Thursday, April 8, 2010 | 2:24 p.m.
Karen Wilkins-Jarvis had always planned to pursue a career in a field related to health care, but in exploring her professional options she tapped into a specialized niche in which she had emerged as a local industry leader and innovator.
Wilkins-Jarvis is president and general manager of AmPro Orthotics & Prosthetics Inc., a Las Vegas-based company that specializes in custom-made orthopedic appliances and artificial limbs. Wilkins-Jarvis originally joined the company as a marketing manager after relocating to Southern Nevada in 2003, and purchased the company from the founder in 2005. A 1989 graduate of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Wilkins-Jarvis launched her career 20 years ago in medical sales and the orthotics/prosthetics industry.
“I wanted to get into a health care field that was not typical, especially for a female, and the O&P industry has always been predominantly male, but it was something I felt I would excel at,” said Wilkins-Jarvis, who founded a spinal bracing company in Cincinnati in 1998 and also managed several orthopedic bracing companies in Cincinnati and Dayton.
Since Wilkins-Jarvis assumed ownership of AmPro in 2005, annual sales and revenue have more than doubled, staff size has doubled to 15 employees, and the company has outgrown its 5,000-square-foot location on South Eastern Avenue, which serves as a fabrication/manufacturing facility and also houses office space for patient visits. This summer, Wilkins-Jarvis plans to move into a new 10,500-square-foot building, also on South Eastern Avenue, which will complement the two additional AmPro locations in northwest Las Vegas and Pahrump.
As for patients who are unable to make it to an office, Wilkins-Jarvis has implemented a program that brings AmPro to the patient. The company’s mobile unit – a specially outfitted van that doubles as a small lab – makes house calls, and distance is no deterrent.
“We have patients not only from the Las Vegas area, but from Boulder City, Mesquite, Laughlin, St. George and Lake Havasu, and we have decided that if we have multiple patients in the same area, we schedule them on the same day and bring the lab to them,” Wilkins-Jarvis said. “Our patients are not people we just see once or twice – we look at it like providing a lifetime of care as their prosthetics need adjustments over their life, and we take that very seriously.”
Wilkins-Jarvis is board certified as an American Board for Certification (ABC) and Board for Orthotic Certification (BOC) orthotic and mastectomy fitter, and all AmPro practitioners are also board-certified.
Another distinction for the company?
“Every prosthetist who is employed here is also an amputee,” Wilkins-Jarvis said. “In fact, a third of my staff is amputees, which has been a big asset to the company. The patient feels more comfortable knowing that the person taking care of them is also wearing a prosthetic.”