AHOD Monique Flemings

Vincent Pierce smiles after he signs housing paperwork and gets applause from Monique Flemings. She runs AHOD Services, which transitions people on Medicaid out of nursing homes and back into the community. They were signing papers with Sara Callender of The Independence Center this week. Pierce, 54, had been living in a nursing home for a year but is ready to be out on his own.

The name for her business — AHOD Services — came to Monique Flemings in a dream.

AHOD stands for “all hands on deck.” While that phrase has a naval origin, it’s one that Flemings used to hear when she worked in call centers.

“When calls spiked, they would call it AHOD. No one gets to take a break or lunch.”

AHOD Services takes an “all hands on deck” approach to its mission of transitioning Medicaid members out of nursing homes and into the community. That mission is made possible by Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person program, which was designed to reduce institution-based services in favor of home and community-based services.

AHOD, which also offers life skills training, crafts a risk mitigation plan (looking at what put a client in a nursing home to begin with and whether those risks could surface again), a community transition plan and a discharge plan. AHOD’s staff also helps clients find housing and secure a Section 8 housing voucher, provides some household furnishings with the help of a small Medicaid fund dedicated to that purpose, and coordinates services in the community.

AHOD fulfills a goal that Flemings set years ago to become her own boss; she had worked as a transition coordinator for a similar agency. But the path to her business wasn’t an easy one. A single mom with an adult daughter and two sons, ages 12 and 10, she was living in Denver but could no longer afford the rents there. She moved with her sons to Colorado Springs in 2017 to live with her mother, who helped Flemings start AHOD.

“It took me almost a year to become an approved provider,” Flemings says. “That process alone is very daunting, very discouraging. You have to make a decision that if you’re going to become a Medicaid provider, you’re going to do a lot of the work without getting paid right away. Then it was even harder because I didn’t have any money or any credit, so finding funding was an uphill battle.” She did get help, though, from Accion, a nonprofit community lender that provided startup funding.

She also got key training through the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center, going through an eight-week business planning and development course.

“Without the SBDC, I would have been lost,” she says. She also gained valuable contacts through the course.

”I ended up purchasing the accounting software from one of the presenters at class, which is working out phenomenally,” Flemings says.

Business these days is brisk, she says — “a good problem to have.” She has two full-time and two part-time employees.

“We are still kind of in the infancy of development in terms of our infrastructure, and we are actually hiring now,” Flemings says.

There is no typical day for her. Her duties range from meeting a client for the first time and assessing their situation to getting the home setting ready in the final stages of the process.

“I feel like I’m over moving furniture,” she says. “That’s the next piece I’m hiring. I’m not moving another couch.”

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