In the News: Home Health-Care Provider Rising, Reaching Higher

As the health-care industry becomes the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy, Tucson-based Dependable Health Services is positioning itself to continue expanding through technology and a commitment to its philosophy of caring for patients and employees.

“We’re trying to stay on the leading edge of the home health care environment,” said CEO Joe Schifano. “We’ve spent a lot of money on what we’ll soon be rolling out, which is our point of care device.”
The system gives employees in the field access to a patient’s records and real-time medical information, along with telemedicine features, through a Microsoft tablet computer. After more than a year of testing, the system is ready to launch.

“Once this is operational, it will be time to make the investments and expand into different marketplaces,” Schifano said. “We’re in the top 1 percent of home health care providers in the nation right now. We could become part of the one-hundredth of 1 percent.”

Getting to that spot will not be easy, but Dependable Health Services has managed to grow steadily for 23 years.


Founded in 1992 with longtime Tucson banker Tom Weir, Dependable opened offices in Phoenix in 1996, purchased Carondelet’s medical equipment and home health company in 2002 and started operations in Nogales in 2003.

Dependable is Medicare certified, licensed by the state and contracts with most insurance companies.

The company declined to share annual revenue but said it employs 800 people statewide, including an estimated 477 — 77 more than a year ago — in Southern Arizona.

But even with that sizable increase, the company could do more, Schifano said. It has the availability for at least 200 more employees — but finding qualified workers is always a problem.

“We want to be able to say that we accept 100 percent of our patients that are given to us, but we can’t because we don’t have enough nurses or therapists at times to be able to meet all the needs of those patients,” he said.

On a typical day in Southern Arizona, the company provides services to more than 2,000 patients. With baby boomers reaching age 65 and qualifying for Medicare at a rate of about 8,000 per day, that number will only keep growing.

During a recent home visit, nurse Danielle DaVault not only inspected and redressed a wound for her patient, she also answered the family’s questions about physical therapy and helped them get a power chair recommended by the patient’s physician.

“The nursing aspect of it is a lot of coordinating of care, which I love,” she said. “I have more control over their quality of care, which gives me the ability to get things done quicker for them and make sure everyone is working together.”

Dependable also offers employee training, classes and support while they are in the field, DaVault said. “I feel like I’m constantly growing as a nurse with this company.”


Part of the Affordable Care Act has been looking at the ways health-care providers deliver their services and trying to get the patients into the right environment, be it home health or long-term care, Schifano said.

This had led to increased partnering between providers.

“We’re seeing the hospitals, the long-term care setting, the hospices, home health care; everybody’s sitting around the table and coordinating the care across the board,” he said. “Before, everyone was sitting around the table thinking, ‘How do I get more patients?’ ”

The goal now, he added, is to be cost-effective by using money wisely while still getting the best possible outcome for the patient.