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Alleviant Health Looking to Hire as It Expands

3 min read

Brian Mears wanted to start a business that would fix people.

About three years ago, the nurse anesthetist opened Alleviant Health Centers in Little Rock to offer mental health services. But unlike traditional mental health clinics, Alleviant uses a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors working together to improve a patient’s health.

“Our niche is integrative holistic behavioral health,” said Mears, Alleviant’s president and CEO. “We understand that the connection between the mind, the body and the spirit is real.”

The future of health care is integrative medicine, he said, putting the focus on treating the root causes of disease.

The business model seems to be working. Alleviant Health Centers has grown to about 50 employees in Little Rock, and about 50 in clinics in California, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee. By year’s end, it will have a clinic in Conway, another in northwest Arkansas and a third in Aurora, Colorado.

The company is spending $8.3 million to renovate 30,000 SF of leased space at the Premier Medical Plaza at 10901 N. Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock. Alleviant expects to open that site Feb. 1 and to hire 115 employees in 18 months.

The space will also feature a “full-service educational restaurant,” Mears said. The chefs “are educators who will take individualized health care plans from our physicians and our nutritionists and create things for people that they actually like,” Mears said. “They can learn to cook foods that are, in essence, medicine.”

The expansion has qualified for a city of Little Rock program that provides state and local sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery and equipment to businesses investing at least $100,000 and creating jobs. The project also qualified for Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s incentives programs: Tax Back, for sales and use tax refund for eligible expenditures, and Advantage Arkansas, which provides a state income tax credit of 1% of total payroll. The incentives, however, apply to eligible activities and employees who perform corporate functions.

A Focus on ‘Real Health’

Alleviant’s two clinics in Little Rock see about 500 patient visits a week. Nearly all of the patients are referred to the clinic. Mears said the clinic guarantees that it will see a patient referred to it within seven days of the referral, “in an industry that frequently has a two- to six-month wait time.”

He said Alleviant can make that guarantee because it has several people waiting to be hired. “And then once our referral volumes are high enough that we can fill up their schedule, we hire.”

Mears declined to reveal revenue figures, but said Alleviant accepts all major health insurance.

Alleviant also spends more time with patients than do traditional mental health care clinics, a feature that is attractive to potential employees. “We’re giving people, I think, what they ultimately got into health care for, … the ability to focus on real health,” he said.

During the pandemic, Alleviant has seen a rise in the need for services for mood disorders related to fear, Mears said. “Fear is worse probably now than at any point in our country’s history, for lots of reasons — financial worries, pandemic worries, societal worries with all the problems that are happening,” he said.

Alleviant has relied on telebehavioral health services, Mears said. Before the coronavirus pandemic, 8% of Alleviant’s appointments were handled electronically. A month after the virus hit, nearly 75% of the patient visits were electronic.

Getting Started

Mears, 44 and a Little Rock native, graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and spent 23 years in the military. He also had been a registered nurse.

While living in Florida, he and his wife in 2012 adopted seven children. The family then moved to Little Rock to be closer to relatives.

“Some of the kids had some issues,” he said. “So that introduced us into mental health, and I think that changed our entire life.”

He said he learned that appointments to see therapists and psychiatrists were often scheduled months out. “That led me to just dig in,” Mears said. “I got involved in research and literature and I learned about this industry.”

In August 2017 he opened his first Alleviant clinic. “And now things are going great,” Mears said.

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