As a first-year social worker, Roxanne Galloway often lay awake worrying about her future.
Although she had spent many hours in the hospital where her mother worked, her grandparents “aged gracefully,” and she knew little about coping with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
“That first year was a very rough year,” recalls Galloway, who never left long-term care after starting at a 138-bed nursing home in 1977.
“But within a year, I was seeing the positive impact I could have on patients. It became my ministry, my passion,” she adds in her rich Georgia accent.
Today, Galloway is a regional vice president for Ethica Health and Retirement Communities and chairwoman of the 2,500-member American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA). Her mission, she says, is to help young long-term care employees conquer early challenges and commit to a lifetime career.
Her drive starts with her family, which includes husband David Galloway, also an administrator, and sons Rob Leonard, 35; Joshua Leonard, 32; and stepdaughter Ashley Galloway, 21.
Joshua Leonard, vice president of operations for TRISUN Healthcare, prepared for his career by doing odd jobs at his mom’s facilities, which included a summer stripping floors.
“It was always such a positive experience,” he says. “It (nursing home administration) certainly is not a 9-to-5 job or one you leave at the office…. The most important thing Mom taught me is to take care of your people.”
Galloway credits her early turnaround to a director of nursing who took care of her. She showed Galloway her first deceased patient — at peace after a long struggle — and taught her “there are worse things than death.”
After three years in social work, Galloway ventured into administration. She worked at facilities in central Georgia before joining Care More Management as a regional director in Macon, GA.
About 10 years ago, she began working with Scott Edens, who is now a regional president from Ethica and Galloway’s boss. When Edens was tasked with downsizing a facility in advance of a move, Galloway served as a sounding board.
“She allowed me to express my frustrations to her and she helped walk me through them,” Edens says.
He rattles off a list of other co-workers and former administrators-in-training who talk about Galloway’s nurturing management style, even 20 years after working alongside her. Today, Galloway oversees eight centers and an annual budget of more than $50 million.
The doting grandmother of two isn’t slowing down. An avid reader who spends her driving time listening to audio books, Galloway also enjoys cheering on the Auburn University football team.
In her ACHCA position, she says she wants to address the concerns of an aging workforce. She’s championing programs such as the ACHCA Mentoring Initiative, which this year matched 20 novices with experienced members.
“I love the problem-solving part of the job. I’m definitely focused on keeping young people involved in our industry,” she says.
Receives BA degrees in social work and psychology from LaGrange College in Georgia
Takes first job as administrator at Geriatric Health Services in Conyers, GA
Named regional director of operations for Care More Management Co.
Becomes regional vice president after merger with Ethica Health and Retirement Communities; oversees as many as 16 centers
Installed as chairwoman of the American College of Health Care Administrators