BENNINGTON — Only one person is chosen from each state, and this year, Suzanne Anair, administrator of the Southwestern Vermont Health Care's Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, will represent Vermont in the 13th Annual Future Leaders of Long Term Care in America program.
Nationwide, 38 long-term care professionals join Anair in the program hosted by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL). Later this month, Anair will travel to Washington, D.C. for a three-day symposium that includes meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, taking part in educational activities, and potentially preparing for national seats. Following the trip, there will be quarterly conference calls, literature readings, and projects.
"I'm excited to be here at CLR because I've grown up in this community. This is the first job I've had as an administrator in the community that I live in, so that's really exciting for me," Anair said. "I think being a lifelong resident of Bennington and being able to come back and take care of people that I know, I think that's been the most attractive."
While Anair was attending Johnson State College in 1992, she became a nursing assistant and then went on to work at the Sweet Brook Transitional Care and Living Centers in Williamstown, Mass., until 2005. At that point, she became a licensed nursing home administrator and worked at the Springfield Health and Rehabilitation until 2011, but then returned to Sweet Brook to serve as an executive director for two more years. In 2014, Anair joined the CLR and the Vermont Health Care Association (VHCA).
"You have to be nominated by your state and once that happens, I have to fill out an application. But also, the state has to fill out an application about why they're choosing me as a nominee," she said. "At that point it goes to Washington, D. C. and all of the applications are reviewed. This will be the first time Vermont has had representation, I think in five years."
When searching for a nominee, the VHCA looks at the individual's work history, if they've been published, if they've done education or public speaking engagements.
"The Vermont Association is a great network because you learn about what other facilities are doing. There's a lot of educational opportunities. We do a lot of information sharing," she said. "I've also been a speaker several times."
Anair spoke at the Vermont Nurse Leadership Conference in April at the Killington Lodge about CLR's Music in Memory program where music players are loaded and given to the patients, which ultimately triggers patients' old memories.
Since Anair took the administrative position, the facility has remained deficiency free and underwent $1 million in renovations. This includes the addition of medical staff and an on-site kitchen.
"Long-term care is changing significantly. We're getting more younger patients who are sicker. Not sick enough to be in the hospital but not well enough to be home," she said. "They will come [to the CLR] for short-term rehabilitation stay. So, we've been able to really utilize our resources better from the hospital and our physician base from the hospital."
The VHCA advocates for residents, staff and communities "that depend on Vermont's nursing, residential care, and assisted living homes as an integral component of the long term care continuum," according to its website. It's the oldest and largest organization of its kind in the state since 1955 and represents for-profit and non-profit organizations, hospital based or affiliated homes, multi-facility health systems and industry partners.
— Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.