Women in Business: Catherine Cook
Catherine Cook, right, with Serenity Health Care, works through
therapy movements with Thelma Gilstrap.
Written by Paul W. Sullivan
Catherine Cook views every client of her home health care business as the grandmother who raised her. That's the key to making sure about 50 elderly people in the River Region receive the help they need, Cook said.
"No one is a client to me," the Montgomery native said. "My grandmother who raised me is getting to the age she needs help. My clientele -- they are someone's mother or grandmother. That's why they are special to me."
That special attention has enabled Cook to grow her business from three clients to about 50 since June 2008, when she opted to start Serenity Health Care.
The 1999 nursing graduate of the University of South Alabama had worked more than 10 years in assisted living and home health care settings in the Mobile area. She understood what it took to take care of the elderly in those stages of life.
She lost her home during Hurricane Ivan and decided to return to her native Montgomery following Hurricane Katrina. Her apartment was flooded by the storm, causing her to lose all her valuables.
Once arriving in the Capital City, Cook and her husband, Patrick, decided to use her knowledge of the home health care and sitting business to open their own venture.
The 1991 Jefferson Davis High School graduate now oversees a host of nurse aides who help meet the daily needs of the elderly using Serenity's services.
The mother of four and member of Montgomery's Rivers Edge Church shared more about her business.
Q: What do you like most about the business?
A: I said to my grandmother when I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a nurse. I could be with people and love people. I'm adamant -- don't throw the elderly away. Society has a thing that says the elderly can't do this or that. I say they just need assistance to do it.
What is your biggest challenge?
Helping some clients understand that they can't do some things anymore that they once did.
What does Serenity do?
My goal is to keep clients in their homes as long as possible, and love them as much as we can. We provide light housekeeping, fix meals, administer medicine, help them run errands or keep appointments -- all our employees are nurse's aides.
How do you keep track of how your clients are doing?
Our nurse's aides call in when they arrive to stay with a client, and when they leave. I also go to see all 50 clients once a week. When I first go to see a potential client, I explain how we can make the living situation more comfortable, but we can't change it.
Do you have clients in assisted living too?
We do. We help them get bathed, dressed up and help them stay in the facility. We also have a few in nursing homes whose families are out of town and who can't get there. Our biggest clientele is dementia and Alzheimer's patients.
What role does your faith play in the business?
We have a ministry called Seasoned Woods Saints we developed that enables us to visit the elderly in nursing homes, houses or assisted living facilities. We read Scripture to them, or pray with them. We do that once a week on Thursdays.
How did you find your first clients?
They were all Sunday school friends at Eastmont Baptist Church in Montgomery. There is a high demand for what we do.
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