OSAWATOMIE — The excitement in a staff member’s voice at Life Care Center of Osawatomie when she talked about Amiee Seck’s return provided the first indication of the resurgence in morale.
“We’ve got our executive director back!” the employee said.
Seck returned to that leadership position in mid-December after a five-year hiatus. The realization that she wanted to get back to her roots after running a couple of large assisted living facilities in Overland Park came during a somber moment.
“My dad passed away in mid-November, and as I was standing there and I had all these local people coming in, family members and friends who are family, I just thought I needed to get back to that feeling of knowing that whoever walks through the door, I know them.”
Seck said she knew Life Care Center at Osawatomie had gone through some struggles over the last few years and turnover in the executive director position.
“So I reached out and they had an opening and it all worked out,” she said. “Since I’ve been back it’s nice to be sitting here and somebody will walk in. They are here just visiting somebody but I know them and we can chat about how much has changed in the last five years. I missed that a lot.”
Seck ran a couple of assisted living facilities in Overland Park, helping with the renovation of one and a start-up at the other. Before returning to Life Care Center, she worked at Healthcare Resort of Leawood, which is a skilled and assisted living facility.
“Professionally, it’s been great for me just to see lots of different angles of this business,” Seck said of her time in Overland Park. “Personally, it’s nice to get back here, though.”
Seck said health care in general has changed in the past five years, and the competition has completely changed with a growth in the number of out-patient services rather than admitting patients to the hospital who might transition to an assisted living facility. Newer assisted living facilities in Johnson County also are attracting more residents.
“Once someone goes to a hospital like Olathe (Medical Center), they may go stay in a building in Olathe,” Seck said.
A decline in residents has occurred not just at Life Care Center but at other facilities in neighboring communities, she said.
“We have 45 residents and we’re licensed for 110, but really if we had 80 we would be pushing it,” Seck said. “And the competition’s buildings (in Johnson County) are brand new. They are new, they are shiny, and we’re in older buildings with some of the older building challenges.”
The resident dynamic has changed as well.
“I’m surprised that almost half of our residents are under the age of 65 and are on Medicaid services,” Seck said.
Seck places a premium on providing services to help build numbers. Life Care Center also is looking south to attract more residents.
“This is a great building. The bones of it are great,” Seck said. “It just needs some love that we haven’t been able to do or haven’t done in the last few years.
“We need to remind people that we have great services,” she said. “It’s not necessarily about the bright, shiny building. It’s about the people that care for you. It’s reminding everybody there is no place like home. That’s what we need to get back to here. That’s our biggest challenge.”
So she is working on plans to build up services and put an education plan in place to hire and retain more certified nursing assistants.
“Stroke and Parkinson’s rehab is a need,” Seck said. “We have the anti-gravity treadmill, and being able to use that for stroke patients is huge.”
Life Care Center has added 24-hour registered nurse coverage. The additional nursing services help with things like medication management, she said.
“A lot of times someone ends up in skilled nursing for the simple fact that they are at home for so long and then they just lose the ability to manage their own medications and then typically an accident happens because of that and they end up here,” Seck said.
Life Care Center also has the only lymphedema specialist in Miami County, she said.
“I’m more about providing services to the community, and then those services will end up giving us the census that we need,” Seck said. “It takes a while but if we can focus on what the community needs then eventually the building will start to fill up.”