Kara Welke has been an occupational therapist for more than two decades, but in recent years she has taken on the role of business owner, too.

After moving to North Dakota in 2004, she worked at Altru Health System in Grand Forks and later taught at Northland Community & Technical College. But she began noticing that some resources were lacking in the community to help older adults. That got her thinking, and soon she came up with a plan to start her own business. Home Therapy Solutions was born.

Welke, who started the business about three years ago, describes it as being not a home care service but a mobile outpatient clinic.

“We bring the outpatient clinic to people’s homes,” she said.

She said it’s difficult for senior adults with health issues to sometimes make their medical appointments, nor is it always easy for their caregivers to shuttle them to and from doctor visits.

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As the title suggests, Home Therapy Solutions is one solution to help fill the void.

“When I started teaching I realized that older adults really needed a lot more than what they were getting -- and not just in our community but globally,” she said. “And I knew there was a big push for outpatient care as a whole, because older adults can’t get out to an outpatient clinic, or if they can, it's a lot more taxing and hard for them to get there. Our goal is to help adults who live in their homes.”

Welke is based in Thompson, N.D., but her client base runs the gamut of the Greater Grand Forks region and, in some cases, farther. She has help from full- and part-time employees.She said her business has grown over the past three years.

“A lot of adults in our area, and in the state and nation, aren't really getting the care they need, and they're declining to the point where if they fall and have an injury or it gets too bad, then they have to move into an assisted living or nursing home,” she said. “Our goal is to help keep them in their home.”

Welke said she and her team work with a number of business partners in the region, including, among others, the Alzheimer’s Association, Cancer Center of North Dakota, Grand Forks Clinic, and the TeleECHO geriatric program at the University of North Dakota.

“That's another great resource in our community that a lot of people have no idea even exists,” Welke said.

One frustration she has is that some of the larger health care names in the region do not, in her opinion, always do a good job of referring patients to places like Welke’s business, because they like to keep referrals in-house. But, perhaps in part being a small-business owner but also because of what she saw years ago when she started her company, entities should work together.

“We are a community and all need to work together to take care of our older adults,” she said. “I guess they see us as competition, where we're collaborating with any and all health care providers to try to do the best we can for the client. So that's a struggle.”