As the newest member of the growing Breez Health team, we sat down with Patrick Whisennand, Senior Account Executive to ask him, “Why Did You Join Breez?”
I made the decision to join Breez Health, because I was incredibly inspired by their mission-first business model – to truly make healthcare more accessible and affordable to those in need. After speaking with Nick McLaughlin about his vision, I knew I had to be a part of this company. But for me, I connected with the Breez mission on a much more personal level, as a kid who had seen first-hand the financial devastation a serious illness can have on a family.
My story starts in the mid-90’s, navigating a handful of streets in a small rural Oklahoma town – I had little understanding of my mother’s health circumstances let alone our financial situation. She was a single mother of two, keeping the books for a rural co-op, and facing the reality of being unable to help her children navigate this world much longer. At this point, it had been an almost 3-year battle with breast cancer. No two cancer patients are alike, nor is the treatment – but the stories of impact can share a similar narrative. The toxicity of chemo and radiation treatments over those years left my mother brittle, exhausted, afraid, and a whopping 90lbs. She passed away August 10, 1996 – I turned 8 that year.
My sister and I were placed in the care of our cousins. They are now grandparents to our combined 6 children, I hold them in the highest regard, and they absolutely deserve the title of mom and dad. Beautiful people, who generated amazing experiences and unconditional love. Growing up, I would ask questions about our circumstances when mom was sick and reflect on my own memories. Hiding from the door-to-door bill collectors there to collect what’s due, scrounging for coins to help mom pay for a needed refrigerator, wearing donated clothing and shoes, and revolving food insecurity. But I also learned my mom was dropped from her commercial insurance plan due to a pre-existing condition. And that the local church, community members, and family assisted in covering some of the cost associated with her treatment. I am humbled by those efforts and can appreciate what that likely meant for my mom. However, I imagine much of the cost of her care made its way to a collection agency and subsequently, probate. And it left a lasting impact on me.
Surprisingly, my entrance into healthcare finance was an entry-level position at a medical debt collection firm. During the time I spent working in the ARM industry, I was fortunate to work with a team of empathetic, ethical, and client-focused individuals. The ARM industry is not for the faint of heart but there was no doubt our services were helping struggling hospitals, greatly needed in their communities, keep their doors open. Yet, I had an internal dilemma. I had directly felt and witnessed the consequences of medical debt and the subsequent financial toxicity patients faced.
And while these two experiences gave me a unique perspective on two opposite ends of the medical debt spectrum – I realized, it was time for me to take a more proactive role in helping other people, like my mother, seek and receive financial assistance resources they so desperately need.
When I met Nick McLaughlin and learned about what he was doing at Breez I knew I had to be part of achieving this mission and was excited about an opportunity to again partner and collaborate with hospitals but in a much different way. Through my new position with Breez I am able to be a resource to hospitals, helping them be successful in serving their communities, while also assisting patients receive the care they need at a cost they can afford.
If you are interested in learning more about my story and passion for helping hospitals with their charity care program, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.