OWNER AND OPERATION MANAGER OF PRN HOME CARE, KEARN CHERRY

PRN Home Care is the third business venture of the entrepreneurial,  husband and wife team of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Cherry. Kearn was raised in  Biloxi and graduated from Biloxi High. While attending college, she worked as  a part time medical clerk at KAFB Medical Center. She has always been drawn to  business and specifically the medical field. Kearn’s husband was in the  military and was first stationed in Germany. During their time overseas she  continued her education in nursing.”I always expected to finish my nursing  degree over there but that didn’t happen,” she said. When Dennis received  orders to transfer to Arizona, the young couple moved again. Kearn was anxious  to pursue her studies but getting into nursing school was next to impossible  because there were so few slots and hundreds of applicants. “My husband and I  both tried for years to get into school, but in order to make a living as we  waited for a slot, we sought employment in a nursing home and started out as  nurses aids,” she said.
There was quite a buzz about Occupational Therapy and the many  opportunities in the field. The school was in Tucson which was an hour and a  half away from their home base of Sierra Vista. The couple took the trip to  investigate, with their three little children in tow. They were accepted and  made the decision to commute to Tucson each day. During this time, Kearn left  the nursing home and began working with a Staffing Agency. To alleviate the  stress of the constant commuting, Dennis carpooled with 2 other students while  Kearn stayed over night to work.
Dennis continued to work in Sierra Vista  while Kearn worked in Tucson. It was quite a rat race but somehow they did  everything they needed to do. “We were totally by ourselves in Arizona, no  family close by which made things even harder but my parents helped out. We  went from going to school to full time internships and trying to hold down  full time jobs,” Kearn said. The couple finished the day after Christmas in  1995. They immediately packed up their little family, put everything they  owned in storage, and drove straight through to Mississippi! “We had gotten  our Associates in OT and planned a stop over in Biloxi, not intending to stay.  Our plan was to go to Florida…but we ended up taking jobs here and settling  down on the Coast,” Kearn said.
Dennis and Kearn worked at several nursing homes in South Mississippi.  They were contracted through Rehab One from 1995 to 1997. They served as  Occupational Therapist Assistants and helped rehabilitate patients in order to  restore their previous abilities. It was often relearning the most basic of  things such as dressing, grooming, and being able to go from a chair to a bed  and visa versa. From 1998 to 2000 Kearn worked for Nova Care in the same  capacity. Dennis opted to take employment elsewhere during that time but they  soon would be working side by side once again.PRN Quality Staffing was developed to cater to the staffing needs of  health care professionals, specifically Occupational Therapists (OT’s),  Physical Therapists (PT’s), and Speech Therapists in 1997. PRN means “As  Needed” which is the stamp you will find on many prescription bottles! Dennis  and Kearn were trying to build their new business and secure contracts which  was very difficult while working their regular jobs. In 1999, their was a  terrible collapse in these fields throughout America. It was due to the major  changes put into place through Medicare for their new billing systems. Kearn  was well aware of what lied ahead because she made it a point to attend  national conferences and the warning was given repeatedly that the system  would be very different once Medicare began making these cuts. “It was so bad  that many people quit their jobs and went to work in the casinos. They had no  intent to return to health care,” Kearn said.
In response to the budget cuts,  Kearn and Dennis decided that they would formulate a company that would allow  home care for ailing seniors. They worked for very low wages in the beginning  but they saw a desperate need for this kind of care and felt it was their  calling to help the aged. The need is so great for rehabilitation and rebuilding lives that there  is no denying the importance of this highly specialized branch of health care.  “The goal is always to get these patients to be able to function as they did  before an illness, accident or surgery. The goal is to give them their  independence back so they can live productive, full and happy lives again,”  Kearn said. PRN offers a service that allows seniors to stay in their homes if  at all possible, as well as assist with care in a private facility. “We offer  families a choice. We want them to know that nursing homes are not the only  answer…there are other options,” she added. Nursing homes were created for  people to have a place to die, not to live.
Kearn urges people to think in  steps: Start at home and do as much as you can in the home setting. Then if it  is not possible for your loved one to remain at home, perhaps Assisted Living  would be the answer and work well. After all these options have been  exhausted, then it would be time to go to the last resort of a nursing home.  “It is very sad but most people have no idea what is available to them and how  they can get the help they need to care for an elderly parent or family  member. They don’t have the knowledge and have no idea where to begin. Kearn Cherry knows everything you need to know about senior care and is  delighted to share this information with you. “We cater to the caregivers, so  the adult children can get assistance with this awesome responsibility and get  the resources they need. All they have to do is call me and I will assist in  any way I can,” Kearn said.
Kearn and Dennis have been in business for over fourteen years. They  serve the Gulf Coast in Mississippi as well as through Mobile, Alabama and  Louisiana. PRN is a family company. Eldest son, Dannan, left home at the age  of 19 to make it on his own but has returned. One year ago he began working  with his parents at PRN. He is now 27 and newly married. Dannan has  the same entrepreneurial mind set as Kearn and Dennis. He has  developed an “in house” moving company to assist clients with moving and  relocating their elderly loved ones. PRN Home Care provides this  additional service for families to make things less stressful. “The Handy  Dandy Moving Service” can handle a move from start to  finish throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Both of Kearn’s daughters attend Alabama A & M University in  Huntsville. They are very involved parents and wouldn’t have it any other way. Jasmine and Denise, are both pro tennis players and enjoy full  scholarships to college. They got a late start in the world of tennis, as most  kids begin serious training at the tender ages of 3 to 6. These young ladies  started at around 10 to 12 years. They began an interest in the sport at the  Hiller Park Tennis Complex in Biloxi. Kearn encouraged the girls to develop  their talent and insisted they work hard to perfect their skills.
They  began private lessons with Steve Garman who is the Tennis Director at  Diamondhead Tennis World and is a USPTA 1 Professional. “We all learned  the game and before we knew it, we were on the road three or four weeks out of  every month so the girls could compete in national and international  tournaments,” Kearn said. Quite often Dennis and Denise would travel by themselves and  Kearn would travel separately with Jasmine so that no one would miss  an opportunity to play in larger tournaments. It proved to be a wonderful way  to have special ”alone time” with each of their daughters. The whole family  would also make the tournament trips which was extra  special for everyone.
Since they got a late start, it was imperative for them  to play at every opportunity,” Kearn said. The family traveled all over the  country and both girls were in high demand. They got calls from coaches, the  very best coaches…the phone never stopped ringing. “Girls need to be in a  sport, particularly tennis, golf, etc. because these sports are wide open and  scholarships are readily available. Push your kids, you won’t regret it, she  added.
Jasmine and Denise are as different as night and day, and have also  have very different styles on the court. They are both honor roll students and  the youngest, Denise, plays the number one spot on the Alabama A&  M Tennis Team. Richard Williams, father to tennis stars Serena and Venus  Williams, has been very supportive of Jasmine and Denise and was  instrumental in the development of their stroke. He  worked with them at  his private residence and offered to do so again in the future. “Being  entrepreneurs has allowed my husband and I to have time to enjoy these very  special and extraordinary moments. It allowed her to be involved in many  charitable organizations and side projects,” Kearn said.
Kearn Cherry thoroughly enjoys working with the American Heart  Association. She is on the Board of Directors of “Go Red” for Women, and has  been taking part in the event for years. Kearn threw her hat into the ring  from day one. She was given the responsibility of chairing the auction items and has been involved ever since. She is also on the Board and  assists with the Heart Ball and the Heart Walk. “I am very impressed with the  Heart Association and I really love what they do,” Kearn said. In 2009, Kearn started to feel unwell. She was putting in very full days  which was not unusual but she felt extremely tired and fatigued. Her legs also  felt strange and heavy, as well as having shortness of breath. “As women we  tend to ignore stuff and just go on with our busy schedules but something was  definitely wrong. My husband said he thought I should go to the hospital but I  didn’t think it was necessary. I did decide to check my symptoms on the Go Red  website and discovered I was textbook for heart problems,” Kearn  said. She went to the hospital and by the time she arrived she was very dizzy  and could hardly breathe at all, her lips were blue and she was in great  distress. After testing, it was determined that Kearn had blood clots, not  just one or two but several located in her lungs. One clot was causing most of  the severe problems which was located between her heart and the lungs in a  main artery. Kearn was referred to specialists at UAB and was diagnosed with  Pulmonary Hypertension. Open heart surgery was indicated after a very strict regimen of  medications. As Kearn prepared for the surgery, she was admitted early for  more testing. It was discovered that her lungs had changed a great deal and  surgery was no longer the best option, that it would probably do more harm  than good. Dennis and Kearn chose not to risk it and felt that the best choice  was to continue with the prescribed meds and leave everything else alone. “I  must give credit to Ocean Springs Singing River hospital for recently opening  a Pulmonary Hypertension clinic – they are the ONLY one on the Coast. This  clinic will save many lives. My advise would be to always get a second opinion  when faced with a catastrophic diagnosis, don’t hesitate to get a referral to  another doctor,” Kearn said.This very busy lady is also the Vice President for the Mental Health  Association Board of Directors. She has chaired the Bachelor/Bachelorette  auction since 2008 and it is always a tremendous success and great fun for  all. Kearn is also a past president of Lighthouse Business and Professional  Women (BPW) and is very involved in the Women of Achievement event since 2006.  She was the Vice President of Membership for the Biloxi Bay Chamber. “The  people with the Bay Chamber are so friendly and so welcoming. It is such a  pleasure to be a part of this fine organization,” Kearn said. She is also on  the Senior Advisory Committee for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and is  one of the creators and founding member of RIPE which is Resource, Information  and Planning for the Elderly. Kearn believes that everyone should volunteer to be of assistance to your  church and also within the community. She loves to do volunteer work and makes  it a point to do everything she can to make a difference. In December, the BPW  raised over $9,100.00. Thirty gift baskets were raffled off and over 100  people attended the event to make it one of the most successful BPW events  ever. In addition, Kearn is one of the creators of the Gulf Coast Senior Prom.  It is a wonderful, highly anticipated, romantic and fun evening for seniors only, at the IP Casino Resort Spa. In 2005, Kearn partnered with her dear friend and business associate,  Vicky Hensley of the Loyalton in Biloxi to form The Senior Healthcare Group.  They were also joined by Alisha Plummer with TLC Home Health of Amedysis.  These women came together to network their services and it benefits all  concerned. They have developed educational seminars, conferences, networking  events and workshops for senior citizens and healthcare professionals.  Kearn Cherry has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years.  She was honored as a featured business owner in the international magazine,  ”Essence” in 2001 as one of the “Comeback Queens.” Essence later featured her  again in a hard cover book that presented female business owners to celebrate  their successes. The article was titled, “Making it Happen – Creating Success  and Abundance.” Kearn Cherry is indeed an asset to the Mississippi Gulf Coast  and GTP is very proud to honor her accomplishments as our Mover and Shaker for  the month of January.
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