This month, Tel Hai marks an impressive milestone… 60 years of Christ-like service to seniors. An impressive feat? Absolutely! I joined the Tel Hai team in 1975, and since beginning my own employment journey on the beautiful campus of Tel Hai, much has changed. We have grown, expanded and streamlined our operations and services. Below are my ‘top ten’ reflections of our history, heritage and growth:
10. We worked in a regulated environment – there are challenges by government regulations – including government reimbursements, care requirements and building requirements. This has been consistent during my tenure when looking at the prior history and it’s impact on today’s care. At times, these regulations cause stress for both team members and residents.
9. Accommodations can always be improved. When I started at Tel Hai, health care had “ward rooms” now we’re looking for ways to increase the number of private rooms. The rooms were painted block or panel. I laugh when I think how proud we were of improvements over the years – as the years go by buildings that were state of the art become outdated and needing refreshed.
8. The only thing consistent in my tenure – has been change. Some things go full circle. We had a personal care building that became an assisted living building that is now once again personal care. There continue to be campus growth and care improvements – some minor adjustments – some major changes. We have experienced the growth of multiple levels of care and living accommodations, the expansion to the community through Adult Day Services and The Children’s Learning Garden (our child day care center.)
7. When team members and residents work together… we can do great things. Most easily identified are snow or weather incidents, but there have been others as well. Volunteers have always been an important part of the team from the 1-W young men serving their alternative service to the Vietnam War (prior to my work experience) to more than 400 volunteers serving today. Tel Hai could not be what it is without this portion of the team.
6. Beaver Dam and Birdell Roads flood! If you see a sign – don’t go around! I’ve seen lots of flooded cars of people who live or work at Tel Hai… including me!
5. Growth is hard work! Developing the first ‘Campus Master Plan’ took LeRoy Petersheim significant meetings. The second plan took Joe Swartz, our current CEO, significant time as well. The obstacles are/were different – however, long-range planning takes creating a dream and then convincing others of the dream. There are external force – I started during the first energy crises, worked through the bank collapse plus many ebbs and flows.
4. Our mission, vision and core values are central to our success. They have always been a constant.
3. Faith based organizations stay focused by dedicated boards. Tel Hai has been blessed with great board members and leaders over my time. They have been forward thinkers and encouragers to leadership.
2. The team members at Tel Hai are unbelievable – talented, giving, hard working and fun. I am honored to work with three great CEO’s who have mentored me and those around them.
1. The best part of Tel Hai is the people who live here. I have been fortunate to have heard the life stories – from World War II, the Holocaust, investors, and entertainers – to those who live productive lives of which God calls them to live. Residents have mentored me, laughed with me, cried with me and let me be a small part of their lives.
For that, I am eternally grateful.
M. Sue Verdegem, NHA
Sr. Executive Vice President, Finance & Administration
Tel Hai Retirement Community