The doctor in charge of a private practice, two urgent cares, a wound-care company, nursing-home and home-health visits - all while advocating strongly for a hospital in Ahwatukee Foothills - just added to his list a new hospice care and the Professional Employment Organization.

"One thing I've always tried to do with my patients is follow it from beginning to end," said Dr. Kenneth Pettit, who owns Comprehensive Family Care, Desert Ridge Urgent Care Centers and, now, Comprehensive Hospice and Palliative Care.

"When you have a patient that you develop a relationship with as a family practitioner and then they're given that devastating diagnosis, the next thing that a lot of times will happen is a team that you have absolutely no relationship with will be the ones who will help you through that last process," Pettit continued. "I've always tried to make myself available if they want me to be able to be with them during that time period, because I've worked with some of them for years before they get to that point. Why would I wait till that last minute when things are really tough to leave?"

Pettit says he understands doctors who do transition care to a specialist for hospice, but he believes he has been lucky to have the team that he has to make it all come together. The ownership includes Charlotte Igo (RN, BSN, MHA), Peggy Orenstein (RN), Jon Chandler (RN, MBA), and Chris Pfund (PHR, MBA) with Pettit as the primary physician.

"There's only so many hours in a day, and days in a week, and I can't do everything but, at the same time as I start to identify those needs, having a good team in place - once you have that team in place - we can do anything," Pettit said. "I've just been excited that we've been able to establish that so we can move forward and grow."

On an average Monday morning by 8:30 a.m., Pettit had already seen nine patients and been on two conference calls. He's always busy, but he's busy because he loves what he does.

"In our world we're going to do everything we can to let the patient have the best experience they can have," Pettit said. "I don't want to rule the world I just want to help the people we come in contact with. We feel that we have a good team in place. We feel that we are going to give the best care that we can give."

Pettit's new hospice care is all about allowing people with a terminal illness to enjoy the life they have left. The new Professional Employment Organization, or PEO, is about supporting small businesses.

"There's a new government rule that's coming out about small businesses providing insurance and benefits for their employees," Pettit said. "With me, I have several small businesses that employ people, but not to any magnitude that would give me any negotiating power at the table with the insurance companies. When you take all the employees I have and put them together, it gives us a nice little pool. That pool then allows us to go out to the market and negotiate for a health plan, retirement plan, 401k. When you create a PEO, and you legally register it and set it up, then you can offer that to other small businesses."

The PEO is not just for medical businesses because Pettit realized that if he was having this problem, other businesses might be as well.

"I wanted to be a nurse for the same reason as many people, to help people," said Igo, who runs the PEO. "Then I grew up and got involved in the business side of things. I was shocked to find out that a grand majority of doctors and nurses either have no insurance or really poor insurance, and that most medical businesses are mom-and-pop shops. I had no idea. I have a fair amount of experience in the corporate world, and they have this incredible support system. They also have a fair amount of bureaucracy. But I stepped back out of it and ran into friends who had no insurance for themselves, their employees, or their families. Bringing everyone together we essentially co-employ whomever it is, including themselves. They get the corporate support system, but they can run their own business."

When asked why he does all that he does rather than focusing on one area, Pettit has a simple answer.

"It's not who I am," he said. "People do what they do. You can take a need and create an opportunity. Because I have access to all the different things that I do, I can identify needs in the process. If you can take those needs and use your resources and roll it into one, then everyone wins.

"Usually, I put the program together and we get it going and establish that program. Once it's established, then I'll kind of transition out of the way of the program and put more front-line people in, but still stay available. I work at the urgent care. I work at my practice. I work hospice. I do all those things. I think by doing all those things I'll continue to keep my awareness of the industry. At the same time I know I can't do all those things, so once I get my business stabilized to the degree I can, then I can start adding people in and pulling myself out of it a little bit more."

Speaking of awareness of the industry, Pettit is always aware of the need for a hospital in Ahwatukee. New federal laws say he's not allowed to open his own, but he says there's still a team working on it and he's always there for support.

"I can be involved in the ideas for development and the community," Pettit said. "With the things I've done over the course of time I've had interaction with a lot of community people who have come to me about it. I've gotten the attention of people to come to me so I think I can be a huge resource to people if things are already in place and the needs that people have are verbalized to me. Maybe between now and then the bill will change and allow me to have some ownership in that, but until then I can help from a distance."

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