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Nicole Steck-Waitt has been heard saying, “I was put on this earth to serve others” to her colleagues. According to them, she proves that every day.
Before her current position, Steck-Waitt was the director of nursing for ManorCare and Future Care and the senior director of nursing for Future Care in Dundalk, MD. She also was the regional director of clinical operations for Communicare Health Services. In most of these positions, Steck-Waitt was placed in buildings on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Special Focus Facilities list, places deemed to need significant, specific assistance. Now, she is the vice president of clinical services at Sterling Senior Care, a chain of five facilities, based in Silver Spring, MD.
Throughout her career, Steck-Waitt has focused on developing tools and processes that help decrease reliance on antipsychotic medications. For instance, she teamed up with a pharmacist and created a tool that helped analyze the need for such medications for each resident and to find treatments using root cause analysis. The resulting tool now is used across Sterling facilities in Maryland, where they have seen at least a 10% drop in usage of the drugs at most facilities, proponents proudly point out.
Steck-Waitt also has participated in other studies, including one at Johns Hopkins University, and is a volunteer speaker for the state ombudsman program. She also provides real-life case scenarios to enhance the training of ombudsman program members. Among other activities, she was a speaker at the LifeSpan Association’s annual conference and talked about building better relationships with families.
One of Steck-Waitt’s main focuses is helping nurses further their careers. Colleagues note with appreciation that she makes a point of organizing staff members’ schedules around their school schedules and helps them study for exams. Dozens of licensed practical nurses have become registered nurses, and several of them have become nurse practitioners on her watch.
During the pandemic, Steck-Waitt made sure she was doing everything possible to keep residents and staff members safe, so much so that she hired a COVID-19 medical director to help on site. She also created a Facebook page called “Maryland Nursing Home Unite” to create a place for long-term care professionals to share, encourage and update each other.
The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare, and the Roundtable Sponsor is Paycor.