Vashon Care Center administrator to leave agency after seven years

Susan Tuller has seen the Vashon care center through some tough financial times. - Susan Riemer/Staff Photo
Susan Tuller has seen the Vashon care center through some tough financial times.
— image credit: Susan Riemer/Staff Photo

Vashon Community Care will have a change of leadership next week when administrator Susan Tuller steps down and a new director comes aboard.

Tuller, who has been at the care center’s helm for the past seven years, is leaving to become the executive director of Providence ElderPlace, a program that combines health care and social services to keep seniors in their homes.

Tuller said she is excited about her new position with the Seattle-based program, the only one like it in the state, but is sad to be leaving Vashon Community Care (VCC).

“It’s been an emotional last few weeks,” she said.

Tuller became the administrator when the care center facility was new and has seen it through some tough times, including when government funding was cut, severely affecting VCC’s budget. Shepherding the center through that time is one of her proudest accomplishments, she noted.

“We did not have to lay off a single person,” she said, stressing that they continued providing excellent care, despite the challenges that come with extreme fiscal restraints.

Fifteen years ago, when the previous owners announced they would be closing the nursing home and residents would have to be relocated, several Islanders stepped forward to save Vashon’s nursing home, ultimately transferring management to Providence Mount St. Vincent. It has taken a lot of work and dedication on the part of many people to get the center — which houses a 30-bed skilled nursing facility, 40 assisted living apartments and an adult day health program — where it is today, Tuller said.

“I am very proud of the stability and success of the organization,” Tuller said. “Hundreds of families have been able to be with their loved ones at the end of life because this place is here.”

Truman O’Brien, president of VCC’s board, said he is happy for Tuller and her new position and thinks Vashon will benefit from her role. VCC hopes to be a community resource for people concerned about aging issues and will continue to strive to keep people in their homes as long as possible, O’Brien noted, goals that are central to ElderPlace and Tuller’s new role there.

To that end, VCC staff and board will stay in touch with Tuller, O’Brien said.

The new administrator, slated to begin Jan. 3, is Janelle Ansell, a licensed nursing home administrator, who most recently was the administrator of Sea Mar Community Care Center in Seattle and prior to that worked for 11 years at The Kenney in West Seattle, which includes independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

“I think she will be a nice fit,” said Charlene Boyd, Providence Mount St. Vincent’s administrator.

Ansell was selected from a pool of several applicants and rose to the top because of her experience and interests, Boyd said.

“She is well-rounded and holistic in her background,” she added.

In other staffing news at the center, Island resident Donna Zaglin recently became VCC’s director of clinical services. She is a registered nurse with a master’s degree from New York University and has considerable experience in health care administration. She began work at VCC Nov. 29 and characterized these last weeks as “busy, challenging, but fun.”

The type and level of care at VCC has impressed Zaglin.

“When you think about long-term care, this is truly where you’d want your family member to be,” she said.

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