As far as Dr. Maurice N. Reid, can recall, no one in his family had ever been an entrepreneur. Yet several years ago, Reid had a burning desire to strike out on his own. He had just been named clinical director of the emergency department at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore. He was making good money and was happy with the management and his job. In spite of concerns expressed by some family and friends, Reid quit his job and, in his words, “jumped off a cliff.”
Reid doesn’t recall anyone in his family with the same entrepreneurial drive. He was one of four children who grew up in a middle-class household. His father assembled radar systems for aerospace company Martin Marietta Corp., and his mother was a substitute teacher.
Reid graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1995, and from Maryland four years later. He focused on emergency medicine at the medical system until 2003, having been named assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine in 2002. Two years later, he was named clinical director for the emergency department at Bon Secours Hospital.
While he liked his job, Reid wanted to build something on his own. He floated the urgent care idea past friends. “I said, ‘Let’s do this,’” he recalls. “But no one wanted to move on it.”
In fact family members warned him about quitting his job and taking on such a big risk. The risks, they said, were too great, especially since he was married, had a young family and a bright future at the hospital. “But I didn’t see myself being an administrator,” he says.
While others had doubts, Reid’s wife Laverne never questioned the move because she saw his drive and work ethic. He put together a business plan and applied for a Small Business Administration loan. But the agency took too long to make a decision; so Reid moved ahead, hammering out an agreement with a firm specializing in healthcare lending. He came up with additional funds to support the business by tapping the equity in his home. “If I fell on my face, my family still wasn’t going to wind up at the soup kitchen,” he surmised.
The grand opening in March 2005 was far from perfect. Local primary care physicians worried that ExpressCare would steal their patients, and they refused to refer patients to the clinics even for minor bumps and bruises that they were too busy to treat. “It was rough,” recalls Reid, who claims he didn’t take a day off over a two to three-year period. “There was very little assistance from local physicians to help me grow my business.”
The center also missed the busy cold and flu season by several weeks. Despite these initial setbacks the business began turning a profit, and Reid opened a second ExpressCare in June 2006, followed by a third in 2007 and a fourth in 2008.
He hopes to add one or two more ExpressCare centers and eventually offer national franchises. Reid believes ExpressCare centers are catching on as insurance companies continue to clamp down on reimbursements. He charges $200 to sew up a laceration while a hospital emergency room charges $1,500 for the same procedure. “We’re saving insurance companies a lot of money,” he says.
Reid has no regrets about leaving the security of the hospital to strike out on his own. “I feel good,” he says. “It’s been risky, but I find myself happier than if I were a mere cog in the wheel.”