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Taylorsville Journal

Taylorsville medical care business stays afloat thanks to Paycheck Protection Program

Jun 08, 2020 11:55AM ● By Carl Fauver

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

The world came falling out from under a new Taylorsville business owner, less than two weeks after she and a partner bought the company she had built from the ground up, as its executive director. Faced with possible financial ruin she never saw coming, Kris Carter turned to the kind of help that many of us instinctively think is more the problem than the solution.

Carter put her faith in banking behemoth JPMorgan Chase. But while we may think of the bank as a “Goliath,” Kris had no idea the pair of bankers who landed in her corner would be so “David-like.”

The result? Carter secured a $575,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan, ensuring none of her 58 Aspire Home Health & Hospice (1020 Atherton Drive) employees would have to be laid off.

“I couldn’t believe two bankers from such a huge operation would care so much,” Carter said, while failing to muffle tears. “I did not expect such a human touch from such a large organization. The loan allowed me to guarantee my employees’ salaries. When I told them we got the loan, they were crying, I was crying. They are like family and are so brave. I did not want to let them down.”

Aspire Home Health & Hospice opened its Taylorsville doors in 2010 with Carter as one of the founders. However, she did not have an ownership stake in the company. Instead, the business was simply one of many, owned by a larger operation.

Aspire has no on-site patients. Instead, its employees fan out across the Salt Lake Valley, serving patients where they live.

“We provide hospice care in private homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes,” Carter said. “We have traveling nurses, CNAs (certified nursing assistants), doctors and therapists. In addition to our 58 employees, we also have 30 contracted medical providers.”

About 15 months ago, Carter and one of her longest-tenured employees — registered nurse Wendi Snell — began thinking about purchasing Aspire from its multi-faceted parent company.

“We worked on it for about a year and finally closed the deal on March 2,” she said.

That was nine days before the NBA suspended its season, the first domino to fall in an economic collapse that had 36 million Americans filed for unemployment by mid-May.

“We weren’t thinking about coronavirus when we closed the deal,” Carter said. “We had been working on [finalizing the purchase] for about a year and just wanted to get it done.”

When word came out the federal government would make PPP loans available, Kris knew she wanted to be a part of it. But, so did millions of other small business owners. And we have all heard the stories about how many of them struck out.

Carter credits her success to the tenacity of JPMorgan Chase’s Phil Beck and Katalin Henderson, her “David-like” bankers. 

“It was a crazy four-day period (April 3–6); I had to submit my loan application online three times,” Carter said. “Katalin called me late on that Friday night, another couple of times on Saturday and again on Sunday. They both kept me constantly in the loop. And I know they were helping many other clients at the same time. I never would have got the loan if they hadn’t been so dedicated.”

Katalin Henderson called it a challenging but satisfying weekend.

“I couldn’t control COVID-19, but I could control how I worked with my customers,” Henderson said. “Our end goal was to help our clients and work to keep people afloat. Making the call to Kris telling her she had received her loan, I think we were both crying. It was very emotional.”

The $575,000 loan covered Aspire Home Health and Hospice employee salaries through April and May.

Through both rounds of the federal PPP loans, JPMorgan Chase officials report their company loaned nearly $380 million to 2,447 applicants, with an average loan size of just under $155,000. Aspire’s loan amount was more than 3 1/2 times that average. 

“I think we will survive this crisis,” Carter said. “But without that loan, I’m not sure.”

That’s 58 employees who have a tenacious new boss to thank for the jobs they still have, along with a pair of bankers who chose not to keep “banker’s hours.”

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