While working at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, University of New Orleans alumna Lana Joseph-Ford realized two things that sent her down an entrepreneurial path in the healthcare industry: The 15-minute time allotted to care for each of her young patients was too short and the waiting list for hearing services was too long.
“There were so many patients that needed speech therapy and hearing services, but there was such a long waiting list,” said Joseph-Ford, who has a doctorate in audiology from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She earned a master’s in healthcare management from UNO with an emphasis in public health in 2011.
“The waiting list at that time was six months for hearing aids and for speech therapy, it was almost a year and a half … I knew immediately that there was an opportunity there for me to help these kids, for me to open opportunities so that they can get the service they needed.”
Joseph-Ford also felt a kinship with her patients. As a child, she struggled with a hearing and a speech impediment that was not addressed until she was 12.
That experience was the impetus for her wanting to become an audiologist, said Joseph-Ford, who grew up in Marrero and Belle Rose, Louisiana.
“When I was in high school, I wanted to learn how to do sign language to help other people with hearing impairment,” she said. “I was also interested in becoming a doctor, so I told myself it would be ‘awesome if I could be a doctor for the hearing impaired.’ That was even before I knew that the career of an audiologist even existed.”
In 2016, Joseph-Ford founded High Level Speech and Hearing Center in New Orleans, where she assists children and adults with hearing and balance issues.
“The field is far broader than people think because not only am I providing solutions for hearing loss and hearing tests, but I am also providing preventative care as well as educating people on how we can prevent (hearing loss).”
Joseph-Ford also collaborates with local schools to conduct tests to detect hearing and speech impairments.
“Right now we are in over 23 parishes across the state of Louisiana,” Joseph-Ford said. “We are in over 100 daycares and over 70 schools. We are really making a huge impact in the community.”
Joseph-Ford, who has been recognized in the business community with awards such as JEDCO’s 2020 Business of the Year and Biz New Orleans’ 2018 Business Person of the Year, has expanded her healthcare brand with vlogs, podcasts and a news segment called “Healthy Habits with Dr. J,” which airs on WWL-TV’s Great Day Louisiana on Friday mornings.
Joseph-Ford has also created another company called JRUMZ Ear Wear, a high-performance earphone that she says will help mitigate hearing loss over time.
“My UNO degree was helpful because it provided me with the fundamentals I need in order to understand administrative policies and procedures,” Joseph-Ford said. “And it really prepared me to be able to be a CEO of a healthcare company. When it came to … understanding the different laws and acts that govern how we deliver care and understanding inequality in health care.”
While her business ventures are producing fruit, Joseph-Ford says she still understands the difficulties and hurdles faced by novice entrepreneurs, especially Black women.
“As a woman who has endured my fair share of adversity in business, I am a firm believer that Black women are capable of starting and scaling successful businesses,” she said. “We may encounter obstacles, but with the right amount of passion, hard work, determination and drive, nothing is impossible.
“Understand your metrics. Set your goals and achieve them,” Joseph-Ford said. “Lastly, remember, ‘No,’ means ‘Not right now.’”
Editor’s note: If you know a UNO grad who is doing interesting things, send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “Alumni Spotlight.”