Sofia Koshevatsky Interview

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Your journey in the healthcare industry seems incredibly fulfilling. How has your passion for patient care influenced your relationships with your own family and loved ones?

My journey through healthcare has not been an easy one, but extremely fulfilling. My company, HealthFlex, was born at our kitchen table where we decided as a family to change the way healthcare was provided inside the home. My nursing degree, community involvement, and my mother’s extensive experience in the home healthcare field helped to bring it all together. Fast forward 11 years, we are now one of the leading privately owned home healthcare providers in California, with the honor of serving over 100,000 patients and their families across northern California. Working with family has definitely been challenging in many ways, but has brought us closer than ever. The best part about having a family business is that we’re all working towards one goal of bettering the community, fulfilling our purpose, and striving to create the lives we wanted for ourselves while always keeping each other in mind. When you’re building a business together with your family, there seems to be more pressure than ever. Taking sick days is not an option, and always working harder to achieve and impress the ones we love.

Tell us about your family? Can you share how your family has supported you throughout your career endeavors?

My mother has always been my number one cheerleader. She’s always helped me strive for the best and has pushed me way beyond my dreams. She has been my number one supporter and the best guidance that I have ever asked for. When moving to this country from Ukraine, we came here with practically nothing. My mother has guided me through example.

She was a single mother working dayshift and night shift to make ends meet and still always made time for me and my sister. My husband, Alex, has held my hand through any challenging times and has dug me out of more holes than imaginable. He is the one person that has believed in me the most. He always knew that no matter what I did, I would be able to achieve high success and greatness.

He knew my destiny before I even realized it. To this day, my company, HealthFlex, prides itself on award-winning care and has received multiple honors such as the Torch Award for Ethics from the BBB, Home Care Elite Top 100 Agencies in the Nation, and Best Places to Work Regional as well as National.

Behind every success, there are often hurdles to overcome. Can you recall a particularly tough
moment in your career and how you turned it into a triumph?

Beginning my journey in the home health industry as a young, female CEO, I constantly faced the challenge of being seen as the underdog. Overcoming entrenched biases and earning genuine respect required perseverance and knowledge. I was unwavering in my commitment to demonstrate that HealthFlex could revolutionize home healthcare delivery. I was determined to
bring a younger and fresher perspective in an industry that hadn’t changed for over 20 years.

Despite numerous rejections, I persisted and kept pushing. The pivotal moment came when the law of Medicare finally changed, and hospitals were getting penalized for re-admissions. That’s when they finally realized I was on to something. I was able to move forward, secure pivotal meetings at all prominent Bay Area Hospitals and beyond. This breakthrough marked a turning point, affirming my company’s bright future.

The rest was up to us—keeping up with quality initiatives, programs, and certifications on point. Most importantly was to grow my team, set them up for success, and instill the confidence and inspire them to believe in our mission as an organization, which I continue to do.

Your dedication to improving healthcare is evident, but on a personal note: what hobbies or leisure activities do you indulge in when you’re not immersed in your professional pursuits?

So glad you asked, because recharging is just as important as working hard. We love family trips! It’s one of our most cherished activities as a family. We are expert travelers and are always looking forward to the next trip. We have mastered the art of leaving our worries behind while on holiday, enjoying quality time together, and unplugging from work and our daily responsibilities. We all have a new sense of appreciation for one another and feel refreshed to take on the next set of challenges when we are back. We take a big annual trip to Mexico as one of our favorite spring destinations. Another favorite place is Hawaii. It’s our “before school starts” trip. Such a classic, family-oriented destination with plenty of pool time before the fall season starts! As the kids get older, we will begin exploring other destinations and creating new memories with each other. Alex and I also make sure to take at least one trip – just the two of us – to a new destination every year, whether it’s Italy or Bora Bora. We love exploring new places, new foods, and other cultures together. When things get hectic and busy at home, our family always has that planned trip to look forward to some fun-filled quality time.

Balancing a demanding career with personal interests can be tricky. How do you ensure you make time for the things you love outside of work?

The best part right now in my company is that I was able to build it to a point where I can be hands-off of the nitty-gritty paperwork and that startup stress. Setting my team up for success is one of my greatest achievements. Making people believe in themselves has brought free time to myself but a world of confidence to my team members.

They are able to think for themselves, make rational decisions, and take on challenges as they arise. This helped to free up my time to be able to fulfill one of my passions in life, and that’s educating the community about home healthcare and helping families find resources for more support. I was finally able to start my Instagram educational CBO page, which is the first of its kind on social media, educating families on risks, rewards, and helping to navigate this complicated healthcare system. I’m also fortunate to sit on multiple boards and collaborate with other healthcare and community leaders in an effort to improve population health. Knowledge is power, and I’m happy to bring my experiences to the table. On a personal note, I truly find joy in organizing our community and family events. It excites me to bring people together, make memories, and have everyone enjoy themselves. I love creating tablescapes for Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

I love putting on extravagant birthday parties, brunches, and other fun events where everyone has a great time. And I love receiving invitations to other wonderful events in our community to mingle and learn about other people.

Amidst your busy schedule, do you have a dream destination or travel experience that’s been on your bucket list for some time?

The next destination will be either Japan or the Amalfi coast. Two totally different experiences but both noteworthy in their culture, food, people, and growth. Japan truly mesmerizes me; it’s the perfect blend of tradition and modernity. It’s captivating on another level. The vibrant cities, serene temples are what really draw my attention, but breathtaking landscapes cannot be overlooked. I can’t wait to immerse myself in rich culture, delicious cuisine, and witness the seamless fusion of ancient customs with cutting-edge technology all at the same time.

Japan promises a truly unforgettable journey waiting to be explored. On another spectrum, the Amalfi Coast enchants me. With dramatic cliffs, charming villages, and azure waters, creating a picturesque paradise on the Italian coast for me to relax, revitalize and reminisce on life.

I want to savor it all—the exquisite cuisine, Mediterranean flair, and the perfect aperol spritz. It’s a journey filled with beauty and romance,something that I can’t get enough of.

Can you share any memorable travel experiences that have inspired you or influenced your perspective on life and leadership?

There are so many wonderful experiences we’ve had as a family. But looking back, the most impactful and memorable wasn’t necessarily the one filled with rainbows and butterflies. During our trip to Maui last year, we were caught in the devastating Maui fires. Witnessing such a traumatic event and not knowing what’s going to happen next was a complete shock.

As our dream Hawaiian vacation was coming to an end, just as we had gotten enough sun and family time, all our power goes out on the west side of the island in our hotel. We had no internet, no TV, no connection, and an announcement comes in that all flights are canceled and the hotel will be on lockdown as they try to clear the main road of power lines. This was the first time we had been put in a position of survival mode and were looking for a way to get off the island before the fires get worse or before food runs out from the hotel. My husband and I began talking to the locals and searching for internet. If we were in distress, we could not imagine what
the locals were going through. We were feeling blessed nonetheless that we had a home to go back to, unlike some of the Lahiana residents.

Our hearts and prayers went out to the families, and our company started a relief fund. It was the first time our children had experienced such a situation. When we finally got home, I reflected back on this somewhat traumatic experience. I believe it made me a stronger leader because it cultivated empathy, resilience, and a deeper understanding of human struggles. It influenced my perspective on life and leadership. By overcoming this challenge, I developed strength, compassion, and the ability to navigate adversity with grace.

This experience shaped my approach as a leader by instilling humility, determination, and a profound appreciation for the complexities of life, fostering more empathetic and effective leadership. You never know what’s going on in people’s lives, and having a deep understanding of that will help you become a great leader.

Your career trajectory is inspiring, but we’re intrigued by the person behind the professional achievements. How do you maintain harmony between your work life and personal life?

I’m going to let my audience know exactly how it is. There is rarely work-life balance when it comes to your own business, especially when you work with family. Everyone de- pends on you; you have no choice but to succeed. Success comes at a price, and if you’re willing to pay it, then you can reap the benefits. My husband and I always bring our work home; it’s a topic of conversation at every dinner. Late-night conversations are based around process changes and sharing our latest podcast listens. Even our children have taken notice and have started chiming in once in a while. So no, there is no work-life balance when your business is your life and love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In a fast-paced industry like healthcare, finding balance can be challenging. Can you share any rituals or practices you’ve adopted to prioritize self-care and relaxation?

I’ve taken self-care to a whole new level. I prioritize myself, my mental and physical health first and foremost. I am useless to my family and the community if I don’t have my health. The first thing I do in the morning is Barry’s workout, preferably around 6 or 7 a.m. This ensures I can focus on myself without any text messages or distractions. I take my beauty appointments religiously; if you look great, you feel great! I always want to be at my best this way I can promote wellness and practice what I preach. This is also a valuable example I’m setting for my children and other aspiring ladies in business that your physical appearance is as important as maintaining your inner health.

Your commitment to home health and hospice care is commendable. What motivated you to raise awareness about this important aspect of healthcare, and how do you engage others in the conversation?

My childhood and upbringing instilled in me a deep sense of responsibility towards caring for the elderly. Witnessing my grandmother’s challenges in accessing adequate care, and observing my mother’s unwavering support, left a permanent mark on me. This experience fueled my passion, guiding me towards a career in nursing where I felt a profound calling. I engage others on a regular basis, not only inside the organization but on a larger scale with social media and public speaking. I like to cover topics like starting the home health conversation with loved ones, fall prevention in the home, who needs home health care, what to expect with our care, navigating the healthcare systems.

I help families to be educated and prepared so that they can make educated decisions for themselves and for their families, instead of having a person they just met in the hospital make it for them. I want to empower my audience to think for themselves, make the best possible choices, and most importantly be prepared for anything that comes their way. When a family member lands in the hospital for any reason, it can be a distressing situation. My goal is to make sure you have the tools to take the next steps confidently and be able to help your loved one recover quicker without delays or hiccups.

Education is key to fostering understanding and support for home health initiatives.

How do you approach educating others about the val- ue of home-based care, and what impact do you hope to make through your efforts?

To spread awareness, I actively engage with my community, forging connections with healthcare professionals by offering educational sessions. Additionally, I’ve taken to social media, establishing a dedicated platform to inform the public about their home health and hospice options. By fostering dialogue and disseminating knowledge, I aim to empower individuals and families to make informed decisions regarding their loved ones’ care.

Your involvement in the community is noteworthy.
Can you share a memorable experience from your community outreach efforts and the impact it had on you or those you served?

One particularly impactful community outreach endeavor that remains vivid in my memory is when our team got together to provide meals and vital supplies to nurses & patients during the peak of the 2020 pandemic. This initiative not only symbolized our commitment to aiding frontline heroes but also served as a reminder of the resilience within our community during times of adversity. This movement also helped patients get the food they need when all other resources were scarce, and caregiving, other family members weren’t coming to see them. It was truly an honor to contribute to the well-being and support of those tirelessly working to safeguard public health. It was our duty to be there for the patients in such a time of need.

In your opinion, what are the key principles or strategies that CEOs should prioritize to drive innovation and excellence in patient care?

As a CEO driving excellence in patient care and inspiring my team on a daily basis are my main priorities. The mission buy-in is the single more important thing a CEO must do to achieve harmony and produce goal-oriented employees. If your team believes in the mission they will come to work with a purpose every day with a goal to help as many people as possible. Another
important strategy I implement is transparency, patient feedback, and staff empowerment. This allows us to improve on a regular basis and helps our executive team manage to their highest potential.