Nursing home administrator retiring

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Mike Heine
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
— After 15 years of overseeing Walworth County’s Lakeland Health Care Center, Administrator Phyllis Williams is calling it a career.

At age 70, she will retire officially Jan. 4, 2008, due to personal health reasons.

“It was a hard decision,” she said. “My family felt that I needed to do it now rather than have things exacerbate.”

Williams came into the position in 1992 from an administrative position at Jefferson County’s Countryside Nursing Home.

In her tenure, she directed a major reduction in staff and resident numbers and saw a new $14.6 million facility built.

“My goal was to get a new facility, get the number of residents to where we needed and get people moved in. That was very successful,” Williams said. “Everyone was happy with the new facility, and I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.”

Williams had led with an inter-disciplinary approach, said Vicki Gorden, admissions coordinator.

The facility focuses not only on the residents’ health needs, but also their social, recreational, psychological and family needs, Gorden added.

Transition to direct care

Following a nationwide trend, the new facility made the transition to residential directed care. Residents have more freedom to do what they want, when they want.

With eight residential units, and a kitchen and recreational area in each one, residents’ schedules aren’t dictated by staff as they used to be. A resident can eat breakfast when he or she wants or get up in the middle of the night and grab something out of the kitchen refrigerator, Williams said.

“That’s big time these days in all nursing homes,” Gorden said. “Phyllis is very much a part of that. She instigated it here.”

When Williams started, the center housed 353 residents. When the county board began looking at a smaller facility, there were 325 residents, she said. Admissions were put on hold when the resident population hit 235.

When the new facility was approved and built for residential directed care, resident numbers were cut to 120.

Staff numbers were reduced from more than 300 to 187 with only four layoffs. The other reductions came through attrition.

Challenges for replacement

Williams’ replacement will come into a position that oversees a $13 million budget, has a union staff that Gorden said respected its last administrator and falls under the leadership of Health and Human Services Director Linda Seemeyer.

Until this summer, Williams had reported only to County Administrator David Bretl. The health care center was merged with health and human services as part of a consolidation effort to identify efficiencies and save money.

The new administrator will need to work toward identifying those efficiencies, Williams said.

Most important, the facility’s new leader will need to keep up the center’s positive image.

“They’ll need to just make sure that we maintain staffing so we maintain the quality of care that we’ve been known for providing here,” Williams said. “I think that’s the goal of everyone that’s involved. I think I would recommend to whoever my replacement is that we continue to be known as a very high-quality facility.”

The county expects to hire a qualified administrator in the next three months.

Last updated: 10:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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