Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Arbors Memory Care Community and the duties of your position.
Gina Stutchman: We are an assisted living facility that specializes in memory and all forms of dementia care, including Alzheimer’s and Lewy bodies, frontal lobe, alcohol- and stroke-related dementia. I started designing the building in 1994 and started construction in ’96. It took a little longer than expected because my father passed in the middle of that process. The building was licensed in 1999 and I leased it to another company for six years. We have had it back since March of 2004. As administrator, I deal a lot with finding the right staff and making sure they have the training and the tools in place to do the job right. Teamwork is really necessary, and I expect when every employee passes a resident in the hall they have a big smile on their face, say hi and address them by name. That makes a difference in their day. My job basically is to make sure my clients get the best care possible and that entails a lot of family interaction — the more I interact with the family, the more I know about my client and how to make them happy and care for them in the best way.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Stutchman: My family has been in senior housing since I was 5, so this is what I have always done. I used to walk to the nursing home after school and I did basically every job there. My dad felt like you couldn’t train your staff if you didn’t know what you are training them to do, and you better know every job in the business. He ran me and my brother through all the different departments.
NNBW: What do you like most about the career you chose?
Stutchman: It has meaning. I have tried to quit the family business before, but I look at other careers that are probably simpler, and it just seems really flat. Apparently I am the kind of person who needs to feel like I am making a difference. Plus, I know this industry and I know the regulators. I feel like I can affect things in Nevada. If you want to speak to your legislators, you have a shot at getting heard.
NNBW: You mentioned that you try to learn a lot about your residents and their families. In doing so you form a bond with them. How do you deal with the passing of your residents?
Stutchman: It’s not easy. We do work with hospice a lot of the time, and that helps a lot because we are not a medical model and when someone gets near end of life it gets hard transporting them to doctor’s appointments and things like that. Having hospice micro-manage their medical needs takes a big emotional and psychological burden off of me and my staff because we are sure they are comfortable and not in pain. It helps a huge amount.
NNBW: Has there been one old gentleman or one lady that’s been your absolute favorite?
Stutchman: I don’t think I could go to one — I always have a couple residents in the building at any given time that somehow you connect with.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Stutchman: Painting the parking lines of the parking lot at Fallon Convalescent Center, and my brother and I opened a business running the candy and Coke machine at Fallon Convalescent Center. We made like 80 bucks a week when I was just 7 — it was sweet.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Stutchman: You had better be ready to get to know your clients. If you don’t get to know them, you cannot do a good job. And know the regulations, because they are there for a reason. For every crazy regulation we have, some bad operator did something that forced the state to create that regulation.
NNBW: What’s the most fun you have had on the job?
Stutchman: When I walk in the back and they are doing something cute. I walked back yesterday and three of my clients were all in a row sitting by the backdoor. They obviously were in the garden because one had a rose in her hair, another had a handful of roses, and the third was eating the rose petals. They were giggling and laughing and having a blast.
NNBW: How do you like to spend your free time away from work?
Stutchman: With my kids and my husband. I commuted here from Napa for four years when we had it leased out. I missed out on a lot of time with my family because of that, and I am in this mode of making up for lost time with my kids and my husband.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Stutchman: An archeologist.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?
Stutchman: I don’t think so. The years I had this place leased out, I did a couple of consulting jobs and also went to Costa Rica for a while. You get bored — there are only so many days you can go out partying or hang out on the beach doing nothing. You have to contribute on some level.
NNBW: What’s your ideal of the perfect vacation?
Stutchman: No plans at all. I like international travel, and I don’t usually book anything other than right when I arrive and when I leave. I usually tend to find stuff as I go along. We went to Vietnam, and it was amazing. I got a moped and went all over Saigon.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Stutchman: I like the fact that Nevada has a low enough population that you can affect the regulatory arena. I can be heard, and I like the fact that you can let your elected officials know what problems are in their jurisdictions. I liked moving back here because my family had a stellar reputation in senior housing. I like the size of the city; it’s not overwhelming, it’s close to Lake Tahoe, and it’s reasonably affordable. It’s been a good move for us, and our quality of life has really improved since we moved here.
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