Joining The John A. Hartford Foundation as a new program officer is exciting! Through my health care leadership roles I have witnessed firsthand the progress that has been made towards the triple aim for the health and health care of older adults and also know that much more needs to be done. The Foundation’s work is central to those aspirations.

Caring for older people has been a meaningful and recurring focus of my professional work. My entry into executive leadership came early in my career when I joined the administration team for a downtown hospital in Omaha, NE, that primarily served a Medicare population. The importance of ensuring quality programs to prevent falls, improve skin care, and manage medications helped me to realize the profound needs as well as the inherent rewards of caring for this vulnerable population.

My career path took me to caring for populations across the continuum in the community at the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) for almost a decade. In 1998, I was recruited to develop and implement a new health system’s program for integrated post-acute services. Nine competing programs were joined to create the region’s largest and highest quality home care and senior services provider. In 2005, two innovative community-based programs were added and continue 12 years later.

I also established a parish-nursing program that evolved into a faith community network that has served thousands of older adults with health screenings and education. The program led to the creation of a national certification for parish nurses with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Our Nursing Home Network, a nurse practitioner-led care transitions program from the hospital to skilled nursing facility, served more than 2000 older adults in 2016.

Forming partnerships and relationships have permeated all of my professional life. So in 2006, I accepted a new challenge: Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of one of the largest hospitals in Louisville, Kentucky. During my tenure at Louisville, I chose to pursue my doctorate in nursing at Rush University. At Rush, my project resulted in the successful building of an Acute Care of the Elderly (ACE) unit that utilized the curricula from Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE), both programs supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation. Additional accomplishments during my time in Louisville included the development of a community care network and the establishment of a very engaged patient and family advisory council.  

The impact of these initiatives was substantial and has had an effect far beyond their actual numbers. The comments made by patients, families, and the care team are especially telling: following the opening of the ACE unit, a patient’s daughter asked me, “What happened to this hospital?” She relayed that her 83-year-old father had been admitted to the hospital many times before, but this time was different. He was on the ACE unit.

This time, she described, the care was “extraordinary.” He was up in his bedside chair to eat his meals, walked at least three times a day, and had something of interest to do. She was so pleased that he was able to go home and not to a nursing home for post-hospital care as he had before. She emphasized that she would no longer take her father anywhere else.

When I returned Omaha to serve as a system CNO to lead the integration of nursing and clinical practice for a large regional health system, I expanded the support and resources to develop Magnet, Pathway to Excellence and NICHE designations. NICHE was widely supported and valued. More than 400 nurses completed the requirements for Geriatric Resource Nurse (GRN) status in all locations, acute and post-acute. Recognizing the need for palliative care, these initiatives have been augmented with resources from The John A. Hartford Foundation-funded Center to Advance Palliative (CAPC).

In 2017, after a short time with one of the nation’s largest home health and hospice companies, my husband and I moved to New York to be closer to family. I was drawn to working for The John A. Hartford Foundation as I wanted to be a part of the great work I had known and benefitted from to improve care in my previous organizations. 

I have learned much about the legacy of John A. and George L. Hartford, their A&P grocery store chain innovations and the development of The John A. Hartford Foundation. I find it fascinating that the Foundation has supported so many amazing clinical and technology advances, research studies, and educational programs for clinicians. I have seen firsthand the contribution The John A. Hartford Foundation makes to patients and families in all phases of my career. I look forward to bringing my expertise, experience, and enthusiasm to the Foundation and being part of the tradition of doing the greatest good for the greatest number in the important work of our current and new grants. 

I am so privileged to work with such a great team and I admire their dedication to the mission and vision of the Foundation to improve the care of older adults. My personal and professional goals and life’s work are so aligned with The John A. Hartford Foundation’s three areas of emphasis – Age-Friendly Health SystemsFamily Caregiving, and Serious Illness and End of Life – that I believe providence brought me here. I am ready to go.