Carol Greenberg: The human in human services
Westchester County Business Journal
March 20, 2006
From left, Ellen Nash, vice president and co-founder, Siobhan Regan,
nursing supervisor and Carol Greenberg, president and co-founder of Concept:
CARE in the White Plains office.
This is the fourth in a series of features on the five winners of the
2006 Fifth Annual Westchester County Business Hall of Fame sponsored by The
Business Council of Westchester. Induction into the hall is a lifetime
achievement award for a business or an individual who has made a significant
contribution to their company and the Westchester business community.
Carol Greenberg grew up with her grandparents. They lived in the same
house with her parents and uncle in New Haven, Conn., and offered her a
close view of the issues associated with aging.
"My grandmother was the matriarch of the family, and she became ill and
was moved to a nursing facility. I saw her deterioration over time after she
was diagnosed with Alzheimer's."
The experience awakened a passion in her to provide the elderly
population with the high-quality care she herself would one day hope to
"I saw what life in a nursing home is all about and I did not want ever
to have to place my parents in a facility like that. It opened my eyes to a
commitment, a direction to develop something that would set a precedent."
The commitment led her to form Concept: CARE in 1995. The agency's
efforts over the next 10 years have led The Business Council of Westchester
to distinguish her with the 2005 Hall of Fame award for Women in Business
"We provide comprehensive care. There are so many options out there if
you have a loved one who needs care. There is home care, institutional
placement, assisted living, social day care and we work through them with
you," Greenberg says.
A client-care coordinator assesses a client's needs, including any
third-party funding that may be available and develops a plan for care with
In the first three years, the agency grew from 30 to 125 health-care
providers and has enjoyed steady revenues of more than $2 million for the
past four years.
After graduating from the University of Connecticut in Storrs in the
'70s, Greenberg wanted to combine her passion of caring for seniors with her
passion for music on Long Island. She went to work as a "recreationist"(music
therapist in today's terms) in a Long Island nursing home. Subsequently, she
worked for Kimberly Quality Care, a nationwide health-care provider with
local offices on Long Island.
SPONTANEITY OF HEALTH CARE
As she rose through the corporate ranks, she felt the growing distance
between herself and patients.
"I wanted to put the human back into human services and bring it back to
Greenberg also wanted to keep health care immediate and responsive.
"Health care is spontaneous. Health care is immediacy. We're dealing with
clients during a crisis. With big corporations, the decision you needed
today wasn't made until next week."
To provide the needed clinical background, she partnered with Ellen Nash,
who had a background in high-tech nursing.
Greenberg wrote the business plan for her vision in the White Plains
"Then I hit the road and tried to sell it."
She determined that she needed a $150,000 of initial investment to get
the concept off the ground.
When looking for an investor, she was looking for more than someone with
a deep pocket.
"I wanted a person to invest in a belief or a vision, I wanted someone
who was committed."
The initial investment was provided by four investors. One of them was a
lawyer, who offered legal representation in exchange for a piece of the
Ken Stern of The Stern Agency in Pomona in Rockland County was one of the
"She proposed ownership for a price as an investor and we decided to take
on a nice chunk of it. We felt very confident with her connections in the
industry and her deep commitment to the health-care profession. We saw a
return on our investment after two years and the business was doing
conceivably better than her projections," Stern said.
From the beginning, Greenberg designed Concept: CARE's physical location
to reflect the positive feelings she wanted her employees to feel when they
walked through the doors.
"I was willing to bite the bullet to have a small professional office in
a nice location. I wanted our caregivers to have a good feeling walking in
through our doors."
In 1995, the year the agency received its licensing from the New York
state Department of Health, the agency set up in a small space on the 10th
floor of 30 Main St., adding rooms as needed. Five years ago, she moved to
the 9th floor -- almost 3,000 square feet with seven full-time and three
part-time caregivers and where every office has a window. She has just
signed the second five-year lease on the space.
"Sometimes, health care is depressing and you need to have light come
in," she said.
Caregivers who work for Concept: CARE have a homehealth-aid certificate
for the state and a requirement specific to the company is that they have at
least six months of experience.
"I meet caregivers four or five times before they are sent into the
field. I want them to tell me why they're in this field, I look for a track
record of compassion."
Greenberg says out of 10 people who meet the qualifications on paper and
who are invited to an interview, only two get hired. At Concept: CARE, the
average age for caregivers is 40.
ELDER CARE IN THE FUTURE
With the rising aging population and increased life span, health care for
the elderly will only continue, if not escalate in importance and Greenberg
wants to keep the public focused on these issues.
"Thirty-five percent of our work force has elder-care responsibilities
and there are $37 billion dollars of lost revenue because people have to
take time off from work to take care of elderly relatives," Greenberg said.
In the early '80s, Greenberg worked for Barbara Bernard who then owned
Affiliated Home Care. Six years ago, Greenberg asked the retired Bernard to
join Concept: CARE as a community relations advocate.
"I thought we needed someone in the industry who would go out and educate
our communities on what the aging issues are and the options of choice for
our challenged population."