As a 1991 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, Rob Frediani is passionate about providing health care to underserved populations in Milwaukee.
In 2001, Frediani created the Institute for Collaborative Health Interventions Inc. (ICHI) to provide back-office support and business consulting services to small health care agencies that serve the needy, elderly or the chronically ill in underserved areas of the city.
In effect, ICHI works as a health care business incubator in Milwaukee’s inner city neighborhoods.
ICHI enables sole practitioners to run their own business, while extending needed health care services to economically disadvantaged populations. ICHI also looks to spur economic development by helping occupational and physical therapists get up and running so that they can hire others to help their practice.
“Since ICHI started in 2001, we have created 10 jobs,” says the 40-year-old Frediani, who was honored by UWM in 1997 with a Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) award. “So, these are people that are pulling down a living wage. They are getting benefits, paying taxes, and helping support their families. What we are trying to do is help small-business owners take care of these populations by creating jobs.
“Let’s say an occupational or physical therapist wants to start a clinic,” Frediani says. “If they are out there taking care of patients, maybe they aren’t taking care of their accounts receivable or answering their phones. That’s where ICHI comes in. We can help with billing, accounting, administrative staffing, and contract management.”
Through ICHI, Therapy Plus of Wisconsin was established in a senior center at 24th and Mitchell Streets. Therapy Plus is an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation agency that specializes in offering therapies, treatments and activities that promote independence and self-sufficiency for the elderly population it serves. Therapy Plus treats older adults who live in their homes and those with chronic ailments.
“In some instances, patients do not qualify for home health care and cannot get to a rehabilitation clinic to be evaluated,” says Mary Madsen, a professor and director with the UWM College of Health Sciences. “The assistance allows them to remain living an independent and meaningful life.”
For the past six years, Frediani and ICHI have been part of a project called Connecting Caring Communities. Working in neighborhoods with a high concentration of low-income adults, Frediani has brought together residents, merchants, service providers and civic leaders to identify issues that make those neighborhoods undesirable for older adults. The program allows residents to get a daily meal and talk to a nurse or an alderman while remaining in their neighborhood.
Through ICHI, Frediani says he would like to duplicate the model that helped establish Therapy Plus.
“There is lots of need around the city of Milwaukee,” he says. “Lots of folks could benefit by having a small clinic in their neighborhood. We are looking to find smaller (health care) providers that want to have an ownership stake. We want them to own it, and we will help them.”