This is a story of a woman, a story of strength, of tragedy, and of rising from the ashes to build a dream. It’s the story of Heloise Badenhorst.
When Heloise and Louis Badenhorst acquired the building which is now DeSoto Health and Rehab in 2014, the west wing was closed due to damages from Hurricane Charley. It reopened in July 2016 with 60 beds. Over the next year they added another 18 beds to accommodate 78 patients. Shortly after that construction was complete, Louis passed away. Several months later Hurricane Irma hit and destroyed the east wing.
“Just before the hurricane hit we took patients from the east wing and doubled them up with patients in the newly completed west wing so everyone remained safe during the storm,” Heloise explained of the September 2017 storm.
At this point Heloise had a decision to make, either give up, or stay the course and rebuild not only the building and the business again, but her life as well. When I asked what inspired her to make the decision that she did, Heloise quickly replied, “My faith in God.”
“The greatest struggle for me was to surround myself with the right people so we could go forward,” Heloise added,” my son Luan who at the time was the Chief Operations Officer became the Chief Financial Officer. My daughter Lume Badenorst came onboard as assistant administrator.”
More of the “right people” included Senior Advisor Marjorie “M.J.” Scott, and Marketing/Admissions Coordinator John Scott. Christian Henning and Liri Basha were instrumental in guiding the company through the paperwork needed to secure a Small Business Administration disaster loan to rebuild the facility. M.J. Scott continued, “I hear time and time again from Heloise that ‘we want to provide the best care for our residents, we want people to want to work here because we are the best place to work.’”
The west wing at DeSoto Health and Rehab is the area where they offer quality long term care for elderly patients who can no longer remain at home. Renovation on the damaged east wing is almost complete and will accommodate an additional 30 beds in large private rooms. The east wing is where they provide short term therapy for patients who have been released from the hospital but need to rehab in a supervised environment. A room has even been designed to simulate a typical home so patients can practice, and therapists can determine, how well they can complete the simple tasks they will be doing once they return home.
Heloise explained, “We are the third largest employer in Arcadia ... we presently have 106 employees, including CNAs, LPNs, RNs, dietary personnel, administrative staff, housekeeping and maintenance staff, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. That figure will go up as soon as the east wing is open.”
Future plans include a daycare center for the staff: “Since we operate 24 hours a day, it’s important that our employees have a place to leave their children during their shift. We also are thinking of a senior daycare center to provide families who are taking care of elderly members, a place to leave them in a caring environment for short periods of time,” Luan explained.
This is a company and a family that has been hit with adversity, and chosen to rise above their circumstances and rebuild rather than give up. It speaks to the character of Heloise Badenhorst and her family. There is a national Small Business Administration Disaster Award that is presented once a year to select companies that have gone through the fire of life’s many challenges and have risen from the ashes ... it’s called the Phoenix Award. DeSoto Health and Rehab has been nominated for this award. The winner will be chosen later this year and announced in a formal presentation in Washington, D.C.
Win or not, Arcadia is proud to say that Heloise Badenhorst is our neighbor, and that she has risen from the ashes of the adversity life can place before us. A true inspiration.