2018 Business Leaders of the Year | Healthcare
Olive Gaye recalls her relationship with a former mentor and how it eventually led her to change her career and her life — and, ultimately, the lives of others.
“She was poised and sophisticated, and we shared a passion for tea and fine china. She was an older woman, my friend and mentor, and we spent many evenings sharing tea and scones as she reminisced about her travels through Europe with her late husband.
“Fast-forward a few years,” says the founder and president of GenCare Resources Home Healthcare, “and I had unfortunately lost touch with her. When I finally went back to visit, my friend was relying on home care to maintain her independence rather than moving to a facility. I always knew she didn’t want to end her life in an institution, but I did not think she was receiving the care befitting someone of her dignity, sophistication and indominable spirit. The experience of seeing my friend receive substandard home care was not the only concept that gave birth to GenCare, but it still influences the company’s culture.”
It’s clear the core of Gaye’s mission is and always has been compassion. Whether with her clients, her staff or her community, her respect for others is rooted in an understanding of people and their individuality — that they are their stories and their experiences, their passions and their spirit. They are not their illnesses. And it has led her to create a community and a culture within GenCare that she hopes will only grow.
Watching her mentor’s experience inspired Gaye to give up her job as a human resources executive with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority in 2013 to form a healthcare company. Armed with a master’s degree from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, encouragement from her husband, faith and a study of the industry, Gaye decided to turn her passion for helping others into a sustainable business.
“I studied the market and did my research,” Gaye says. “I thought at first I was just going to help the elderly at home — take them to the doctor, remind them to take medication. Very quickly I realized that by the time people are at that stage, they need so much more, so I applied for my home healthcare license, which would allow me to provide care on a broader level.”
Now, just six years later, Gaye finds herself leading a staff of more than 70 nurses, with segments in home healthcare, medical staffing for institutions, and both skilled and non-skilled care.
Healthcare professionals see people at their most vulnerable, and Gaye is determined to ensure those professionals understand exactly how much difference they can make, even as federal and state changes make their industry challenging.
Gaye works to assure her team members how much they are valued. “Everyone wants to feel their contribution makes a difference, that they’re appreciated and that they are contributing to a greater good and are part of a team.”
Gaye’s passion for people comes from the way she was raised. “My parents always inspired me to help others,” she says. “I’ve never seen my mother make dinner and not have enough left over for a neighbor, even though she had many mouths to feed. There was always something for someone else. I know we all make a difference — it could be good and it could be bad. As a leader, I have the opportunity to make a positive difference. Our core value is respect for every person.”
Gaye has an unwavering vision for the future of home healthcare: “One day, we’re all going to get to the place where we need help. I just pray we all get the kind of help we need. When ill people need help, you give it to them in a respectful, dignified manner, because one day you may be the one in that position. None of us is invincible. We are all human.”