Consulate Health Care of New Port Richey, in New Port Richey, FL struck gold when they hired their current executive director, Dan Frenden. In a matter of two years, he managed to turn what was once rated a CMS one-star building into a CMS five-star care center. Reaching a five-star level on its own is an accomplishment, but going from one extreme to the other in such a short time is outstanding. After speaking with Dan, it’s no question why he was able to accomplish this task. He exudes not only energy and tenacity, but passion. He is extremely passionate about serving his residents, his staff, and the people of the community. To Dan, this accomplishment just comes with what he considers to be his “job”, and doing what’s right.
Dan got his start as an interim executive director with another Consulate Health Care center, and eventually worked his way over to New Port Richey in 2014. Upon starting his current role, Dan quickly learned that he couldn’t take anything at “face value”. A poor image is not always what it seems and with hard work and dedication, you can turn anything around and find its greater core. This was the case with New Port Richey and Dan was more than willing to start working there even with knowledge of it needing some improvement. Dan also quickly realized that this journey would not be one he could make on his own. Dan needed a director of nursing, and he did not hesitate when hiring Toni Dudley, who currently holds that position.
Dan had worked with Toni three years prior to bringing her on at New Port Richey, and he knew she was the perfect fit for the role. Toni has been in the healthcare industry for over thirty years and carries the same passion that Dan has. One thing Toni and Dan both knew was that in order for the care center to strengthen, they needed a team that could help them to achieve that. Dan said, “One of the first things we realized we needed to do was establish the staff’s trust and confidence”. Dan knew that by showing his team he intended to stay and “practice what he preached”, he could build a family of people who believed in the place that they work.
One of the first things that Dan and Toni did was show their dedication to their staff by locating themselves within close proximity to the care center. Being able to stay late, or come in early, or even drop by whenever needed, allowed both Dan and Toni the ability to show their commitment to the care center and the team’s needs. Prior to Dan’s arrival, many of the employees felt that their lives did not matter outside of work. Dan made a point to share his personal life and take an interest in the employees’ lives as well. These changes slowly but surely started to build a culture of putting the employees first so that they could put the patients first. This change was crucial in the success of New Port Richey.
When asked what motivated Toni to continue to come to work each day she said, “Dan.” This might seem surprising, but Dan’s devotion to his residents and patients is bar none. Toni went on to tell us that recently a resident who had been there for years, was about to pass away. She had absolutely no family or friends to be at her side. Dan had the nurses call him to let him know when she was close to passing away so that he could sit by her and read her the poems that she had written throughout her life. She said, “Dan takes care of everybody”. Dan refusing to be anything but humble replied, “It’s not a job, it’s who we are”.
Dan said that the Core Value that most represents New Port Richey would be passion. He said, “We’re here to care for people. You’re not just a nurse, you’re a nurse”. The nurses and employees who work with Dan are an integral part in the care center becoming a five-star building. Their own passion and dedication is what allowed Dan to succeed, and he knows that without them he would not have been able to turn the care center around the way that he did. It is important to Dan that we note the village and the team that it took to receive this recognition. Tarena Arroyo, a unit manager who has been with the care center for over fifteen years provided Dan with a wealth of knowledge, and gives it her all each day. Deb Adamas, a restorative aide who has been there for almost thirty years was one of the first employees to step up, and believe in Dan’s vision. The entire nursing team trusted Dan and Toni, and were open and ready to dive right in. The saying “it takes a village” could never ring more true.
Even with this great accomplishment, Dan has no intention to coast or just sit back and enjoy it. In addition to the five-star award, Dan was also recently named the winner of the Eli Pick Leadership award for the second year in a row. Fewer than 9% of facilities nationwide qualify, and Dan is one of 206 administrators who was awarded the facility leadership award nationally. We asked him what goals and achievements he has set for the future and he said, “besides maintaining the five-star, getting the Governor’s Gold Seal”. According to Dan, it’s a very unique award in the state of Florida, and less than 5% of care centers have achieved it. This is the next big thing for Dan and for New Port Richey. Dan believes that “if we take away 50% of the things we could improve on, imagine how great we could become, and the care that we could provide”.
Upon finishing our interview with Dan, there was no question in our minds about why it is that New Port Richey was able to achieve such great success. Not only is Dan a tremendous leader, administrator, and person, but the team he leads is just as passionate and driven as him. Both Dan and Toni provide an example of what it really means to work in healthcare, and we are beyond grateful that they chose Consulate Health Care to share their wisdom and dedication with. Congratulations Dan, Toni, and the New Port Richey team on this incredible accomplishment!