BROOKSVILLE — Just five years ago, a small staff of billing personnel moved from a cramped corner of the HealthSouth Corp. rehabilitation facility on Cortez Boulevard to the old office of the Hernando airport on Aviation Loop Drive.
Since then, the operation has flourished as HealthSouth has grown, forcing the billing office to find new, larger quarters. Recently, the staff moved to the retail plaza at 16228 Spring Hill Drive.
The staff of 10 that moved out of the rehabilitation center in 2009 has now grown to 80, and expansion plans continue, with the possibility of 100 employees in the future, said company spokeswoman Casey Lassiter. The office handles all of the company's home health billing nationwide.
HealthSouth first started to consolidate billing offices in 2008 and 2009, organizing them into six operating regions.
"Throughout the last several years, new hospital development projects as well as acquisitions of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals have led to several new hospitals being added to the centralized billing office in Hernando County,'' Lassiter said.
Valerie Pianta, Hernando County's economic development supervisor, called the HealthSouth operation "a great success story'' and noted that the new location is in an area near the airport with mixed uses, including retail, office space and even manufacturing.
She also praised the work of Diana Daerr, the central business office director for HealthSouth, for finding the right mix of employees to staff the facility and operating with a creative scheduling system that accommodates employees' needs.
Daerr said the expansion has been a real help to the local workforce.
"Hernando County has a talented workforce with many employees making the commute to Tampa to find employment," she said. "The growth of the HealthSouth central business office in Hernando County provides residents with an opportunity to work in their local community and keeps the talented workforce here at home."
She also noted that the community has numerous college graduates from local schools who are potential future employees.
"They are looking for an opportunity to put their bachelor's degrees in business or health care to use, and we have a training program to teach them the operation," Daerr said.
HealthSouth is the nation's largest owner and operator of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and operates in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
The 3,500-square-foot office that HealthSouth vacated has already been considered for several future uses, including a German apprenticeship program that has been embraced by the Hernando County Commission. The airport leases the facility for $3,441 per month.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.-