my children, and I want them to see that you can dream big and it’s achievable but you must work hard. If you set a goal and work hard for it, you can achieve it.
Thompson: When did you know you wanted to be involved in the health care world?
Guidetti: In my senior year of college I knew I wanted to help people, and I always had this orientation for the elderly. As I was growing up, I’d see elderly people in wheelchairs and my first instinct was to help them go through the door, help them get in the car. As I was graduating, I knew I wanted to get into health care. I was fortunate that I was introduced to the home medical equipment community.
Thompson: Please tell me a bit about your career up to now.
Guidetti: I’ve been at several different companies and worked my way up. I owned my own DME company for a few years, called Bright Morning Star, and then I went to work at Apria. I worked there from 2004 to 2008. I left and I became the CEO of Total Sleep Diagnostics Incorporated out of Dallas—and then I came back home to Apria Healthcare, and I’ve been back here since December of 2011.
Thompson: Why do you believe it’s important for providers to be actively engaged in advocacy?
Guidetti: As I got exposed to associations around the industry, I always saw great value in what they brought. It’s important because policy and reimbursement determine how we operate. Consider that competitive bidding over the past eight years put a lot of companies out of business. Many of these companies were providing what I consider to be some of the most valuable services in healthcare, and the fact that they went out of business is a shame. That should not happen.
Thompson: What do you say to the subset of HME providers who say, ‘I don’t have the time for advocacy’?
Guidetti: I would say that if the external environment is changing faster than your internal company, you won’t be around for very long. That’s an unfortunate truth in business. We have to pay close attention to the external environment. And many times, some of these policies go unchallenged. One company can’t carry the bucket of water up the hill. It takes a concerted, dedicated group of people, and none of us have enough time, but you have to find it. I consider it being on parallel with our jobs. What I did, working with our board at Apria Healthcare, I made sure they had an appreciation for the advocacy efforts and the impact it could have on both the company and the industry.
Thompson: How do you view the membership situation within AAHomecare?
Guidetti: While our membership is 300+ companies, it pales in comparison to the 6,000 companies in our industry that should support our mission. Advocacy is an essential to address policies that govern our industry. The HME industry is facing dwindling reimbursement rates and complex documentation which slows patient care, is costly, and hard to operationalize. Most importantly, patients may not always receive the essential care they deserve in the comfort of their homes. We appreciate that CMS is relaxing business rules during the public health emergency, but our industry needs ongoing relief from cumbersome rules. The HME industry at large should support AAHomecare and advocate for the industry.