Celebrating Deanna Rodriguez, DON

Submitted by Kai Williams, Therapy Resource, Keystone East, TX
We love our nurses! They bring so much clinical strength and leadership to our market! We see them tirelessly tending to the needs of patients, providing updates to family members, providing oversight/guidance to their CNAs … the list goes on and on. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to Deanna Rodriguez. Although her cape is invisible, she wears it with such grace and humility.

The clinical journey for Deanna did not happen overnight! She began as a LVN in 2002 and she received her RN in 2010. She found a passion in leadership and developing leaders and became a DON in 2012. She has built her experience throughout the year, and we are so privileged to have her on our team. She currently serves as the DON at the Courtyard. She came in with such a fun and energetic spirit and quickly implemented several clinical systems that have produced extremely positive results at the facility. When COVID entered the facility last year, she was such a rock and solid support to those that she encountered. What is most noticeable is that she extends her support beyond her facility. She is a familiar face in several of her cluster facilities. She takes the time to assist with other facilities’ EMPR, UDAs and Risk Management. She has become a true owner of this process and loves celebrating and empowering accountability.

Take a look at this picture below. Deanna was getting ready to head over to a sister facility to provide support, and her team just couldn’t bear to have her leave. It was a great shot that captured some of her Nursing team, having a little fun, holding her “hostage.”

Recently, Deanna voluntarily stepped up to take the interim DON position at one of her cluster facilities due to the departure of the previous DON. The facility needed clinical leadership, and she stepped up! She has been able to successfully take that facility through full book and a few state pop-up visits. With the support of her partners, she helped them to open their COVID unit, and they have safely accepted patients from other sister facilities as well as the hospital. Deanna has put such a wonderful level of investment into her ADON and nurse partners in her local facility that she is able to physically step away without any clinical disruption occurring. s
Thank you, Deanna, for all you continue to do!

Nhu De Vera, Clinical Systems Resource, Caught on WebEx Camera!

By Deb Bielek, Therapy Resource
It’s been an interesting year as we are all well aware. Because of a significant reduction in travel, in-person meetings have been greatly reduced, with the majority of our meetings being held through Webex, resulting in only one or two opportunities to hug this lady in the past 12 months. I am truly grateful for the virtual meetings where I can see her smiling face and spend time learning and growing from her clinical wisdom. I feel blessed to have an amazing clinical partner, COO Nhu DeVera.


The majority of our work together this year has centered on our Excellence in Programming & Interdisciplinary Care (EPIC) initiative and many additional side-projects, which have spiraled out of a focus on clinical quality initiatives. Not only does Nhu bring a field-driven brilliance and clinical wisdom to our projects, butu she is the definition of a true partner and service-based leader. I originally met Nhu in person in 2018 when Marivic Uychiat, Director of Clinical Services, asked her to join the Service Center team as the Clinical Systems Resource. We served on the Service Center IDT committee together. Nhu helped develop and provide the trainings to support the transitions to PDPM and the new CMS RoPs (Requirements of Participation), which rolled out in 2019. Prior to her current role, Nhu served as the clinical leader alongside Rich Jorgensen and Therapy leader Daisy Aranguren, DOR and Therapy Resource. Thank you for all that you do to make all of us better, Nhu. #Grateful #AmazingCLINCALpartner #NhuROCKS

Recognizing Tamala Sammons, SLP & Super-Resource

By Chad Long, Therapy Resource

As we celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month, I wanted to share a few comments from the field about Tamala Sammons, SLP & Super-Resource. Thank you, Tamala, for your kind heart, wicked smartness and desire to see the best in all of us!

Without Tamala, we wouldn’t have had the success that we have had. Her support and motivation means the world to me! And let’s not forget about those POSTettes — they are incredible tools and resources that make my role easier. Love yau! — Heather Bjernudd, Therapy Resource

Since day 1, I have had Tamala on speed dial when it comes to guidance on regulatory updates, POSTettes, and all things ST. She is always quick to respond and she will do her homework to make sure she is providing the most accurate information. What I love and appreciate the most is that each time I reach out for support, her response is always filled with passion and such joy. — Kai Williams, Therapy Resource

Her passion to develop programs not only in the ST realm, but also to the therapy world, is bar none. We admire her for her relentless pursuit of truly dignifying long-term care. But amidst all that, she is grounded, humble, funny and kind — a true clinician, family person, amazing colleague and a friend.
Happy ST Month, to the one and only, Tamala Sammons!
— Dennis Baloy, Therapy Resource

Tamala was an amazing support for me as a new resource. How does anyone know the answer to everything! A complete wealth of knowledge as well as being easy to talk to — I could be totally honest and vulnerable without concern, always looking forward to our conversations. And then there’s those Postettes… the depth of information in short form is amazing. I didn’t realize how good Tamala was at writing and editing these for any topic until I was on the EPIC committee and we wrote the B&B Postette. Is she sure she’s not a PT and an OT as well? — Shelby Donahoo, Therapy Resource

Tamala has done an amazing job in many areas, but I am extremely grateful for the POSTettes. She has created a library of information that is easily understood and set up to be a quick read. This has been so beneficial to the field, and the therapists use these to enhance their skills, understanding and documentation. The POSTettes have been a significant part of the success of our therapy programs! — Kelly Alvord, Therapy Resource

Tamala is my go-to for everything regulatory, billing and technical. To multiply me as a leader, she will direct me to where I can find the answers, more often than not, but I’m amazed at her bank of knowledge and how she is able to help me grow as a leader in finding and learning information. Tamala has made herself available to DORs and therapists in our market, especially our SLPs, which has added another layer of support and increased the effectiveness of these leaders and therapists. Her leadership has been so impactful. Our therapy teams would be nowhere near where they are now if it wasn’t for Tamala’s influence and support. — Gary McGiven, Therapy Resource

Tamala was my very first Divisional Rehab Director (in another company). I was a new SLP and ready to change the world; Tamala helped not only encourage my passion, but maintain it over the years (and across two companies). She has supported me in all things SLP, from attending conferences together to brainstorming over the latest coding changes. She has a fervor for SLP that can’t be matched, but I keep on trying! Also, POSTettes might just be the best thing known to mankind. — Whitney Warkentin, Therapy Resource

My name for Tamala is “Siri”! Ask her anything and she gets back to you in seconds or minutes with not only an awesome answer, but documents to back it up! She is an amazing lady with so much knowledge and kindness to go right along with it. She’s the real deal! I feel extremely fortunate to have her as a resource partner! — Candy Hardin, Therapy Resource

The last year has been challenging, stressful and dare I say character-building. I do mostly enjoy challenges, and can appreciate the sense of accomplishment after getting through, but I had a challenge I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through okay. Tamala was wholeheartedly in my corner and was so supportive. One particular day I saw trouble coming and called Tamala. She is always so responsive; she answers the phone almost every time I call. (I’m sure it’s because I’m her favorite, but I suppose there is a chance she is always this responsive 😊) She was in the middle of something, but still took the time to listen to my concern, make me feel validated in my concern, and give me confidence to address the concern. I remember thinking how grateful I was for her and the support she gave me. — Cory Robertson, Therapy Resource

Tamala is my “go to” for anything regulatory, any changes that require changes in how we document, and when I really can’t find any information… she digs for us! Tamala has been amazing all these years. Her saying “sharing is caring” really rings true! — Maryann Bowles, Therapy Resource

Tamala has been so great with updating us and keeping us current through her POSTettes! They are an absolute life saver! She is always great with explaining things and being available for questions related to SLP and general therapy questions. She is a rockstar! Woooohoooo! — Stephanie Winkler, Therapy Resource

She is always available and willing to help answer questions as we have them. — Joleen Linn, Therapy Resource
Tamala is amazing! Her energy, her spunk, her attention to detail are all things I wish we could all have. She always answers my calls, gives me a good reality check when needed, and pushes me to be better than when our conversations started. Her informational emails, POSTettes, and overall knowledge about everything amazes me. She’s also one of the best humans to hang out with. Smart, witty, entertaining, and always up for an adventure. I honestly don’t know what we would do without her.
— Aimee Bhatia, Therapy Resource

I have never worked with someone who demonstrated caring about those she supervised quite like Tamala. Tamala was often aware of, or receptive to, issues affecting those she worked with in a way that demonstrated caring. I always have felt I could bounce anything off Tamala, not just work-related issues but life issues. She strikes the perfect balance of encouraging you to care for your work and care for yourself. In a work environment, you can at times feel lost in a sea of employees, but not with Tamala. She knows her people and is a partner in every sense of the word. She wants to hear your voice and is willing to help that voice shape the organization to become better. Every baseball team needs a good utility player — someone who is good at every position and willing to step up and make things happen. Tamala is Ensign’s ultimate utility player. Thanks, Tamala, for what you do, but more importantly for who you are. — Sam Baxter, Therapy Resource

Recognizing Elyse Matson, MA CCC-SLP Clinical Resource

By Tamala Sammons, MA CCC/SLP, Therapy Resource
Elyse Matson, SLP has been with the organization as a treating clinician and SLP Clinical Resource. She has helped SLPs across the entire organization better understand working with dementia patients, navigating the sub-acute population, ensuring CFY supervision experiences are solid, providing education and support of the ThinkThin! initiative, ensuring SLPs are taking vital signs and providing education to ensure accuracy with coding the SLP Casemix. Thank you, Elyse, for all you do to ensure everyone has the support to ensure our patients are being taken care of. Elyse is the best!

“I brought Paula home from Carmel Mountain the day before we locked down for COVID. They had done a great job with her post the brain tumor removal. About midway through the COVID lockdown it seemed like Paula was experiencing a cognitive decline. I reached out to Elyse and she took the time to find out what Paula’s cognitive scores were at discharge and walked me through doing a cognitive assessment. Since Paula was actually even better than when she discharged, she calmed my fears and reminded me of activities to do with her to keep her improving. Thank you Elyse.”—Debbie Miller, Compliance Officer (photo of Paula)

Elyse is not just an excellent clinical resource for our speech therapists, but also a great overall colleague, friend and human being. Her passion to elevate and dignify long-term care is evident with everything that she does! We love you, Elyse! May you continue to spread your knowledge and positive influence to all! — Dennis Baloy, Therapy Resource

Elyse is truly an amazing lady, SLP and resource partner. She has helped every SLP in Iowa from answering billing and coding best practices to how to treat certain conditions to educating on goal examples for someone with esophageal cancer and other conditions. She’s always available by phone and has come to do onsite education many times. She has a wealth of knowledge that she does not hesitate to share. Elyse has gone above and beyond and presented to the Heart Stone Therapy leaders to help educate them as well on how to grow their SLP programs! She is a true partner and we love and appreciate her! — Candy Hardin, Therapy Resource

She did a training for DORs/STs for Bandera West in February; the focus was for LTC programming, and we requested all of the Therapy Leaders be on the Webex as well to help them support and understand the importance of ST involvement in LTC as well. The current STs really trust her and call her, which I encourage — as we are also really trying to increase ST involvement in Section K/BIMs as we have seen a very positive benefit of this in some of our facilities. She keeps me in the loop with who is reaching out to her, which I really appreciate, and she does a great job talking them through it. — Kelly Schwarz, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been a great partner to me as a resource and to our SLPs. She is very approachable and willing to help whenever asked. Elyse has come to our market and provided group training as well as one-on-one training to help build caseload and improve interventions for our residents. Over the last few years, our speech caseload has grown tremendously, and Elyse has been a major factor in this growth. Our SLPs, our market, and our residents are better off because of the support Elyse has provided. — Gary McGiven, Therapy Resource

There has never been a time that Elyse did not follow up and follow through when I needed her support. Be it a minor question or putting her on the spot for an impromptu training with an IDT, she always comes through. Elyse is a fixture on the LTC task force and she has brought so much awareness to the SLPs’ role in serving our LTC patients. I love her direct and objective responses to questions, and I appreciate her style when it comes to teaching. The passion that she has for all things speech is easily shown through her delivery. My love for Elyse is Big! — Kai Williams, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been such a huge blessing to me as I’ve moved into a full-time resource role. She always goes out of her way to help with any projects I’m working on, and has generously shared her expertise and training tools to help me grow personally and train others. I feel like she’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders and has a wealth of knowledge. She pushes all of us speechies to be better! — Tiffany Bishop, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been such an amazing support for our SLPs in Keystone and to me! I can ask her any questions as she is a wealth of information! She is so busy, yet takes the time to get back with us and is great with follow up. She is truly a Rockstar and is such an AMAZING asset to our SLP profession!!!! ~ Stephanie Winkler, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been extremely engaged in our market with welcoming, developing, motivating and educating our SLPs. She had a market SLP meeting last Friday with focus on section K involvement, cognitive assessment and proper coding, LTC programming, and documentation. She is passionate, patient (with my EDs), and is extremely available to field questions whenever they arise. I personally have learned so much from her in my short time as a resource. I think she is pushing us all to further value, refer to, and support all of the amazing SLPs we have in Flagstone. — Aimee Bhatia, Therapy Resource

During one of my visits in the first few months as a Therapy Resource, I had a specific speech therapy question. I quickly stepped out into the hallway and called Elyse. She was so helpful, so quick to respond, and supportive. I look forward to more interactions with Elyse and am grateful to be able to reach out to her. — Cory Robertson, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been a great asset to our market, as she was able to come to NE last year pre-COVID and spent a day with each of our FT ST. This included reviewing patient caseload, offering tips on documentation, and potential caseload development. She has also continued this support with new hires as of late by scheduling telephone/Webex training. This has created an environment of support that our STs have truly appreciated. We are starting up monthly/bi-monthly ST phone calls to foster a support system for this group. During this time, Elyse has offered to be a part of these calls to help get us up and going! — Ryan Hough, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been an amazing support for us in Bandera. She is always willing to help, and her excitement for what she does is contagious to others. She has presented over Webex recently at my DOR meeting regarding how DORs can support ST programming. She also has recently provided support with individual staff members regarding appropriate coding. I only have one negative comment and it is a BIG NEGATIVE: She is not willing to relocate to AZ! — Denny Davis, Therapy Resource

Elyse came to Kansas (pre-COVID) and visited each of our facilities, meeting the SLPs individually, and hosted a live education the same week. We had plans for a follow-up visit, then the world came to a halt with COVID. We had a few new SLPs at that time, and Elyse has acted as a mentor when they had questions — they were so appreciative of her willingness to be available. I know several of them have reached out and continue to reach out as they need assistance. Elyse has a gift for teaching her colleagues, as she is able to relate to their daily schedule and the challenges they face and speak their language. Her passion for her profession is evident in her eagerness to grow others, vast evidence-based knowledge and guidance with documentation. Elyse has also helped with the shift in the mindset in Emerald by helping the SLPs see how they CAN help our LTC residents. We are blessed to have Elyse as a Resource. — Madeana Galler, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been so welcoming to me coming in as a new Therapy Resource. She has shared presentations with me and spent time with me on the phone, discussing what I want to do within the CO market. I already know she has an impact on people because I’ve heard her name multiple times, in multiple buildings. So happy to work with such a dedicated SLP leader! #speechforeveryone — Whitney Warkentin, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been an amazing partner. I haven’t met many as passionate about her craft as she is. She is on Facebook groups and Instagram as it relates to speech. Elyse is connected with school programs, up to date with the latest regulations and trends associated with speech and language. I have watched as she has thrown herself into this role and created something special. She is not only a resource to the facilities, but she is a resource to the resources. I have seen her train SLPs on program development, documentation, taking on CFYs, and assisting with recruiting. You name it, and she does it as it relates to SLP. Most recently, Elyse reached out and told me she thought there would be benefits in providing trainings to SLPs within a market and then following up that training with monthly calls with the SLPs to help them feel like they are part of a community. Elyse has been involved in education as it relates to Abilities Care and taking that training to markets throughout the organization. I could go on and on. Elyse is an amazing partner and friend. You can determine the value at times of an individual’s contribution in the workplace by imagining what things might be like without them. Without Elyse, we would be far less off. Elyse provides immense value to this organization. We love you, Elyse, and are so grateful for you! — Sam Baxter, Therapy Resource

Elyse has done face-to-face training for us in Colorado. Many SLPs text her directly with questions! She’s helped us to analyze documentation as well as caseload utilization. She’s been so helpful for our Colorado market. — Maryann Bowles, Therapy Resource

We have appreciated all the support Elyse provides the WA market. She’s part of our SLP email group and answers all their questions. She responds quickly to texts and phone calls from DORs, SLPS and myself. She has provided at least 5 Webex trainings for us in the last year, whether specific for a building or for our entire group, then follows up with carryover of training. She has audited SLP programming and documentation with valuable feedback for us to improve. As an OTR, her support has been invaluable to me personally in furthering my understanding of speech operations. She really takes our SLP program to the next level. — Mira Waszak, Therapy Resource

She’s passionate about SLP and helping residents and developing SLPs! She’s always readily available. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and a good communicator/teacher. I can’t emphasize that enough. They are different skill sets, and not everyone can do both. And if you can’t teach, then you can’t share your knowledge effectively. — Dominic DeLaquil, Therapy Resource

Elyse has been amazing and supportive of the SLP program development. She is crazy smart and full of new and great ideas. I have appreciated how she is approachable and always willing to answer questions and support the SLPs in their development. She is a great “multiplier” for our SLPs as we continue to enhance the care of our skilled SLPs. — Kelly Alvord, Therapy Resource

Elyse Matson fun facts: 1) She has a sailboat and enjoys being on the water. 2) She stays active by doing sprint triathlons. 3) She’s great at goal writing… need help with a goal? Call Elyse! Elyse is truly an amazing partner. No matter what I need help with from respiratory, trachs and vents to PDPM ST CMI, she always comes through with valuable information that I can share with my market. I truly appreciate her and her skillset. — Heather Bjernudd, Therapy Resource

Thank you, Elyse, for everything you do! We are all so grateful for your contributions to help support and grow our SLP programs across the entire organization. We value your partnership and look forward to many more exciting things to come! — Mary, Tamala, Chad, Jon, Sacchin, Deb, Ciara, Mahta, Brian & Jamie aka the PitCrew

March Madness: St. Catherine Edition

by Denise Luong, COTA/L

The Momentum Therapy Culture Committee has been rolling out simple yet fun and meaningful activities that help ignite partnerships between departments. Some of you might have even received heart-shaped lollipops from your favorite therapists during our February Love one Another Project.

In the spirit of March madness, we kicked off the month with our fabulous Rehab team from St. Catherine, “tossing” it out with our hard-working maintenance department, for some great memories. The Rehab vs. Maintenance crew bean bag toss was a hit, with everyone cheering on one another, for a chance to win a scratcher worth up to $1,000! Our maintenance crew came out on top with the most winnings!

A few minutes of fun not only lifted our spirits with smiles and cheers, but also made us forget about work and bond over a simple childhood game of toss.

And that’s a wrap from St. Catherine!

Congratulations Daisy Aranguren, PT/DOR/CTO, Therapy Resource, The Orchard

Submitted by Lito Ortiz, Therapy Resource/DOR, Flagstone-Momentum, CA
It’s my honor to present our newest Chief Therapy Officer, Daisy Aranguren, Director of Rehabilitation at The Orchard Post-Acute Care and Therapy Resource for Momentum. Daisy has been a strong therapy leader within the organization over the past 18 years. Daisy lives the Ensign Culture, and she is driven to help patients, her team, and others succeed and reach their potential. Daisy’s leadership and ownership have helped her and her team achieve incredible results. She’s been with us for 18 years.

Daisy is also one of the elite therapy leaders in the company who has attended the Therapy Summit. Daisy is an integral part of their IDT team. She promotes a positive culture and helps provide great evidence-based outcomes by promoting standardized tests and individualized care and providing the supporting documentation for justification of therapy services. Their therapy team has consistently achieved great clinical and financial outcomes. Orchard’s therapy turnover rate is one of the lowest in the company, and most of our therapists have been at Orchard for at least five years.

Daisy is also dual role DOR and therapy resource; she provides support to coordinate the educational trainings and company-sponsored courses for our therapists. Daisy provides regular updates and trainings to therapists at The Orchard regarding Medicare guidelines, regulations and state practices, and also completes therapist yearly skills checks. Daisy routinely attends company-sponsored trainings on culture, therapy program advancement, and leadership development. She is also working on her geriatric certification.

Congratulations, Daisy!

Congratulations Whitney Wilding, SLP/DOR/CTO, Rosewood Rehabilitation

Submitted by Tamala Sammons, M.A., CCC-SLP, Therapy Resource

Whitney is passionate, dedicated, hard-working and an integral part of the team at Rosewood. She contributes to the success of Rosewood in a number of ways. She works closely and cooperatively with Nursing, MDS and the BOM to be on top of PDPM. In fact, she was very involved in trainings in 2019 in preparation for PDPM and has been integral in the PDPM process at Rosewood from the onset.

She has built a cohesive, creative and vibrant rehab team that serves the residents at Rosewood. Rosewood has traditionally had more of a skilled focus, but under Whitney’s leadership, they have balanced that out with a dramatic increase in their long-term care therapy over the past year. This was a definite goal for Whitney, and she provided education to her team and kept working with them to turn the flywheel of more LTC programming. The Rosewood Rehab team now routinely has a per non-skilled day part B revenue in excess of $30, demonstrating their creative and passionate ability to provide therapy services to their LTC family.

Whitney has identified other potential leaders within her rehab team and has enrolled them in the DORITO program to make sure that Rosewood has good bench strength in rehab leadership as well as providing the opportunity for personal growth for those therapists interested in potential leadership roles.

Whitney has also been an important and influential cluster partner. She is the rehab cluster leader for her cluster and has been very active in this role. She is very supportive of one of the more inexperienced rehab leaders in her cluster, making a pointed effort to identify leadership and personal development qualities for that person as well as all of the DORs in her group. She deliberately guides her cluster partners (and herself) to continually develop personally and professionally.

Whitney lives CAPLICO and makes sure to support everyone in her building. She cares deeply about people, both staff and residents. She does a great job with the rehab staff of balancing the values of Customer Second and Love One Another with Accountability and Ownership. She always does her best to work with and help her therapists improve, but on those rare occasions where someone is not willing or capable of growing, improving and being a good fit, she has the discipline to compassionately part ways with that therapist.

Whitney is a tremendous asset to Rosewood, the Lady Luck cluster and to the Idaho-Nevada market. We are lucky and proud to have her, and she has most definitely earned the honor of being named Chief Therapy Officer.

Announcing Keystone’s Newest Chief Therapy Officers

Submitted by Jon Anderson, DPT, Therapy Resource
What a privilege I have to share and celebrate our newest CTOs (Chief Therapy Officers) in Keystone. The CTO designation is the highest designation a therapy leader in the organization can receive. It is a tall order to be in this elite club. Please join me in congratulating this elite group of Texas leaders!


Vanessa Munoz, Veranda Health & Rehab

Is Ensign in you? If there ever was someone who bled CAPLICO it would be Vanessa Munoz, TPM at Veranda Health & Rehab. She is a true embodiment of our CAPLICO culture. Vanessa began her employment at Veranda 10-plus years ago, starting as a contract PTA with Rehab Care, then eventually transitioning to an in-house therapist. She was the natural selection to lead the team when the previous CTO/DOR left to become an ED. Vanessa quickly caught on and became a driver and an integral part of the IDT team that facilitates the processes to keep the facility operating optimally; however, with that said, she is modest and attributes Veranda’s therapy team’s accomplishments to having the best people in the industry.

In fact, those that she leads commented on how well-supported they feel. She includes them in many decisions. Vanessa’s leadership has led to an extremely cohesive, well-functioning team that consistently produces high levels of efficiency and excellent patient outcomes. But how do you do all of that and do well on audits? Ask Vanessa: Veranda’s MSCA scores are solidly consistent here, too, and they have always been among the highest, culminating with the most recent one — a facility overall score of 98.95% and a remarkable Therapy score of 100%!

Covid was and has been hard for all of us, but Vanessa truly stepped up and led by example in putting in long hours and days, including nights/weekends doing triple duty as a leader, therapist and an assistant to nursing. She stepped in without being asked to help with nurse aide duties, filling in shifts to provide for the residents’ needs, demonstrating love and support by working alongside Nursing staff, and inspiring some of her staff to also help in this capacity. She celebrates her team’s accomplishments, both professional and personal — coordinating and participating in celebrations, birthdays, special accomplishments, holidays, and births. She has had team-building activities to keep her team united and with a common goal to dignify our residents’ lives. I could literally write a novel on Vanessa listing all of her accomplishments in the last 10+ years as an employee and leader at Veranda, but it can be best summated by Jason Hess, Veranda, CEO when querying about her CTO application: “She’s got my vote.” And she certainly has the vote of all who know and work with her.

Andy Cisneros, Westover Hills

Andy Cisneros, PTA, DOR joined us in 2016 via an acquisition at Legend Oaks West San Antonio as the DOR. While at Legend Oaks West San Antonio, Andy was a trailblazer in finding ways to improve length of stay while maintaining great outcomes with our managed care patients, helping to solidify their success with metrics that resulted in the facility being designated as a facility of choice. Andy was instrumental in introducing a new incontinence program, PTNM (percutaneous tibial neuromodulation), to the nursing home sector and was part of an initial pilot program to demonstrate its effective outcomes with the LTC population, which helped fuel this program being used all over the organization as a way to better treat incontinence. Beyond this facility, Andy took ownership in the cluster by ensuring no one missed a resource when capturing Medicaid CMI (case mix index), and the trainings/tools he developed resulted in a growth of >10% in the cluster of under-captured resources.

Andy is a champion in dignifying LTC in the eyes of the world, has helped initiate a number of new programs at his facility, and was one of the first in Keystone to implement the wildly popular therapeutic drumming program. In 2019, Andy left West San Antonio for a new challenge and transitioned to a new acquisition, Westover Hills. This transition allowed him to grow a new team and teach the meaning of CAPLICO to them, but the growth did not stop with just the team, because he took the challenge of growing himself as a leader. At Westover, Andy has taken ownership of assisting in the success of the building by helping in any capacity needed. He is not only the champion for the management of CMI and PDPM, but he also takes the reins in teaching others in the building on how to live CAPLICO culture. He and his therapy team have helped lead the charge in keeping the morale up for residents and staff throughout the entire COVID pandemic. “Work as though the survival of our organization depends on your continued success in your own operation. If we all do that, and help each other to succeed in spite of the challenges, we will not only survive, but we will thrive.” These are the words of Andy Ashton when he was discussing the challenges we are facing in this new COVID-19 world, and Andy Cisneros has operated the bulk of this year with those words resonating in him. He approaches the management of his metrics with that in mind, and is always looking for ways to jump the S-curve. So proud of you, buddy! Congratulations, Andy!

Jayna Owens, Legend New Braunfels

Some leaders dream about cutting edge, culture change, and progressive innovative treatments, and people like Jayna Owens, SLP, DOR, make dreams a reality. Jayna began working for Legend Oaks-New Braunfels in the fall of 2015 and began her journey with us when the building was acquired in 2016. Jayna was inspired by our core values of intelligent risk taking and passion for learning. She worked as the Speech Therapy team lead, moving up to ADOR, and later taking over as the Director of Rehab.

During this time, she took a special interest in long-term care programming and dementia design. Jayna was one of the first in our company to write multiple grants to fund her new therapy programs and vision of changing dementia care. Jayna and her team used grant funds to create and develop shadow boxes for every resident utilizing the Abilities Care Program, creating a Sensory Room with a therapeutic program across all disciplines, dining room dementia design with environmental modifications, and providing familiar landmarks in accordance with resident’s long-term memory to decrease wandering within the facility. She had the opportunity to study with some of the best dementia design specialists in the world at the University of Stirling in Scotland and apply that knowledge to her building and train other affiliates in dementia care. She has a passion for teaching and educating Keystone and the organization in long-term care programming, as she is a frequent speaker on the LTC Think Tanks.

Jayna’s 120-bed facility might not seem like it could support 25 full-time therapists, but due to the nudges and pushes with LTC program development that she has established, her team is equally as inspired and encouraged by the changes happening in dementia care and take pride in Legend Oaks-NB being a progressive leader in innovative long-term care. Way to go, Jayna! Congratulations!

Marci Williams, Wisteria Place

When Marci put her mind to becoming a Physical Therapist, it was no easy task. Already a mother to her precious son Braiden, born with special needs, she was set to leave Abilene and head to Dallas for her last clinical rotation. When Marci learned that Braiden would need to have major surgery and she would be needed at home, she changed her last clinical rotation from Dallas to Abilene and started her rotation at Wisteria in October of 2013. Wisteria became part of the Keystone family in January 2014, and Marci accepted a full-time PT position with Wisteria in Feb 2014. With less than two years of clinical experience, Marci was promoted to DOR at Wisteria, and she has been building and growing the department there ever since.

The shift from student to employee to director would have been a challenge for many, but Marci was up to the task, learning while she taught others. Marci has worked over the years to grow programs and build a team that she loves. Marci had to work hard to grow her team into what they are today; over the years, she has added staff to accommodate program growth, nearly doubling the size of the therapy team. She has seen multiple administration changes at Wisteria and has stepped up every time to assist the incoming leaders as they build rapport, establish systems, and seamlessly transition through grace and knowledge. She is humble yet extremely strong, not only functioning as the DOR of a thriving facility, but serving as a hybrid therapy resource as well for the past two years, providing guidance and support to all of our affiliates in West Texas.

In addition, Marci has specialty knowledge of Kinesio taping, wound care, and PTNM, presenting on the LTC think tank call for incontinence care and training others in her area. She continues to show results across multiple areas, from exceptional MSCA scores to market metrics. However, Marci is not afraid to show vulnerability when necessary for growth. In preparation for PDPM, as facilities across the nation were re-claiming the use of group treatments, Marci humbly admitted that this was an area she lacked knowledge in and reached out for help. The power of asking. Time and time again, Marci has humbly led with no claim to success other than results. Marci continues to grow and evolve, joining committees and asking for education to better serve her team and her cluster, and we are so proud to honor Marci and recognize her as Chief Therapy Officer!

Roohi Kapoor, Mason Creek

Please allow me to introduce you to Roohi Kapoor. She is a Physical Therapist by trade and supports our Mason Creek facility as the Director of Rehab. Roohi began as a staff PT at Misty Willow in 2017 before transitioning to become the DOR at Mason Creek in 2019. Before I can share the details of her achievements in her role as DOR, you must get a grasp of who she is beyond the role. Roohi is in the process of completing her transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy. You would have no idea that she is balancing this level of academic growth on top of her many responsibilities. At the start of Roohi’s transition to DOR, she was challenged to grow long-term care programming and build cultural unity within the facility. To say she has accomplished that goal, and so many others, is an understatement. Yes, her metrics rank amongst the highest in the organization from PNSD, CPM, and Productivity, but the true measure of her success is the actionable execution of clinical programs. She empowers her OT and SLP to grow dementia care with purposeful intent, and she partners with her fellow PT to deliver PTNM (incontinence program).

Roohi’s rehab team was quite tenured before she joined, and they have welcomed her with open arms. Her reach is not limited to just therapy services; she has built a bridge between Therapy, Nursing and the entire IDT. Roohi will extend her support to her cluster and market partners without hesitation. She is able to create buy-in and excitement behind each of her ideas. Education and training is of her utmost importance, as she always wants her team to be ready for anything. Her near-perfect MSCA results are further evidence that she moves with precision and is very thoughtful in how she prepares her team. She is constantly searching to understand what/how she can enhance her skills, both clinically and operationally. It is with great joy that I can share that she will be continuing her professional growth by becoming an AIT. We are beyond proud that she has earned the coveted title of Chief Therapy Officer. Congratulations, Roohi!

Charlie Costa, Legend Garland

Charlie Costa, PT, is the DOR at Legend Oaks Garland. Upon acquisition, this facility was struggling, and unfortunately continued to do so for a while. But through all the struggles, the shining light was always Charlie and his Therapy team. While all other metrics were trending in the wrong direction, Therapy was steadily growing stronger and better. Charlie was able to truly balance the financial responsibilities of the facility and the clinical needs of the patients, and he has been instrumental to Garland’s rise to the top of the market. Charlie has a passion for marketing, and he can often be found working with nearby facilities, home health companies and doctor’s offices to help in census development. Charlie is always up for a challenge; he is the first to introduce a new initiative. When we re-introduced group and concurrent modalities of treatment, Charlie was one of the first in Keystone to train his team and really show us all what a difference this mode of efficiency can make. He was one of our first DORs to embrace the value of DOR treatment in building morale with his team, and he loves to train and mentor students; you never walk into the department without seeing someone learning something new.

Charlie loves to roll out new clinical programs for his residents, as evidenced by his Part B PNSD being consistently in the top 5, and by the smiles on the residents’ faces! If one were to look at therapy metrics, Garland is always in the top third of every metric, not only Part B PNSD, but also productivity, cost per minute, and margin percentage, all while being able to balance his ownership in the data with his love for his team and facility. Charlie’s culture in the facility can only be described as contagious, and in the words of his ED, Will Sherman, “Charlie brings a great energy to our team where there is accountability, but in a loving and fun approach, which is a bright spot in our facility … you really can hear Charlie’s laugh down the hall, and it just makes you smile, because he not only enjoys what he does, but he has the right passion in making sure our residents are cared for properly and manages things as if it were his own.” Amazing job, Charlie, and congratulations!

Patient Success at Shea

By Jada Exstrom, PT, DOR, Shea Post Acute Care, Scottsdale, AZ
Meet Charles—Charles came to Shea Post Acute Rehab Center after suffering several falls in which he hit his head and suffered multiple fractures, contusions and hematomas. As a result of the multiple falls, he was met with confusion and memory deficits, and he had severe restrictions and limitations both mentally and physically, which impacted his progression in rehab.

Due to his medical complexities, confusion and high risk for falls, he ultimately required one-on-one care and attention, including frequent redirection and reorientation. Due to his deficits and decreased safety and insight, case management worked diligently on alternative discharge planning, including discharge to a group home, ALF, or LTC, for a higher level of care. But, much to our dismay, Charles had other plans. He was adamant about returning home and being reunited with his cats.

With the diligent management of his care, watchful eye of our staff and increased oversight, he was able to persevere. There were some things that many were unsure we would ever see from Charles. Charles started to increase his participation in therapy and even started to direct his care, drive his own rehab, and with Zane’s help (our therapy dog), Charles thrived. Charles became a fixture at Shea, walking through the halls (11 laps at a time), visiting Zane every day, conversing with other residents and brightening everyone’s day with his positive outlook.

Charles was able to walk out of Shea on his own accord, no need for any assistance, and return home to be with his cats. Charles is also planning to return to work. Charles, while you gave us a run for our money, you are a great success!