Rhonda O’Dovero Selected as the 2019 AHCA/NCAL Future Leaders Participant

WHCA/WiCAL is pleased to announce that Rhonda O’Dovero, Regional Director of Operations for North Shore, has been chosen to participate in the AHCA/NCAL Future Leaders program. The year-long program is designated for individuals with strong leadership qualities in long-term and post-acute care, and covers the latest theories and practical applications in quality managementcustomer satisfaction, and leadership.

Since 2004, AHCA/NCAL has hosted long-term and post-acute care professionals in the Future Leaders program. Selected participants both demonstrate leadership potential, and represent the interests of both state and national long term care providers. The year-long program kicks off with a two-day symposium — Future Leaders of Long-Term Care in America — held each year in Washington, D.C.

CareConnection interviewed Rhonda on her thoughts on the state of the profession, her career in long-term care, and being WHCA/WiCAL’s nominee to the AHCA/NCAL Future Leaders Program.

Why did you begin working in long-term care?

When I was 16, I picked the rocks in a baseball field for preparation of SNF building. Later that year, Mellen Manor Nursing Home was built.  While in school, it was announced they were looking for nurse aides and I thought to myself, what a great opportunity to help the community and residents. Thirty-one years later, I have been blessed to say that I am working in long-term care to make a difference in quality of life. I have enjoyed every step in the transition and steps set forth to make our resident’s lives the best ever. Being able to not only help the residents, their families and the community is key to reason why I went into long- term care.

What aspects do you love most about your job?

I would have to say the aspects I love most about my position is the ability to spend my time making a difference in quality of care given to our residents. When I enter a facility and a resident welcomes me back to their home, that is what I love. I also love working with a large team of experts that want to make the difference for our residents each day. The staff I am able to work along with each day are able to make our centers and our community with their values, mission and goals the best possible to ensure quality of care.

What are the most important issues facing long-term care?

Two issues that I look at across our organization and the states we serve, is the inadequate reimbursement rate for our Medicaid residents. In the state of Wisconsin the reimbursement rate only covers 70% of the cost of care provided. If something is not done to increase this rate, providers will continue to close and our aging seniors will lose out on resources to support their quality of life. The other challenge we are facing is a staffing crisis across the industry where 1 in 5 caregiver positions are open in the state of Wisconsin. At North Shore we work to combat the crisis by focusing on retention, ensuring our staff is valued, recognizing a job well done, listening and encouraging participation in how we care for our residents. As providers it is difficult to compete with higher paying, often easier, jobs. We need to pay those that provide care to the most vulnerable members of our communities a viable wage.

What specific challenges do you see in caring for a predominantly rural community in Northern Wisconsin?

Staffing is large challenge in our rural community. With rural, local colleges often cancel classes due to small participation. Northshore and our region has been working on providing CNA class in-house for potential C.N.A.’s for recruiting, retention and ensure quality of care to our residents. Another challenge in our rural communities is the availability of provider services. Transportation to and from providers is a large issue in the State and rural communities have further distance between provider and the facility. We work internally in our centers to encourage van drivers, train and utilize our van to assist with these concerns.

Why is engagement in the association so important?

Having the support of the Association behind us as the largest provider of post-acute care in Wisconsin allows us to advocate for our residents, our staff and our industry with confidence. We can position ourselves are being part of the solutions to the challenges that are facing our industry. By working with the Association we have access to collaborate with other provider members as well as legislators to ensure we are moving our industry in the direction that best serves our seniors across the state.

Additional information on the Future Leaders Program…

Background and History:

Since 2004, AHCA/NCAL has hosted Long-Term Care (LTC) professionals in an annual Future Leaders program. The year long program kicks off with a two-day symposium “Future Leaders of Long Term Care in America” held each year in July in Washington, D.C. Selected participants have demonstrated leadership potential and an interest in representing the interests of LTC providers at the state and national levels. The program covers the latest theories and practical applications in quality management, customer satisfaction, and leadership.

Program Goal:

By participating in this program, members of each Future Leaders class will be better prepared to serve in vital roles within AHCA/NCAL and on behalf of the entire profession. By honing their knowledge and leadership skills these future leaders will help to advance quality and promote the profession’s mission of providing the highest quality, resident-centered care for frail, elderly, and disabled Americans.


John Vander Meer, President and CEO of WHCA/WiCAL had the ability nominate one member from Wisconsin to participate in the annual “Future Leaders of Long Term Care in America” program. Candidates will be selected for this professional training and mentorship program, a symposium in Washington, D.C.

Expectations and Requirements:

Those selected to participate in Future Leaders agree to:

  • Attend a three-day training session, which will be held in Washington, D.C.;
  • Complete any assigned reading – typically 4 or 5 books during the year – and be prepared to discuss on conference calls;
  • Participate in a majority of scheduled conference calls and activities, including a graduation event hosted by AHCA/NCAL leadership at the AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo;
  • Demonstrate an interest in working on LTC issues at the national level, which may include participating on AHCA/NCAL workgroups or committees; and
  • Consider active participation in the AHCA PAC and promoting its importance to other members.
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