Transforming Age elected a new executive director at Vashon Community Care last month.
Mike Schwartz, who has worked for the Bellevue-based nonprofit for more than three years, held the position on an interim basis for six weeks after the previous director was deemed not a good fit. An announcement about Schwartz serving at VCC on a permanent basis came in mid-July. He recently shared some of his observations and plans for VCC, saying that he appreciates the cultural diversity he found among residents and staff. He noted he has found there is room for people to be different and still be accepted.
“That is one of the things that drew me to be part of the team,” he said.
One of the challenges Schwartz is facing is financial; VCC has run at a substantial deficit since it opened.
“We are working toward balancing our budget and being sustainable,” he said. “We have made great strides in a short amount of time, but there is still a lot of work to do.”
Adding to the financial challenges is that the building is beginning to show its age. A sewer pump replacement will cost $50,000, he said, and there will be a capital campaign to raise money for a new roof, which will cost at least $300,000.
“The community built this place. We need community support for it to continue; that cannot change,” he said.
He noted that community support is not just financial — but about people giving of their time.
“There are more volunteers here than I have experienced in any other community where I have been,” he said. “I love it. It is heartwarming and encouraging.”
Outside at VCC, there has been a sign for many weeks encouraging people to work there. Schwartz said the center has a particular need for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and Transforming Age will cover the cost of tuition for people 18 and older who take the class and agree to work at VCC for any “real amount” of time.
“We want people to be here long-term,” he said. “The lower the turnover, the better care we can provide.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid rate nursing homes on a 5-star system, with one star being “much below average” and five being well above. VCC is now rated a two-star facility, a “below average rating.” At its most recent evaluation, in June of this year, VCC was given two stars overall. Additionally, it received four stars for its health inspection rating and one star each for staffing and quality measures. Schwartz said he wants to turn this around as well, but said he is not sure how long the process will take.
“It is one of our North Star goals to be a five-star facility,” he said.
Before joining Vashon Community Care, Schwartz held multiple leadership roles within the Transforming Age, according to a recent press release. He began his health care career in the Administrator in Training Program at Skyline, a continuing care retirement community in Seattle. He also served at Parkshore, where he was instrumental in helping the community receive a 5-star rating.
“I am confident that Mike is a great fit for the community,” says Kevin McNamara, Regional Director of Operations for Tranforming Age. “Mike has a strong understanding of industry best-practices and the technical expertise needed to build long-term sustainability for VCC.”
Schwartz lives in Bonney Lake with his family, including his wife Karen, a teacher, and their two children. He holds a BA in business and finances from Walla Walla University.