June De Wit | Staff Writer
Spending the last 14 years as a consultant, doing turnarounds or startups for long-term care facilities, John Rainbolt spent the last four years in Texas before he was hired as Pleasant Acres’ administrator. “I’ve been an administrator 21 years,” he said, but has moved a lot. He’s been in 33 nursing homes and is licensed in 10 states. “The intent for me is to be permanent here, to stop the traveling and establish this,” he explained.
Although Rainbolt is ready to move into the community, he’s been living in a motel in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the last month. He began his job at Pleasant Acres May 1 and commutes. He, his wife, Diane, and three of their nine children are looking for a suitable home in Hull.
Coming from the Omaha and Nebraska City area, Rainbolt and his wife have grown children in Nebraska and the Minneapolis areas, so Hull, a central area, will be welcomed. “It’s close to home,” he said. “I like the parks and a lot of places to recreate and not just working.”
At age 16, Rainbolt gave up a newspaper route to become a nurse aide. Although his first day was awful, he didn’t let it define him. Instead, his passion grew while working through nearly every nursing home department toward healthcare administration. “You just have to have a love for people,” he said. He likes rural communities and smaller nursing homes because they make residents and staff feel like a family. Nursing homes have transitioned from medical care into healthcare and are “meant to be home-like,” he explained.
Pleasant Acres, with 60 beds, is about average size. Rainbolt has worked at nursing homes with 24-224 beds. At each facility, he evaluates three things: people, processes and places. “Whatever’s broken, you fix it,” he said. He focuses on getting it working again.
Rainbolt admits Pleasant Acres has some challenges due to earlier mismanagement. But the administrative job and the issues aren’t new to him. “I’m up for a challenge,” he explained. “There’s nothing that we can’t get past,” he said.
“When I do what I do, I do it as unto the Lord,” he explained. “Your passion to serve must always be greater than your compulsion to survive.” He challenges staff to remember why they’re at Pleasant Acres, whether to GET something or to GIVE something. Developing a passionate staff is important. Strengthening the staff orientation process and making small changes to celebrate little successes may be helpful too.
Another of Rainbolt’s goals is for Pleasant Acres to become a highly-skilled go-to facility for specialty care needs other nursing homes can’t handle. “They’re set well to provide some skilled care, higher acuity,” he explained and having a highly-trained staff is attainable.
“I have a big passion for seniors,” Rainbolt said. Disabilities shouldn’t define residents and Rainbolt encourages staff to work together to help residents find their purpose by focusing on what they CAN do, not what they CAN’T.
Negotiating the development of the main east entryway of the facility to match the west addition is another of Rainbolt’s future goals. Taking out a wall, opening it up for more seating in the dining room, adding a covered outside drop-off area, large windows, a fireplace and a sitting area, are some of his ideas.
Relationships are Rainbolt’s favorite part of the job. Good relationships inside and outside the facility are paramount and running a nursing home takes commitment from everyone. “It’s a relationship business,” he said. According to him, Pleasant Acres’ success is attributed to the community — schools, grocery stores, service centers, parts and services are all important ties. “You invest in that somehow,” he said. Investing in the community, makes the community more willing to invest in Pleasant Acres.
Visitors and volunteers contribute to residents’ quality of life. He encourages volunteers to share their skills or interests. He feels they’ll be blessed by sharing.
Pleasant Acres may not be owned by the community but it belongs to them and community involvement is important. “It belongs to Hull and so I kind of see myself as standing in the gap, to motivate and encourage the staff and provide quality care for the people,” Rainbolt said. “The budgets, successes, the employees, everything will take care of itself if you can get that part down.”