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Healthy Leadership

With 77 million baby boomers slated to turn 85 years old in the next 20 years, it’s safe to say that there should be growth in fields that deal with the health of the elderly.

During the heavy snowfall on the weekend of January 22, Terry Kuzman, administrator of the Parkway Pavilion nursing center in Enfield, CT, drove out to the airport to rent a Chevy Blazer SUV. He wasn’t looking to earn some extra dollars plowing driveways, but rather offer a four-wheel-drive carpool service to his employees that otherwise wouldn’t be able to make it to work at the 140-bed elderly care facility.

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“They thanked me for picking them up and I said, ‘No, thank you for coming to work,'” said the 62 year old, who has been a licensed administrator for nearly 30 years.

Kuzman believes that such efforts show his 170 employees that he appreciates what they do.

“It’s a tough job caring for geriatrics,” he said. “The patients are demanding. The families are demanding. But we can meet those demands if we work together as a team.”

Parkway Pavilion is a dynamic setting for Kuzman and his workers. Roughly half the beds are reserved for short-term rehabilitation from ailments such as hip and knee replacement and recovery from heart attacks and strokes. The other half is for long-term care, which averages two years of residence, and Alzheimer’s sufferers.

“There is a tremendous amount of self-satisfaction in helping elderly people realize how much potential they have in terms of enjoying life,” said Kuzman.

To run such a facility is no small task and, as the administrator, Kuzman sees his primary job as motivating his team. The quality of care is directly linked to how committed and happy the staff is.

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“As the administrator, my attitude when I walk into this building is going to affect the care that is provided,” he said. “To be an administrator, you’ve got to understand and accept that.”

It’s a role Kuzman gladly takes on. The job has provided him with the aforementioned satisfaction and a great deal of job stability thanks to the projection that 77 million Americans will turn 85 in the next 20 years.

“When I started my career, I looked at geriatrics as a growing demographic in the future of the population,” he observed. “It is going to stay a growing area for a long time.”

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