BRATTLEBORO — Thompson House recently appointed a longtime nursing home administrator as its interim executive director as it prepares to find a permanent leader.
For the past 14 years, Dane Rank was the administrator.
“Thompson House has been a model caring facility for local citizens for decades,” stated Dr. Ron Veenema, board president, in a statement announcing Judy Morton’s hiring. “The residents and families who have called Thompson House their home in recent years have known Dane Rank for his compassion and his devotion to caring for each person and every family. We wish him well as he pursues the next chapter in his life.”
Morton comes most recently from Genesis, which manages senior living facilities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Before Genesis, Morton spent 11 years at Bennington Health and Rehab and another 11 years at Mountain View in Rutland. She lives in Arlington.
“I have been a nursing home administrator since 1984,” she said.
Morton, who grew up in Vermont, lived in California until 1994, when she and her husband, a Navy man, returned to the Green Mountain State.
Veenema said Thompson House is fortunate to have such an experienced administrator step in as the board starts the process of finding a permanent hire.
“As far as the nursing home and operations and how to best take care of our residents, I feel pretty comfortable with that part of the equation,” said Morton.
Most of the residents at Thompson House are in their 80s, though one just celebrated her 103rd birthday, and most need some level of professional care.
“During the height of the pandemic, it was hard because there was so much isolation,” said Veenema. “We did not have visitors.”
Veenema said the staff performed admirably throughout those times.
Anyone visiting the facility is required to take a rapid test, and employees either have to be vaccinated or submit to testing twice a week.
Morton said the more than 70 employees at Thompson House include licensed nursing assistants, licensed and registered nurses, physical occupational and rehabilitation therapists, housekeeping and laundry.
Thompson House’s medical director, Dr. Jennifer Funaioli-Sheehan, is also on staff at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, as is the assistant medical director, Kari Dickey.
Veenema said both doctors make regular rounds at Thompson House, which is a nonprofit facility.
Funding for Thompson House comes from an endowment from the Thomas Thompson Trust, grants, donations, and Medicare and Medicaid.
Morton said one of the hardest parts of operating a care facility is finding staff members.
“That’s probably the No. 1 administrator’s concern, making sure that we have adequate staffing,” she said.
One way to keep ahead of the demand for trained staff is working with the Community College of Vermont’s nursing program, said Morton.
“We have a group of nursing assistant students right now,” she said. “They’re doing their training here. We hope to be able to entice them to stay here.”
Morton said having a new administrator coming in can be “a little nerve wracking” for staff.
“I want to make sure that they’re feeling comfortable and supported and have what they need to provide good care,” she said.
Morton said she plans to stay at Thompson House as long as she’s needed.
“That is a very comfortable feeling,” said Veenema. “Because we can work on getting the right person and do it right.”