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Lindsey Fontenot is a Regional Operations Director at Community Care Partners (CCP). Her Everyday Hero journey started with her childhood dream of becoming a nurse. She now oversees 36 urgent care clinics across the state of Louisiana. Underlying her success is the drive of a mom with a special needs child.

Community Care Partners represents a network of urgent care and primary care clinics. CCP has locations in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and Louisiana.

Transcript

Introduction

Lindsey Fontenot: It's the simple things in life and it, it's so cliche, but it's really about treating people how you wanna be treated and leaving people better than you found them. If we've left them better than we found them then we have done what we've been called to do and you know, the same motto was when I was at the bedside of a patient and nursing a patient or their family, either home or in oncology nursing we did a lot of hospice care.


And it's how do you get that family to be at peace with decisions that a physician is making or deliver that care that is truly personal. And then I've continued that into leadership with the same motto of, it doesn't matter if it's a patient or a family, whoever is standing in front of me should be treated just like I would want to be treated.


And they should walk out of my office or hang up the phone better than when we started. And if I don't do that, then I am not fulfilling a mission that I should be fulfilling.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight.


With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows. We want to hear their stories. We want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.


In this episode, I talk with Lindsey Fontenot, a Regional Operations Director with Community Care Partners. Will you just tell us a little bit about yourself?

Lindsey Fontenot:  Sure. So I was actually born in a small town called DeRidder, Louisiana. I moved to New Orleans when I was four, due to some switch up in my parents' job roles. And so when I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse since I was in the second grade, and I got accepted to the University of Louisiana Lafayette Nursing School in 2003.

 

And so at that point I decided to jump to Lafayette, Louisiana, which is where I've been. When I graduated nursing school, I took an internship role at a hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana, so I relocated about two hours from home.

 

At that point, I fell in love with my husband, who's been my husband for 11 years, named Jason.

 

We have two beautiful children. Aiden is eight and Abigail is two fixing to be three, acts like she's 13. Obviously motherhood is what takes up a lot of my free time, if you will, especially Aiden has down syndrome. So being the mother of a special needs child also takes a lot of my time and attention, even when I'm away from work.

 

So a lot of appointments, therapy sessions, that type of thing, which is what I love to do and which is why I think I'm placed on this earth is to just leave an impact in his life. So lots going on at work and at home.

Continued Growth

Anderson Williams: To say Lindsey has a lot going on is an understatement, but having a lot going on hasn't deterred her from continuing to grow and to seek new opportunities.
 

If anything, it seems to have inspired Lindsey to achieve more. To grow more and to positively impact even more people.
 

And how long have you been at Community Care Partners?

Lindsey Fontenot: I started in March of 2018. When I first joined, we were SouthStar Urgent Care, so we had three locations. The founder was Clayt Hulin and his wife Suzette.

 

And so I was hired as the first operational leader with only three locations to really focus on growth. We had already partnered with Shore Capital at the end of 2017, and so when I joined, we knew growth was at the forefront of what we were going to do.

Anderson Williams: What drew you to that idea of growth and the private equity backing? Remind me how many hospitals you have now.

Lindsey Fontenot:  Yeah, so we have 36 clinics in the state of Louisiana, so have really taken off. When I first started, I helped with our de novo process, which is opening of new clinics, and so we did three my first year, and then in 2019 we did 11, and then following 2020 we did six, and then in 2021 we did six.

 

And in 2022 we acquired five and then just opened our 36th clinic last month.

Anderson Williams: And how has that then changed from your role, your sense of opportunity, your personal growth to go from starting with three and going to 36?

Lindsey Fontenot: I knew when I started, when Clayt and I had many conversations about the partnership with Shore, a lot of opportunity, and the main reason that Clay partnered with Shore Capital was that there was an appreciation there for the culture and for the people.


And we knew that in order to affect more people's lives, we had to open more clinics and create more job opportunity and give great community service and clinical care to the communities we were gonna serve. So that was the first initial thing that really attracted me to the company. I knew going into nursing school, I always loved to serve and impact others.


That's why I do what I do. And so caring for other people has always been what's drawn me to the nursing side of things. When I first started nursing, there was so much that I loved about being at the patient bedside, right? You can see the return on investment. You can absolutely see the impact that you're leaving every day.


And I quickly realized reporting to several different leaders that there was definitely a piece missing. Very few people understand that if you don't take care of the people in charge, they won't take care of the patients. So five years into my nursing career, I got into nursing management and leadership.


So my first venture was I ran a 29 bed Med-Surg unit for a hospital. And then about two years in, I was approached by the CEO of the hospital to work with our orthopedic physicians and do a joint venture project to open another 20 bed ortho spine unit. And so when I got out of nursing leadership in the hospital setting, I was running both of those inpatient units for a total of like 40 beds, if you will.


And so I had some leadership under my belt, but not multi-site leadership. So Shore and Clayt were generous to give me a chance to grow in that area as well.

Anderson Williams:  Listening to Lindsey describe her career trajectory and her sense of purpose, it couldn't have felt like much of a risk to bring her into a multi-site leadership opportunity.

 

And if there were any risk, the reward has far outweighed it. I asked Soni Punales, the Vice President of Operations for Community Care Partners to share her perspective on Lindsey's leadership.

 

Not surprisingly, she quickly returned to the Golden Rule and the way Lindsey's commitment to it has built both the team and the organization.

The Golden Rule

Soni Punales: She has the initiative. She gets it done all while educating associates on the Golden Rule. It's all do unto others as you would have them doing unto you. And she's excellent. She's about strive to be better than the day before. Grow yourself as you grow others. Be fearless when needing to stand alone, have courage and conviction, which this really does differentiate her in my eyes.
 

We are faced constantly with very tough decisions and she just goes it head on and she has compassion to listen to others, to the needs of others. And she demonstrates these values with every brush she takes, whether you're with her in a visit or a zoom call, which you probably experienced, right, at dinner, it, it doesn't matter.
 

She doesn't deviate from these values and that energy is not only contagious. It has the added benefit of building a very capable team that is driven. We've got a bench that, I will toot her horn. It's enviable.

Anderson Williams: Given what Soni shared about Lindsey's philosophy and impact, I wanted Lindsey to add some depth and understanding to how she's done it and how SouthStar and Community Care Partners have embraced it.


How do you scale the Golden Rule? That seems so easy and it seems so elemental, and yet, let's be honest, most places can't or don't. It seems much easier said than done, and it's pretty clear that CCP has a pretty profound culture around service and caring for its people, and its patients.


Just say a little bit more about that, because I don't think it's typical that you've found not only the kind of professional growth, but that has simultaneously sort of grown your impact and your purpose and so forth.

Lindsey Fontenot: I would say it all starts from the beginning conversations, right? It all starts with expectations. Accountability and expectations is what really starts the foundation. So from the moment a team member enters into our organization, whether it be the very first phone call they have with a recruiter,
or it's a working interview in our clinics, they are hearing it and seeing it repeated over and over.


As a leader, it's most important that I actually walk the walk and don't just talk the talk. So eyes are constantly on all of us because it's not about a position, it's about us leading other people. And whether we just touch their life in one way or it is a position, but the impact that we leave is so important.


So I think modeling the behavior and being sure that every time someone interacts with us as part of this organization, they truly feel what we say is the truth. And then I say even more than that is that we continue to strive to not let the bad apples in, and when we get them in, we do what we need to do to either promote them up or promote them out, and not in a bad way, just those of us to your point, Anderson, it's an environment like no other, and very few companies have it.


And once we're in it and you get hired into it because of the way it makes you feel, you're forever indebted to not let it in. Because once you let that negativity in, you can't get it back out.

Stop and Listen

Anderson Williams: I'm curious, given that you came to SouthStar early, you saw the growth opportunity, you know you were looking to scale impact.

 

I can't imagine, and maybe I'm wrong, you could have imagined it would scale to 36, not only scale to 36 clinics, but you would still be speaking sort of the gospel of the Golden Rule. What have you learned in that growth about your work, yourself? What have you learned in that process?

Lindsey Fontenot:  A lot about myself.

 

I will say that probably one of my biggest lessons is as an operator and even as a nurse, my job or what I thought was my job was to always to go fix things, make a process better, help a patient come out of pain, whatever the greater cause was. I was always trying to fix it. And as I've continued to grow as a person, I have quickly realized that I have to stop and listen because oftentimes I'm not the one with the answer to fix it.

 

It's someone doing it every day at the front line who's got the answer. I just have to pause for enough time to hear it and to listen to them. I would also have told myself, if it was four years ago, that surround yourself and it's so important that everyone in the room is smarter than you are, and there's nothing that I know that I should not share.


And so I think it's really about humbling ourselves as leaders to know that we don't always have the answer. In fact, most of the times we don't, but we have to know who to call on that probably does. And nine times outta ten, it's someone in our charge who is doing it every day that has the answer.

Anderson Williams:  Where did you learn that sense of humility?

Lindsey Fontenot: I think it's been through several situations throughout my entire life, and my faith steers me in many of the decisions that I make every day. I have to lay my head down at night knowing that I'm serving a greater mission and that God has ultimately put me here for a purpose.


I would say probably my most humbling experience in my personal life has been having Aiden and really walking the life of a special needs mom and really understanding that he's going to need things differently. And it's not exactly how I thought it was going to be. And that's okay. It's exactly how it should be. And so I think the same goes for work and professional life.


What I think I'm walking into one day or walking into a clinic to see I, I'm not going to see what I expected to see and how do I pivot and understand that it's okay, it's not going to be perfect, and I have to be okay with lack of perfection, but I don't have to lower my standards or my expectations. And then just to continue to strive to be the best version of myself.

The Right Parent

Anderson Williams: And I'm curious, and Aiden is eight. In the eight years you've had Aiden, how you might have changed your approach or thinking about work and maybe how that time work has helped you think through how to be the right parent for Aiden.

Lindsey Fontenot: That's a heavy one. I will tell you probably first and foremost, I would be doing a disservice if I didn't give credit where credit is due. I could not do it every day without my husband. You know, he has been super supportive in knowing that my professional life is very important to me, but ultimately my family and my personal life is the top priority.

And so I definitely could not do it without him, and I have had to understand that just, as I mentioned earlier, with pivoting and flexibility, some days my days don't look like eight to five in an office. It may be eight to 12, and I take Aiden into a doctor's appointment, and I come back to the office and work one to six, and then I pick up the laptop in the evenings from eight to 10 to finish whatever I didn't finish.


And so I think through it all, Anderson, I've really tried to focus that my kids understand that my professional life has allowed us to live a certain life and it's done great things for us, and I live for them. I don't live for my professional life. And they have to know that as important as it is and as much, I mean, they proudly walk around in their SouthStar T-shirts.


They know exactly where Mama works and we're proud of that. And they also know that hopefully they'll always be able to say, mom was always there and loved us unconditionally and through it all, despite work being such a heavy lift.

Anderson Williams: At this point, it's unclear if Lindsey's clarity has bred her tenacity or if her tenacity has bred her clarity.


I guess it doesn't really matter. She speaks and thinks and acts with a precision that is incredibly inspiring and clearly has had a positive impact on the people around her and the work they're accomplishing together. Here again is Soni.

Soni Punales: I'll tell you what, she's grown me. Here's the thing, Lindsey, very outspoken personality, and I'll tell you, she, what I love about her, again, many things is she's not afraid to challenge the status quo.


And whenever we've got introductions of new different projects and strategies, you know that of course they always come with the best of intentions. She will pick it apart, but not just for the sake of being contrary. But to understand how does this benefit everyone mutually?

The Leadership Model

Anderson Williams:  How does this benefit everyone mutually?


This is really the question that drives Lindsey's work, that operationalizes the Golden Rule. Earlier in our conversation, Lindsey had used the word model when she talked about the Golden Rule, so I wanted her to come back and talk more about that and about her approach to leadership.

And you mentioned a word earlier that I think is important. You mentioned the word model as you talked about your leadership, and so is modeling that toolkit sort of step one, or how do you think about that as you're imparting that kind of knowledge or wisdom onto many layers of people across 36 sites?


How do you think about your leadership in that sense?

Lindsey Fontenot: Yeah, I think modeling is a great word for it.

 

I think modeling in all aspects, not only modeling our best days, right, but also modeling to our teams that as leaders, we don't always have the best days. There are times and places to be vulnerable and for someone else to know, you know what? I struggled through that decision, or that decision was not the best decision and we've got to do something different and I'm sorry for that.

 

I think absolutely the team has to understand that I'm going to model the good and unfortunately the bad some days. And that too is okay because we are human and no one's expected to be perfect. And I think that if they see that, they know that you're the truer version of yourself and you're not trying to be someone you're not meant to be.

 

And that you're faking through it.

Anderson Williams: I could have asked a hundred more questions and just listened to Lindsey talk about leadership. She's got so much hard won wisdom there. But before wrapping up, I just asked her what she's most proud of in her journey.


And along this journey either thinking through, and they might not be separable, that career growth and that parenting growth and that personal growth.


What of that are you most proud of as you look at the last four years?

Lindsey Fontenot:  This is a hard question. I don't know that there's anything substantial enough to really say, man, I can hang my hat on that. I would say keeping my faith in a very grounded place has been super helpful. I would say probably being able to see the life accomplishments of my children that I, especially for Aiden, that I didn't know if we would ever get to, and we are getting to see those things.


I would say in my professional life has probably been honestly just personal maturity of just realizing that, you know what, Lindsey, you're not always right.

You've gotta humble yourself. You truly have to listen to other people and then just lead it through your heart.

Anderson Williams:  Lindsey Fontenot is an everyday hero whose superpower is the Golden Rule.


Treating others like you want to be treated is simple to say, but very hard to do every day. It's harder still building a team and an organization that's bought into the same principle, and yet that's just what Lindsey and the team at SouthStar and Community Care Partners is doing.


This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.


Special thanks to Lindsey Fontenot and Soni Punales.


This podcast is the property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the terms of use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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