MVH: Tell us a little bit about your background. What led you here?
Jake: From a young age I have always wanted to work in the service industry. My parents led by example, my Mom is an RN and my Dad a retired Captain with the Vermont State Police. I began my career as an occupational therapist. Eventually finding my way into skilled and long-term care. I found a great level of satisfaction building great relationships with those I cared for. I actually never thought about making the jump from a treating clinician to administration. When I was approached about applying for the Administrator position I really felt that I was going to work as a therapy program director for a very long time. Ultimately the ability and interest in helping develop programming and focus on quality and customer service on a grander level had a great draw and I have never looked back.
MVH: What made you decide to join Maine Veterans' Homes?
Jake: That next challenge. Over my 5 years at my previous facility I helped my team navigate a great deal of physical change and change to our clinical programming. We made great strides in building a reputation built on clinical excellence and customer service. And I found myself ready for that next big challenge. Navigating with my team in Augusta a "Small house" new construction project will definitely serve as that challenge.
MVH: What surprised you the most when you arrived at MVH?
Jake: I have been familiar with MVH since becoming an administrator. I was always intrigued by what appeared from the outside as a strong dedication to those they serve. The surprise I've seen in my first weeks is a positive one. The fabric at MVH is woven with a strong dedication to live the organization's mission. That mission is passionately supported everyday by senior leadership, executive staff and the board.
MVH: What do you consider some qualities of a long-term care administrator?
Jake: There are many qualities that make up a good administrator. The ability to listen, guide and motivate, the ability to work collaboratively, support and lead are all great qualities in a strong LTC Administrator. But, the quality that I feel is most imperative is the hunger to serve your residents, patients and staff. The passion to find new ways to create quality and as important find success in sustaining those victories.
MVH: What challenges do you expect to face?
Jake: One of the challenges I fully expect and I embrace is human nature. Human nature gives everyone the opportunity to do amazing things but it also can create barriers to success. Specifically embracing change. The healthcare world changes almost on a monthly basis. New regulations, new policies, new best practices and that can become an overwhelming force on the daily operations of management and front-line staff. The fear of doing something new or being held accountable for a new requirement can be intimidating. Ultimately, MVH Augusta is designing a new facility with a completely new model of operations. The end product will be a completely client centered approach to SNF/NF living but getting there will serve as another challenge to human nature and our ability to accept change.
MVH: How do you define excellence in long-term care?
Jake: Excellence in LTC starts and ends with the organization. Excellence in LTC is finding new and creative ways to raise the bar of customer service, quality and find success in sustainability.
MVH: In your experience, what is the biggest obstacle that administrators face in trying to achieve excellence?
Jake: In my experience, its not any one things, but there certainly are natural barriers to achieving excellence. Resources, reimbursement rates, staff stability, are a few items that can limit the abilities of many hoping to achieve excellence. The caveat to that is that excellence can come in many shapes and forms in many different settings. There's always a way to do better.
MVH: What is the biggest takeaway you want people to know about you?
Jake: I come with some great experiences in instituting change, working through changes to physical plant, and great experience as a front-line clinician, but the biggest thing people should know about me is that I love what I do. I love serving the people we serve. I love involving my three young daughters in "LTC Life". And I love leading teams of outstanding professionals to break the mold of what a LTC facility is and build a culture where every step we take, every breath we take (I think that's a song) is to serve our patients and residents better than the day before.
Maine Veterans' Homes is an independent nonprofit organization serving Maine's veterans and families. For more information - including volunteer and employment opportunities - visit www.MaineVets.org