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Getting a new administrator

May 16, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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After months of corporate interim administrators, a new administrator arrived about three weeks ago. I learned of her arrival when she came into my room to introduce herself.

In the 14 years plus that I have been here there have been too many administrators to count. The longest any stayed was three years. In the past few years, the administrators were only here 12 to 15 months.

Some administrators were out and about and very involved with the residents. Others were more reserved and stayed closer to the front office. When a new administrator arrives, we residents have no idea which type of person we will have. But the new administrator has a big job to learn the residents' names, their situations, and their involvement with family members.

Some administrators have spent many evenings and weekend hours here. Others were long gone by 5:30 p.m. I have seen administrators pull weeds, spread mulch, trim bushes, and serve as chief hot dog and hamburger flipper at facility cookouts. One administrator referred to himself as a ‘hammer jock.’ I would see him painting and repairing things around here whether we had a maintenance man or not. He sincerely wanted to improve the facility inside and out. Many improvements really needed to be done. But he told me the cost involved caused the corporate office to frequently turn him down.

Some administrators amazed me with their ability to get to know the residents. It came so easily to some of them that I marveled at how they were comfortable in almost any situation here.

The administrator who was in charge when I came had been involved in hospital administration. Then the hospital where he worked bought a rundown nursing home. After he directed the facility's restoration and recertification with Medicare and Medicaid, he was hooked. He told me he liked the challenge of managing a nursing home.

Some administrators were here such a short time I never did find out very much about them. Many worked as interim administrators and came from a corporate office. I think it would be particularly difficult to come here for a few months and then move on. I do not know how they could feel they had made an impact any place.

I wonder too about the job security of administrators. They all come in the door with bright smiles and ideas about making things better. But unfortunately, I have been in the middle of a couple of them ending their employment here. I never knew the circumstances. I just happened to be in the front lobby as the administrator was being escorted out by someone from corporate. If I was fond of that administrator, I felt a sense of sadness. If I was not, I wondered how they felt walking out the door without being able to say goodbye. Maybe they were accustomed to being relieved of a job in that way. But as a resident, I have never gotten used to it. Most of the time we residents do not find out that the administrator is gone until several days later.

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Dear Kathleen

I always admire how you speak the truth, that for residents the administrator can be a 'distant' figure both literally and metaphorically or they can be hands on and engaged with life in the facility. My bet would be that you remember the ones who were engaged with life. This week my mother in law entered respite care in a nursing home so now I am witnessing the nursing home caring for a person I love, coupled with my research and advocacy for better care.

Can I say I feel completely let down - while there are good staff there, I have also witnessed bored, uninterested staff who lack even the most basic communication skills - it has been a great shock and very sad for my wife.

It inspires me however to lobby even harder for improvements in the industry - we can do better!

Take care
Ralph

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...