Avera’s Derynck honored for leadership

MARSHALL — Dodie Derynck was one of 50 individuals across Minnesota recognized by LeadingAge Minnesota for innovative and influential leadership on long-term care services at its annual meeting Sept. 21 in Brainerd.

Derynck is the chief of nursing officer and long-term care administrator at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Marshall. She is also known as the vice president of clinical operations. She is the administrator of the nursing home along with responsible for the clinical operations in the hospital, 13 different departments. Essentially two-thirds of the facility.

LeadingAge Minnesota is the state’s largest association of organizations serving older adults and was celebrating its 50 anniversary. LeadingAge Minnesota announced a “50 for the Next 50” as part of this anniversary.

Avera Regional President and CEO Mary Maertens nominated Derynck, who was one of 50 nominees selected from among 94 entries.

“I am nominating Dodie for her forward-thinking approach to meeting the needs of aging populations,” Maertens said in the nomination.

“She keeps her finger on the pulse of regional needs, studies industry trends and finds innovative approaches to meet challenges that arise — whether it’s changes in regulation or reimbursement, identified service gaps in the community or the increasing complexity of residents’ health needs.

“She has been the driving force behind leading-edge solutions implemented in our organization that have made a significant impact in the lives of families,” Maertens said. “Her heart for service to the aging leads her to mentor her team, fostering further development of their skills and igniting a passion for aging services. Dodie is a very fitting choice for this recognition.”

LeadingAge Minnesota President and CEO Gayle Venvold said, “These leaders are making forward-looking innovations in service delivery, elevating the profession of caregiving and preparing Minnesota for the future needs of its aging population.”

Derynck received a “50 for the Next 50” anniversary pin for excellent service.

“Stacy (Neubeck, Avera PR) put it on the nursing home web page,” Derynck said. “It was a great honor. I gotten lots of wishes from staff and hugs.”

Derynck was quick to applaud her team as one that is hard working and cohesive. They contribute to the success of Avera Morning side Heights Care Center. She said that several years ago the staff won an innovation of the year award because of the staffing redesign that had been done at that time.

“We built a new nursing home about 10 years ago,” she said. “Where we converted all our semi-privates into privates, which was leading in the region. We were the first facility in the area to do that — to provide private rooms for each and every resident. We then moved into another concept of care. We divided it into 4 distinct areas; staff worked together implementing a primary care nursing model. We’re the primary facility in the area that does that. We constantly look at new ways of doing things. That’s what keeps us on the forefront, we ask, ‘How can we give good quality care?’ “

The Avera Long-Term Care team works with other agencies in the community to provide better programs for serving folks with chronic needs, transitional care, palliative care and other programs.

“We look at other aspects of the continuum to find areas we can provide services in,” Derynck said. “And, we work very closely with our regional care facilities for uniform regulations, practices and policies. We share resources and Best Practices, too. We collaborate. It’s been a great experience.”

It’s a business now, a regulated environment. “As a business, everyone’s looking for high quality at the best price,” Derynck said. “We all sit down together and score through the regulations together and share resources and ideas.”

They also facilitate a facility-wide risk assessment, which includes engaging the environmental services team, looking at emergency preparedness plans and so forth. They practice drills.

“You have to practice drills,” she said.

Derynck rejects the notion thatnursing homes are places you go to and never come out of again.

“That’s far from the truth,” Derynck said. “We offer services to all ages and for a variety of lengths of stay, from 3 months to 3 years to (30 years) depending on their needs.”