RN Professions

Ep. 7: RN, CEO & Founder of Holliblu

January 20, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
RN Professions
Ep. 7: RN, CEO & Founder of Holliblu
Chapters
RN Professions
Ep. 7: RN, CEO & Founder of Holliblu
Jan 20, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Alli Merrell, Cara Lunsford

Cara Lunsford, a Registered Nurse and Healthcare Technology Innovator who created the HolliBlu App dedicated to connecting nurses with other nurses and with nursing jobs. 

HolliBlu is revolutionizing the way nurses manage their careers and the way healthcare companies find those highly skilled individuals. 

Show Notes Transcript

Cara Lunsford, a Registered Nurse and Healthcare Technology Innovator who created the HolliBlu App dedicated to connecting nurses with other nurses and with nursing jobs. 

HolliBlu is revolutionizing the way nurses manage their careers and the way healthcare companies find those highly skilled individuals. 

Alli:
00:00
Hey, Cara, thank you so much for coming on the RN Professions podcast. I'm really, really excited to learn more about what you're doing now and kind of where the direction of Holliblu has gone and what kind of what your goals are for this year. Can you tell us how long you've been a nurse and what your current RN  profession is?
Cara Lunsford:
01:18
Sure. Well, thank you for having me and thank you for reaching out. And, uh, so I have been a nurse for going on 13 years. This will be my 13th year. Um, I started out my profession in pediatric oncology, which I did for about eight of eight of those years. Um, and I worked at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and ah, and then I have done a variety of of nursing professions. Since then, I have worked in home health. I've worked in hospice. I've been an infusion nurse. I've been a director of nursing. Um, I helped build a an after care, a post surgical aftercare in Beverly Hills. Um, on. And then after a while, I was kind of doing my director of nursing position. I was working on my own company, which is Holliblu.
Cara Lunsford:
00:00
So I still I do bedside in that I still see patients. I have some private patients that I've seen for a long time. I also have some patients that, you know, just kind of Come on. Uh, I worked with, like in in the home. I occasionally still do some hospice if I'm called to do it s o. I worked for a company. One of one of the companies, actually, on Holly blue called a Grateful hospice. I worked for them. I sometimes moonlight for them, and, uh so, yeah, I do still do something nursing.
Cara Lunsford:
03:10
 So private duty nursing is So when I was a director of nursing, I was director of nursing for a privately kind of concierge home house. So that's actually how I got into private duty. Um, but it's It's essentially, um, let like more of a higher profile clientele, um, usually more affluent population that can afford to have private nursing. Um, sometimes you we'll work with people who have had surgeries and they just want some care at home after their surgery. Maybe they've had plastic surgery and they want some care at home after their plastic surgery. Um, sometimes it's, you know, for an aging population, you know, somebody you know wants to pay for private nurses for there. Aging mother or their aging father. Um, I've done all kinds of private duty nursing, So I've worked with actually a pediatric oncology patient in private duty, Um, who just needed care, Like during, like, times of, like, fever and neutropenia. Um uh, Or when they were just, you know, kind of struggling with their care, um, are with their health at that time. And then I've done you know, I've I've done, like, really interesting private duty cases where it worked with celebrities and I've traveled with bum. Um, I've I've done I've worked with high profile businessmen and, uh, just flown them across, you know, to Europe on back on their blame. I've got all kinds of private duty nurse saying so there's tons and tons of opportunities out there. I think it's really interesting because, um, nurses, I think our gate, of course, they're getting very burned out especially, very burned out at the bedside. So it's nice when you can, like, pick up something that's easy. You know, you're just with one person and you know, and sometimes it's like a lot of just caregiving, and it's not even really nursing. It's just caregiving or companionship sometimes. So it's really it's really a very interesting type of of a nurse profession.
Alli:
05:42
So what would you suggest for the nurses that maybe this is like a whole new idea for them? How would they go about getting started in a position like that?
Cara Lunsford:
05:51
So, you know, interestingly enough on my on Holliblu, I've I've introduced a couple of concierge companies. And so if if they go, if they go into Holliblu, they can connect with, like concierge, nursing direct or hell at home nursing or prove a care or, um, even drip ivy there be. They do like, you know, some high profile cases sometimes, and and you're just going out and starting IV's and giving these vitamin drips and stuff like that. So, um, I've I have thought about it, and so I added some of those things in a lot of times, it's just you get in and you get into a one case. And once you get into one case, you kind of get circulated into this community of private duty. Um and, you know, you just get pulled in. I always tell people that, like, as good as the money is, it's feast and famine. So I do not recommend that people just, like, leave their full time jobs and their life I'm gonna do prior to duty full time. I know nurses that do it, but I will tell you like it is Ah, hustle. Like so you know, you definitely have to leg. Um, you know, be hustling for the next job in the next job in the next job, and sometimes it dries up like it just gets dry. So it's grateful, like a little extra money. It's definitely great for act funny, but I do not recommend that people just, like stop there full time gig all together. Isn't that like, how does that work? The Yeah, it's all private pay and no so you know, even though, like there's like people who call and they want private nurses and they're there. There's certain that their insurance is gonna pay for it. If you're out there listening, your insurance is not going to pay for it. I had this conversation was so many people when I was the director of nursing and they're like, But I have great insurance And I said, I don't care how great your insurance is. Your insurance is not going to pay for this. I'm happy to give you a super bill, and you can for sure submit it. But I have yet to have someone come back to me and be like, Hey, my insurance paid. They just don't. So, um, But I do think that eventually I'm hoping that the insurance companies air going to get a little bit more keen to the idea of paying for private nursing because I truly believe that it actually would keep more, uh, people out of the hospital. The readmission rates would go down. Um, I really think the overall quality of care would actually see if if they did, you know Cem analysis, they would probably see that it's actually cheaper, you know, Then people ending up in the hospitals and and how much they end up spending for somebody being in the hospital. So
Alli:
08:59
Totally That makes so much sense.
Cara Lunsford:
09:01
Yeah, so, I mean, I'm you know, in my next life, I'll probably do that, like, all getting really go to bat for private, you know, private duty nursing to be covered by insurance. Um, so So, yeah, so I'm hoping that that that will, you know that will happen someday.
Alli:
09:21
So tell me where holly Blue came from. Where in in you? What experiences led you to making this amazing app for nurses?
Cara Lunsford:
09:31
So a couple of things when I was ah, nurse at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Um, I needed to join a committee like so, like after my first years. You know, second year, you know, when you when you become a RNII to you have to join a committee. And I didn't like any of the committees. And I was like, you know, I really have an idea for a bet like you for a committee called the Supportive Care Committee. And, you know, I talked to some other nurses on the floor, and they they they also liked the idea. So, you know, we pitched in and we ended up getting, um ah. Committee called a supportive care committee. And ah, and when that the purpose of that committee was really to support patients families nurses through end of life because I was seeing so much burnout happening and, ah, and in the process of doing that, I started thinking about Well, gosh, like, you know what if this could be done on, like, a really grand scale, like what if you could pull the nurse communities together and really, really provide a supportive environment for them? So that was part of like my my thought process. And, you know, I would kind of daydream about all the things that I would do for nurses if I could kind of pull them all together, um, and and bring them into a community. So and then when I became a director of nursing, I started seeing, like all the pain points on the administrative side of things. So, like when you're running a home health and when it comes to mobilizing your nurses and communicating with your nurses and knowing who your nurses are, I realized that I had, like, 100 nurses that were working for us. But if you would ask me how many of them had oncology experience or how many of them our, um, pediatric nurses or how many speak Spanish or how many of them know how to pull a PICC line? I didn't know any of these answers like So you know, when we were reaching out to people, there was so many inefficiencies in terms of, you know, me just telling a staffer like we'll call everybody, ask them ask, Ask them if they're you know, if any of them are pediatric or if any of them can access a port A cath and I was like, This is absurd, like, I can't believe that this is how we're doing things. And one of my staffers at one point said, Well, maybe we just need to create an Excel file and we can search on the ex cell phone. I was like, This is so archaic. I'm like, Why are we using Excel? I'm like Excel is great, but like, this is why technology exists, like we should have some sort of platform where we can not only just, like, know who is working for us, but then when we're sending out our needs and our assignments to these nurses. We could be sending them to the right people instead of bombarding nurses with requests. And like, you know, we didn't know that they lived 50 miles from a patient. So why would we send them this request anyway? You know? So, um So I started thinking about it from that side from the business side of it and how I could make things a lot easier in terms of managing your existing workforce but also recruiting. And when you do need to recruit, shouldn't you kind of know who you're recruiting like? Shouldn't you be able to filter and browse and look for nurses That fit a certain profile? And so we built that side of it of Holliblu as well, so that all of these pain points kind of converged to create the beginnings of Holliblu.
Alli:
13:36
There aren't many nurses who use Linked In unless they're an administration or stuff development or, you know, things like that. So this is kind of the place that's so nursing specific can be so huge for nurses and nursing students trying to figure out what's available to me as a nurse, right? and that's what I'm doing with this podcast is I'm like, there's so many things out there that that I'm still learning and I've been at this for over 10 years. So what are the nurses, the nursing students thinking, you know, looking into this scary world of the health health care system in the state of, you know, the health care system Now So having something like this, a place where nurses can connect that's specific to what we need to know and people we need to meet and agencies that weaken connect with. I think that's so awesome. So you're coming at it from this creative business side where there's there's a need, you know, there's a problem. Let's solve this problem and help all these people. But then also from the community side. So So tell me like the features of Holliblu how this  so we can see that they're, you know, works for agency nursing. It works, you know, I live next, this patient and I have this time available. Let's do it and I'll sign up for that. But as faras the nurse connection and, um, you know, having the team that sanctuary feeling within the app. Tell me what You know what nurses can find on their fourth for the
Alli:
14:56
Cool. So Well, So some of what we're building out right now is we're building out. Some community feels like a community. Feel thio to the app. So there's like a lot of really cool stuff that's coming. That's like super state of the art that like no one's ever seen before, So that's very, very, very exciting. But, um, nurses will be able to, um, you know, connect and share and, um, and organize and create groups and mentorship and and all of this stuff like they will be able to do all of that stuff. Right now, we kind of do all of our support off. A lot of our support is done offline. So we're doing like these pizza parties right now over sending pizza two nurses all across the United States, um, to their units. So, um, like, today we have a pizza party every Friday. We have a pizza party for a unit somewhere in the United States. Um, and I think it's Philadelphia today, Actually, this is where, uh, party.
Alli:
16:03
I just want to get in because I read that story of where the pizza parties came from. So do you think you could just highlight maybe that you know where the pizza party idea came from?
Cara Lunsford:
16:11
Yeah, absolutely. So, so, so funny enough. Like there. There's like, it's kind of a two pronged thing, right? So I I used to work on Children's hospital and I used to work with the patient. Her name was Hazel. And, uh, so, nurse dot or gran a an article about us because, um, we did a partnership with hope for Hazel, um, and to do these pizza parties. So Hazel ah had neuroblastoma. She passed away in March of last year, and she was seven years old, but when she was two years old and she was first diagnosed, she was actually in, Um huh, isolation for a cold. And we, um and she got really bored and on her grandmother said when I was in the hospital, uh, when I was a kid, we would put on our door, send pizza, and so she had. So So she and her mom and her grandmother put used medical tape to write on her window. Send pizza room 40. I think it was 41 12. I think so. I might be wrong about the room, but I'm pretty sure it was 41 12 and Ah, And first nothing happened. And then, like a few days later, someone was walking in the bonds parking lot and looked up and saw the sign in this window and posted it on Reddit, and it went viral. All these people from all over the United States started sending pizza.
Alli:
18:02
That is so beautiful to me. Oh, my gosh.
Cara Lunsford:
18:05
Right. I know, like, so amazing. And there's all these great pictures of Hazel and the kids eating pizza, and they actually fed the entire hospital. I think the house will actually make, like, a public service announcement to please stop sending pizza. Oh, my gosh. I didn't make any more pizza at some point, like there was just like they were, like, just coming in by the droves. So, um, so flash forward? Um, I was actually talking Thio Georgie, our director of partnership, smart and marketing. And she was working on the floor one day, and I and she was talking about how, like, how tough their day was. And I said, Why didn't you know, let Hollywood treat you guys to Cem of pizza? And she's like, Really? And I said, Yeah, you know, just used the company card and buy pizza and she was like, Okay, so she went ahead and she like Bob Pizza and choose in Chicago on a travel assignment. And, um and she sent me these pictures and everything of all these nurses eating pizza, and she posted them. And I was like, Wow, what if we could do that on a a grand scale? We could just do pizza, you know, like seven pizza like nurses. Never. We don't have time to eat. We never have time to eat. But pizza's good cold. So, like you can like lettuce. It will eat it like an hour later. Um, and so I was like, You know what? Let's like, let's think about this. Let's think about If we could do this, we could actually feasibly do this and, um, s. So I reached out to Hazel's mom, and I said, Um, when you had all those pizzas delivered, was there any like one kind of predominant company that kind of sent a lot of pizza, and she was like, Well, that was kind of a mix, But there was a lot of Papa John's. So I was like, OK, well, maybe I can, like, reach out to Papa John's And, you know, and And we can, you know, do this, You know, I'm kind of a grand scale And and then she said to me on the phone, she said, Did you know that I'm writing a memoir for Hazel? Um, and it's called Send Pizza. And I'm like, Oh, man, I know I didn't know you were doing And so all of a sudden it kind of like all came together and I was like, We're gonna do this. We're gonna do this together. We're gonna like cure cancer. We're gonna support nurses and we're gonna eat pizza. And and that was our campaign. And that's how we came up with our campaign name. Um, and now we've, like, connected with ST Baldrick's and all of the proceeds from any of the shirts that we sell. They all go to ST Baldrick's. We're working with ST Baldrick's to try and really drive attention awareness to them as ah, researcher for pediatric cancer, Um, in a foundation for pediatric cancer. So it's Yeah, it's been really, really exciting. And it's been one of our efforts that we're doing out in the community. That is It is how we're building community, and it is how we're showing our support for nurses. But eventually that'll all kind of be involved in the technology as well. Um, but for now, you can pretty much like organize your professional life. You can keep track of all your licenses in your certifications you can connect with cos if you're interested in just connecting with companies, um, you can browse them and connect. Um, and you can create a very nurse specific profile that converts to a resume for you should you ever need it. So that's some of the stuff that it does right now, but it's gonna do lots of cool stuff very soon. I'm so excited for you, Carol. Why do you think that? Why do you think that
Alli:
22:05
Nurses are so creative. Why do you think that nurses are so innovative?
Cara Lunsford:
22:11
That's a really good question. You know, I I think about that a lot. You know why? Why? We're such an innovative bunch of people, you know, and I think that in some ways I don't know if it's the type of person that goes into nursing or if it's something that you start to acquire as a nurse, because I think that we are tasked a lot of times with really looking at things in a very different way, way we look at our patients in a different way. We, um you know, we try to put the puzzle pieces together, we try to figure out like, what's not working and why isn't it working? And you know, why is this medicine not working? And what could we be doing better? And and I think that we start to train our brains to in some way Thio to think outside the box, Um, and to not just follow, you know, we don't just follow orders. We were very created, Evan and me, and we have to be, you know, for our patients to have really advocates, you know, for us to be real advocates for patients. And so I do think that we train ourselves in some way, and then eventually we start looking at the world through a different lens. and, um and I and I think that that's part of why we are so innovative.
Alli:
23:39
I totally agree. I think we're like we're problem solvers. We're always looking for the next problem to be solved no matter what, what what it takes. And I think just going through, you know, with your experience of of having, you know, the child, the Children's oncology and the heartbreak and seeing that that burnout from an emotional and physical level and then just and then to go into home health and have it repeated, You know, when that have your having organize your own schedule, I can see how all of your, um, you know, your unique experiences within your the step, the sidestepping and all of your journey, how it's kind of come together to create this really beautiful thing that is really gonna be so, you know, a cycle of virtue. It's it's feeding into the nursing profession, which then feeds into the rest of the population. So it's just gonna really I think he's so beautiful for for the entire process of nursing patient relationships and nursing health. And so I'm I'm super excited for you, and I just I want to know, actually. What? Um, 2020 the year of the nurse. Right. So what are your What's your vision for this year with Holly Blue and everything that you guys were working on to get that, um, you know, nurse Connection side put together what would be like a successful 2020 for you?
Cara Lunsford:
24:52
Oh, my gosh. A successful 2020 you wouldn't be tapped. Every nurse in the whole United States, you know, um, joined the community. A man that wouldn't that be amazing, right? Totally. Uh, you know, but But I think that really getting our message out there and having people truly understand who we are, what we're about. And, um, you know what? Our mission, what our mission is and what our vision is would be amazing. You know, really just kind of, um, having, uh, having that brand awareness would be so awesome because I know that nurses have been really exploited for a long time, and I think there's a lot of trust that you need to build within the community. They don't just give it away. And for good reason. They don't just give it away, because so many times You know, um, companies have come in and they look like they're a nurse, supportive company or, uh, the or they're an association. And they say that they're supporting nurses, but you don't see it. You never see it. They're like, Oh, they just take dues or they take money. But you don't see it, you know, or you don't feel it for sure. Don't feel how they're supporting you. So I think for me, having brand awareness and having people really, truly understand our mission in our vision that that would be so great for 2020
Alli:
26:38
II just have a couple more questions as we close up, but I wanted to know if there was if you could glean some of your wisdom for Maybe there's some nurses that are out there and there. They've got a problem and they don't know where to start. Um, what were some of the resource is that you came across her That you may be some books he read or some some things that fed into how you were able to do this successfully. What could you tell them?
Cara Lunsford:
27:18
Yeah, absolutely. And and I'm always really happy to answer people's questions, too. So they, you know, they can always like, feel free to, um, e mail like partnerships and holly blue dot com. Look, if they ever like actually working on something and they need help, But, um, you know, in in the beginning, I will tell you I made a lot of mistakes, and and I and it's not and and I use the word mistake lightly. Um, because really, there are no mistakes. They're just all like learning opportunities, everything that you do. And maybe you feel like I should have done it differently. It just prepares you for the next thing. So there's gonna be so many things that you're just gonna do wrong, and it's just, you know, But I think that the idea is is that you just keep pushing. So, like, if you have a great idea, you don't let anyone tell you that your idea is not going to be successful or, you know, I had somebody say to me one time Oh, that's cute. The dispute as the worst. Not like cute, you know? And really, you know, that could have stopped me in some way or I could have been really deflated by. But really, I was just like, I'll show you cute, you know, like it and I'll show you cute and s o, you know, getting those things, you know, to fuel you instead of to deter you just, you know, use it as fuel. And then, you know, also goto, like lots of these, like, need ups and mixers and stuff like that. There's so many, like meet ups for, you know, innovators. And if you're looking to get into technology or something, like go to tech meet ups, you're gonna meet a ton of like technology people. Um, you know, if you're doing a tech start up, you know, one of your partners should be a tech person. F y I like, which was not the case with me in the beginning. So, you know, like, I do recommend, like, if you're whatever industry you're in, um, or that you're thinking of launching into. It's generally a good idea to maybe, like, try to have a partner or something that, um, that works in that industry. Um, but, you know, that being said, it's like, it's it is. It's just like familiarizing yourself. I love master class. I don't know if you ever listen to master class
Cara Lunsford:
30:14
I was listening to Sara Blakely from Spanx, and she is amazing. And I was like, I like, even like in my times when I'm starting to, like, be like, Oh, man, am I like running out of steam here like and you know, she really, like, invigorated me to, like, keep going. I was like, Wait a minute. I was like, I don't need all this fancy stuff. I don't eat a bunch of fancy anything, like, I just need to put my brain, you know, toe work. And and I just need to create my teams, and and so, yeah, I That's what I recommend is I ever make I recommend a lot of a lot of mixers and always talking to people. Talk about what you're doing all the time because people are listening and you never know who was gonna, like, say, Hey, I'd be interested in investing in that or Hey, I could help you in some way or hey, do you need this so like talk and talk and talk and talk about what you're doing all the time.
Alli:
31:24
I think that's so smart. And I love I love that you touched on. You know that person that said, Oh, that's cute cause it's It's kind of like we get to this place where we think this idea is wonderful and it's great We could see it like laid out in front of us And then someone shot comes to shut us down and it almost kills. That's you know that doesn't kill the drive, but it kind of kills your, you know, enthusiasm. And so it's like someone else's limitations, you know, preventing your potential. That's like the worst thing I can imagine. So the fact that you were like Okay, well, I'm gonna do this, and I'm gonna figure it out. And and here you are. Now, with this amazing resource for so many people, I know it's gonna be so helpful. And I'm really excited for you. Um, and I just want to ask you one more question. Cara, if you could say something to the nursing version nursing student version of yourself, what would you say?
Cara Lunsford:
32:09
 Don't give up. And always remember why you became a nurse. That changes, right? Yeah, it does. It does. Let's change why you became a nurse changes, Um, remembering that passion that you had when you first went into nursing school And like, how hard you fought for that license. And you know, those tireless, tireless years of nursing school that feels like but boot camp And like you did it also, this you could get this license and how you felt the first time you saw that you passed the ANC, lex. And like I walked around saying like, Hi, my name is Cara and I'm an RN. And that was It was like ad nauseum were like, Yeah, we get it, We get it. You're like, but like, remember that. Like, because it's hard. The job is hard. And, like sometimes the life gets sucked out of us and and we don't feel appreciated. And, um And there's just all these different policies that keep getting put into place to make our job harder and harder and and so it's hard to remember that. But every once in a while, I think it's good to, like Remind yourself.
Alli:
33:37
Absolutely. I thought that. Remember your why. Cara, Thank you so much for coming on. And for sharing Holly blue. And I'm gonna I'm gonna go ahead and put all of your contact information and and all the website details on their um, I really appreciate your time. I'm super excited to see where this goes and how 2020. The year of the nurse. Um, you know, we'll effects the nursing industry and in your business, So I'm excited to just keep an eye and see how things go. Thank you so much.
Cara Lunsford:
34:06
Thank you for having me. It's really been great.
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