Profile: Stephen L. Esdale - Perfect pitchman for LTC

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Stephen L. Esdale
Stephen L. Esdale

It's early August and Steve Esdale is still on the mend from quadruple bypass surgery. But you wouldn't know it by the way the former rocker is laughing, cracking jokes and generally being positive—per his usual self.

“What it [the surgery] did was it reminded me you have to be an advocate for yourself,” says Esdale, 60. “But also in our business we have to make sure that when families are asking questions, we have to spend the time.”

Esdale, who is board chairman of the American College of Health Care Administrators, is accustomed to relating insights back to the field of long-term care. Working as a nursing home administrator is, after all, “one of my favorite things in life.”

He currently leads at Newton Health Care Center, a nearly 200-bed short- and long-term care facility in the Boston area.

One of his core beliefs is interacting with staff.

“I want them to know without them the facility wouldn't be here,” says Esdale, who is known to his staff of 205 as “Mr. Steve.”

The former high school teacher feels perhaps most strongly about education—whether it is teaching certified nurse aides customer service or training a supervisor.

“We have a culture that is sometimes too quick to blame,” he notes.

Esdale, who has served on boards throughout his career, could be considered a perfect fit for ACHCA, whose objective is to educate long-term care administrators. He is known for his commitment and dedication, assert longtime friends and colleagues in the field.

“He understands the seriousness of the issues we deal with on a daily basis … but he is always someone who tries to find a lighter side in terms of what we are dealing with and tries to bring some levity to some often tense situations,” explains Ned Morse, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

Having fun may be Esdale's creed.  During the late 1960s and 70s, the former church choir boy was a singer in “Minus One,” a popular band in New England.

“I was the good looking one,” he quips.

He says he also knew and played with the likes of Chuck Berry, The Guess Who and Sha Na Na.

It was the births of his three children, Jessica, 29, Stephen, 28, and Daniel, 23, that set him on a different path. They were preemies and asthmatics. Suddenly, the adulation of thousands of fans didn't seem so important, he notes.

When a friend who owned six nursing homes was looking for an administrator, Esdale made the leap. Later he ended up as senior vice president of the company and  ran all of The Flatley Company facilities. Esdale spent 16 years with the firm.

Today, he performs karaoke from time and to time, and he'll also take out his inner rocker for an association fundraiser if needed.

But to Esdale, who has been married to his wife, Gloria, for 39 years, there's nothing more fun than knowing short-term care residents have been raving about the care they received, seeing employees satisfied or receiving a compliment from a family member of a resident.

“Hearing those things on a regular basis, what more could you ask for?” he says.



Receives B.A. and teaching certificate in secondary education from Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA

Becomes assistant administrator at Parkwell Healthcare, a part of The Flatley Company, Hyde Park, MA

Named administrator of Charlwell House (Flatley), Norwood, MA

Promoted to senior vice president of The Flatley Company. Operates six long-term care facilities

Serves as vice president of Centennial HealthCare, which bought Flatley's six facilities

Works as administrator of Newton Health Care Center, Newton, MA

Begins second term as board chairman of the American College of Health Care Administrators