For Patrick Stapleton, CEO of Boston’s 196-bed Sherrill House, hand-delivering newspapers to residents is an investment that can’t be easily measured.
The first 30 to 40 minutes of each workday give him the chance to put eyes on different areas of his 113-year-old nursing home, interact with frontline staff, and — perhaps most importantly — meet short-term rehab residents to suss out their likes and needs.
“It’s providing a little bit of normalcy in a tough time when they’ve been in a hospital for a week and they’re looking at another seven or eight days away from home,” Stapleton says. “Offering a newspaper really opens a door.”
Stapleton, 52, is a bit of a news junkie himself. He usually skims five or six newspapers before heading out on the floor each morning. As a member of Massachusetts’ Nursing Facility Task Force, it’s his job to stay informed.
While this new advising role takes him away from his building more than usual, Stapleton remains committed to his staff of 250. He is increasingly involved in fund-raising — there is an ongoing $7.5 million capital campaign — as an essential part of maintaining notable programs.
“Philanthropy is no longer nice. It’s necessary,” Stapleton says. “In Massachusetts, we’re in what’s commonly being called a crisis, and not just for funding but also for our workforce.”
While many facilities in the state are at risk of closing, Sherrill House has managed to buck some trends, with a four-star staff rating and an average length of service of 11 years for certified nursing assistants, according to Stapleton. One tool that has helped maintain the ranks is a healthy senior CNA pool that recognizes longevity with the opportunity for higher pay and schedules that allow a valued employee to pursue additional education.
Employee loyalty may be a reflection of Stapleton’s dedicated leadership.
“Patrick has a quick, witty and wonderful sense of humor, which makes everyone around him comfortable,” says Richard Bane, president of BaneCare Management, who says employees love that Stapleton knows their names and “the person behind the name.”
When the two men go golfing — a passion for Stapleton — passing members are quick with hellos.
“Not only is he the mayor of his facility, he is the mayor of his world,” Bane says.
Stapleton’s world includes wife, Cathy, whom he met on the first day of college. They’re celebrating 30 years of marriage and have two sons, Patrick Jr., 24, and Jack, 21.
Stapleton also remains committed to his long-term care community, founded by Boston’s landmark Trinity Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. He’s hosted seven administrators-in-training, yet he knows it’s frontline caregiving employees who make satisfied customers want to return for future rehab.
Never is that more evident than when Sherrill House holds rehab reunions, attracting 100 former patients annually to its decorated gym and a garden that has been named the third best in Boston.
“These people are not here to see me. They’re here to see Sean and Khatchik and Aileen and Jamie,” says Stapleton, naming longtime members of his rehabilitation team. “They just remember me as the paperboy.”
Resume: 1989, Earns bachelor of science in sociology at Salem State College; 1994, Earns master of science in health care administration from Simmons College; 1995, Starts administrator’s career with Mariner HealthCare, advancing from site administrator to vice president of operations; 1997, Hired as executive director of Genesis’ Boston Center for Rehabilitation and Subacute Care; 2005, Appointed CEO of Sherrill House; 2012, Starts ongoing term on AHCA’s Not-for-Profit Council; 2019, Appointed to Massachusetts Nursing Home Facility Task Force