Profile: Earning his chops — Larry Slatky, board chairman, ACHCA
There is no question Larry Slatky is a driven man. How else can one explain a lower-middle class kid from the Bronx becoming New York's youngest licensed nursing home administrator in 1971, and then presiding as board chairman of his profession's national organization?Slatky actually hit the ground running in the late 1960s, putting together soap dispensers, beds and anything else needed for a yet-to-open nursing facility.
He may have since swapped humbler clothing for Ralph Lauren and cheap drinks for Beefeater's gin, but when it comes to long-term care, Slatky really hasn't come up for air.
He stuck with that after school job, and the owner wound up sending the then 21-year-old to run his other facility when a brother-in-law abruptly left the job.
"Perseverance," Slatky chuckled in explaining the secret to his nearly 40-year love affair with his work. "I'm an administrator. That's who I am."
Currently a senior vice president at the A. Holly Patterson facility in Uniondale, NY, Slatky has held a handful of top administration posts, all in or around New York City. This month, he is expected to be re-elected to a second year as board chairman of the American College of Health Care Administrators.
He said he enjoys the independence of leading a national professional organization, having shed the facility "co-owner" label about three years ago.
Best friends and colleagues – the labels are frequently intertwined with Slatky – describe him as a motivated leader who works hard and plays hard.
In one breath, they talk of the charitable donor for multiple foundation fund-raisers. A sympathetic manager who issues interest-free loans to needy employees.
In the next, they note a demanding, albeit nurturing, mentor.
"He's very methodical. He doesn't need to come up with the solution, but he needs to be involved in the process," says Anthony Restaino, who was Slatky's assistant before succeeding him as administrator at Waterview Nursing Care Center in Flushing, NY.
"He can be very tough," Restaino adds. "When push comes to shove, if you're not doing the job, you're not going to be working for Larry."
At the office at 6 a.m. most days, Slatky is known to photocopy articles and book passages and share them with department heads.
"I'm very giving, very caring, very controlling, very observant," Slatky says. "I know what's going on. People cannot tell me a story. I control to teach and work with people."
He misses no opportunity to speak of his love for his family. His three oldest children are recently married Justin (30), college student Sara (19) and high schooler Jacqueline (17). His immediate household now consists of his fiancÃ©, Anita, their daughter, Hannah (7), and Anita's daughter, Michelle (13).
Growing up the second of four children, Slatky says a simple upbringing nurtured a drive for independence.
His parents, a cab driver and a garment district worker, couldn't afford to take the family to ritzy resort destinations like the Catskills and Pocono Mountains. But he wound up there anyway, playing drums with buddies in a rock band. They entertained the privileged at night with tunes by the Doors, Sam and Dave, and Vanilla Fudge. During the days, they'd wait tables.
"We didn't get a lot of money, but we had good times," he recalls.
The same could be said of his 15-year-long gig as a member of the New York Giants' staff. Slatky earned the nickname "Game Day" because he'd join the team one day each week to take photos as plays developed on the field. The images would then be hustled to coaches.
Seeing that high-power environment up close taught him a lot about administration and the push to excel, he says. It's also the reason you'll never find him without his 1987 Super Bowl champions ring.
"I wear it every day," he says. "It keeps my personal drive alive to be the best I can."
1968-1972 - Attends New York Institute of Technology; Serves as Asst. Admin., Park View Nursing Home, Riverdale, NY
1972-1974 - Administrator, Far Rockaway Nursing Home, Queens, NY
1974-1989 - Game-day photographer, New York Giants
1974-1986- Administrator at four various facilities in New York and New Jersey
1986-2005 - Owner/administrator, Waterview Nursing Care Center
2001 – Senior VP/administrator, A. Holly Patterson ECF, Uniondale, NY
2006 – ACHCA national board chairman