Profile: Work feels just like home
Kay Peruski, Administrator, Courtney Manor
If a Ciena Healthcare Management facility feels especially homelike, it's possibly because of Kay Peruski.
Peruski started her long-term care career in 1986 as a receptionist at the then-Four Seasons Nursing Home. She was regularly promoted and today is a highly regarded administrator at Ciena's Courtney Manor in Bad Axe, MI.
When Ciena adopted “eight best practices” in 2013, six of them had originated at Courtney Manor. Peruski often is called to visit new Ciena buildings to help decorate with knickknacks, or fix up areas such as the beauty shop.
“I love to decorate,” she says. “My facility is very home-like.”
Peruski became Courtney Manor's administrator in 1992, a few years after a supervisor encouraged the high school graduate to earn a nursing home administrator's license.
“It was never a thought on my radar, but Michigan State offers a program, and I signed up,” she says. During the yearlong program, she commuted every Saturday to Brighton, continuing to work full-time while also raising her two sons, Brad and Brian.
“I missed a lot of sports events on Saturdays,” she said of her sons during that time. “But it was a compromise we all made.”
A native of Bad Axe, Peruski's mother was a homemaker and father a mailman. She was the fourth of five children.
“It was just a small-town atmosphere, and you knew everybody,” she says.
That has continued, as Peruski is an integral part of the local community. Family members of residents even call her at home.
“I don't mind it at all,” she says, although “the hardest part is if I fire someone and then I see them in Walmart.”
The community connection also extends to her family: Peruski's mother was a Courtney Manor resident for eight months.
“And that was when I really got to see my staff in action,” she says. “It changes your whole perspective.”
Her husband of 39 years, David, is the town's fire chief. Their sons are also Ciena nursing home administrators. Peruski enjoys spending time with them [as well as her 2-year-old grandson — another grandchild is due in April].
“We network with each other,” she says. “I like seeing young people go into the industry.”
Dan Echler, regional director of operations at Ciena, has known and worked with Peruski since the early '90s and notes that one of her big successes was improving food. Those efforts didn't go unnoticed.
“She's a good egg,” he says. “She's always looking for new ideas and how to make things better. Her efforts in the food services piece are really what got folks to notice Courtney Manor.”
When Peruski, 57, mentors young people, she encourages ethics and personal connections.
“Anyone can look at numbers, but if you do all the other things right, the numbers will take care of themselves,” she says.
It's no secret Peruski has been considered for other promotions. While she said she's been honored, she's always declined, preferring to stay at the manor.
“It's my home,” she says. “It's the contact with the residents and families I would have missed the most. I've been here so long, I'll just move into a room someday.”
Begins work as receptionist at Four Seasons Nursing Center/Courtney Manor
Starts as business office manager at Four Seasons
Graduates from Michigan State University's nursing home administrator program
Becomes administrator at Courtney Manor
Named administrator of the year by the Michigan Dietary Managers Association
Courtney Manor receives Bronze Award from the American Health Care Association
Oversees nursing home groundbreaking for 20-bed addition (set to open June 2014)