One may think that a pandemic such as COVID-19 could be lucrative for a healthcare provider. However, as panic struck in the Spring in response to the rapid spread of the virus, many patients canceled their appointments and small healthcare facilities were forced to shut their doors.
For Rosie Hoovler, this sudden loss of income had a major impact on the two businesses she has been building since 1996, Stafford Primary Care and Stafford Urgent Care. With a full staff of doctors, nurse practitioners, and administrative staff, the loss of income quickly sent Rosie into emergency mode.
“We had to react as quickly as possible to survive,” says Rosie. “We needed the funding as soon as possible because as soon as COVID-19 hit, people stopped coming in.”
Rosie isn’t a stranger to Carter Bank & Trust and community banks. When starting her business, she chose a local community bank for her business because she grew up believing that building personal relationships in small-town community banks was the best way to support your community. That bank was later acquired by Carter Bank & Trust and she had been content with her relationship with the bank ever since – until the economic crisis from COVID-19 arrived.
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very pleasant to work with when I was trying to get the loan,” she admits. “There was way too much confusion about the guidelines and I just needed the money as soon as possible.”
With two different businesses, she had trouble securing a loan for both during the first round because there was confusion around whether she could apply twice, despite having separate tax ID numbers. Through the third-party system, she didn’t have the same level of personalized support that she would later receive from Carter Bank & Trust.
“Carter Bank & Trust wasn’t prepared to work as an SBA lending partner for the first round so I had to use a third party,” says Rosie. “I was so thankful they were able to quickly resolve that and help me for the second round.”
At one point, Rosie’s frustrations drove her to open an account at Bank of America in case she needed to apply again through them. That was until she got in contact with Dawn DeHart when a second round of funding became available. Rosie has since closed her account at Bank of America, noting that Dawn DeHart’s patience and assurance saved her relationship with Carter Bank & Trust.
“The patience that Dawn had with me was above and beyond the call of duty,” she recalls. “She let me get angry and let out my frustrations on her, but was never afraid to call me back and face the challenges together.”
Throughout the experience, Dawn was able to educate her on the process, the guidelines, and acquired an additional PPP loan to support the payroll for her staff. Her fears of losing a 24-year old business were eased with every conversation they had.
“I understand it all a lot better now,” she says. “I took a risk with them again because Dawn was so good about staying in touch and reassuring me. I’m so grateful I did.”
Just having someone to talk to made the process much less stressful for Rosie, who still needed to focus on keeping her business running as best as she could. At one point, she had trouble with uploading documents to the system and Dawn personally took the time to make sure they were properly submitted.
“Dealing with a person who cared about helping you versus a computer form made all the difference,” she adds.
Despite securing a PPP loan for each business, the future is still uncertain for Rosie and her healthcare businesses. Funds are still tight and business is not yet back to normal levels. While they consider their options, including downsizing and applying for additional lending products, they’re able to continue to provide paychecks to their staff.
Due to the confusion around forgiveness guidelines and the delay of an application being released for the original 8-week forgiveness period, Rosie will have to wait until December to apply for loan forgiveness. In the meantime, she has taken it upon herself to become somewhat of an expert on what’s required and feels confident that when the time comes to apply, the process will be much smoother than the application process. However, there is hope that both her loans will receive automatic forgiveness if the Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Act is passed.
Until then, she’ll continue singing the praises of small town community banks like Carter Bank & Trust. Though she had her doubts during the dark days of the process, her lifelong belief that you should bank locally still holds true.
“Carter Bank & Trust is lucky to have Dawn and I am so lucky to have had her and the Bank on my side,” says Rosie.
It’s clear from this story that when local businesses supports local banks, those banks and their compassionate employees will do everything they can to keep their customers afloat in times of crisis.