Hamister Group: Jack Turesky, President and Chief Operating Officer

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The United States is facing an aging population and seeing an increased need for assisted-living and retirement services. For years, the healthcare industry has been trending away from skilled nursing home facilities to assisted-living or independent communities. Residents are joining these communities with higher expectations and higher standards for independence and quality of life.  Amenities such as recreation and entertainment, a high-quality dining experience and superior healthcare services are highly sought.

The Hamister Group, Inc., has been on the forefront of providing quality healthcare, as well as continually increasing its focus on fine dining standards and recreation activities for their community residents.

“People evaluate the quality of care and their satisfaction levels with things they understand and are comfortable with, namely food and recreation,” said Jack Turesky, President and Chief Operating Officer. “We have ice cream parlors which are reminiscent of the 1950s, movie theaters, billiards rooms, libraries and expansive space for a wide range of recreation activities. We also hire culinary-educated chefs and employ Food Service Directors at each of our residences to provide more gourmet-style fare and provide a truly fine dining experience for our residents.”

The Hamister Group, Inc., based in Western New York, has three inpatient assisted-living residences that also provide memory-care accommodations and total 436 beds.  In addition, the company operates a home-health agency and 10 hotels, including Marriott and Hilton-brand properties. The group recently tested independent-living apartments at Brompton Heights in Williamsville, New York, which was a successful pilot program. All the amenities and services of the assisted-living residences were offered to the independent-living residents, with the option to transfer to the assisted-living level of care if needed. Turesky said the group plans to add independent-living apartments to another assisted-living residence.

Key focus on service excellence

“We place a monumental emphasis on resident and guest service excellence,” Turesky said. “Over the past 25 years, we’ve maintained a continual focus on developing innovative ideas to improve our resident, guest and co-worker satisfaction scores.”

A significant way to improve hotel guest, healthcare resident, and co-worker satisfaction is through visibility of the senior management.

“Co-workers and even healthcare residents know me or our CEO by name and see us regularly at the property locations,” Turesky said. “It’s important to our leadership to be visible and to be seen as an active part of the residence or hotel’s operation.  Our company surveys healthcare residents and their family members as well as our hotel guests to ensure our properties are not just meeting, but exceeding their individual needs.  A key focus of our healthcare, hotel and company-wide co-worker surveys is to not simply ask how we can improve our services, but to encourage the sharing of innovative ideas from those we survey.  It is also essential we act upon the responses we receive, develop and implement improvement initiatives.”

In addition to the fine dining and focus on a wide-range of daily recreation activities, the Hamister Group, Inc., also desires to be a cutting-edge healthcare-industry leader.

“Recently, Skype video conferencing was offered at our healthcare residences to allow all residents and guests the ability to communicate with family and friends via video locally, nationally and internationally,” Turesky said. “Skype has been the biggest hit. We educated staff co-workers at our residences and their families to demonstrate the video capabilities.  Our sign-up sheets are full every day. The residents love using it and are able to see family members’ faces across the county. Family members and friends can video call with our residents on special occasions, including birthdays or holidays; what a wonderful thing it is to see one of our residents talking and laughing with a grandchild or even great-grandchild who is across the country.”

While the fine dining and recreation focus of The Hamister Group’s assisted-living residences provide overt benefits to the residents, the company also focuses on offering the highest quality healthcare to meet residents’ individual needs.

“We recently added a new program called Private Duty Companion within our healthcare business group,” Turesky said. “This allows residents to stay at our level of assisted-living care a little longer without incurring additional cost.”

He also said the staff maintains both resident and family involvement in the healthcare needs decision-making process.

“Our facility will not consult with a resident’s primary or specialty physician without involving the resident or primary-care family member,” Turesky said. “The management and staff have an emphasis on continual and quality communication with the family to keep them up-to-date and help them understand how their loved ones are doing.”

Maintaining committed co-workers

Maintaining flexibility and a forward-looking, cutting-edge mentality on continual quality improvement are key to The Hamister Group’s ability to maintain hotel-like, service-based environments in its inpatient assisted-living residences.

“Our company culture focuses on accessibility, speed and impact,” Turesky said. “All co-workers have access to and regular interaction with senior management; we are small enough to make quick decisions; and all co-workers, no matter their level within the company or area of business, can make a significant impact on our organization.”

One example he offered of empowering co-workers is that each healthcare personal-care aide is authorized to spend $25, no questions asked, if they encounter a problem with a resident or family member.

“We want to solve problems quickly and provide co-workers the autonomy to make decisions, which increases the resident and/or guest’s satisfaction as well as the co-worker’s own personal satisfaction knowing they were able to make a difference and take ownership of the situation,” he said.

Recently, the group developed and implemented a mentor program for its co-workers.

“Co-workers employed for a year or more with our company who have exhibited strong leadership traits and working knowledge of their positions may join the program and take on a mentor role for new hires,” Turesky said. “If successfully evaluated by the newly hired co-worker after completion of the program, the mentors receive a financial bonus as an incentive for their time invested in supporting new co-workers and helping develop their knowledge of their responsibilities.  We have found this mentor program has also improved our co-worker satisfaction.”

“This investment in the mentor program was a fair amount, but it has been paying off,” he added. “Our turnover rate is down to 57 percent, which is low for the industry, and we are continually working to improve it.”

Turesky said he expects The Hamister Group, Inc. to continue expanding both its healthcare and hotel business groups. “We want to continue growing our healthcare division, as we see our demographics pointing toward more baby boomers looking for assisted living-level healthcare services over skilled nursing,”

“In addition,” Turesky advised, “our company also has a strong focus on succession planning, beginning at the middle-management level and extending to our staff-level co-workers with an emphasis on creating further co-worker professional development programs.  Our company is focused on developing our leaders of tomorrow.”

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