By Kay Cozad
FORT WAYNE — Twenty-seven years ago Mary Haverstick took the administrative reins of Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and has built a heartfelt legacy that she hopes will endure for years to come. She will be retiring Feb. 7.
“It’s been a great journey. Lots of things have changed through the 27 years I’ve been here. But I still love it,” says Haverstick.
Directing a large staff at a nursing facility such as Saint Anne’s requires a person with sound leadership skills but also a heart for people. Haverstick feels she has both. “It’s not just a job with a paycheck. … It’s a mission. …You have to have a heart for it,” she says.
“I bring compassion, understanding and a willingness to work with anyone who needs anything,” she says, noting that with the exception of skilled nursing care she has assisted staff in all areas of the facility. “I would never ask anyone to do what I wouldn’t do myself,” she says.
Her interest in an administrative vocation in a nursing facility stems, she says, from her own experience with at home care-giving. Her youngest daughter Jennifer is disabled requiring around the clock care. And, she says, her experience caring for her 105-year-old grandmother after she broke her hip years ago helped her realize that services for those needing care and their caregivers were badly needed in the community. “If I can help make a difference at the end of someone’s life and their family can’t help, then that’s what I want to do,” she says.
Saint Anne Home, a nonprofit health care and retirement community, began its mission in 1967 as a three-story nursing center. Over the years three sections of apartments were added to include independent and assisted living quarters. A large memory care floor has also been established on the second floor of the nursing home where residents receive exceptional care.
A relatively new and well-received program, The Courtyard Club at Saint Anne’s, provides adult day services and Saint Anne’s offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational and speech therapies.
According to its website, “Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community offers residents a culture of self-respect and dignity in a Christian atmosphere. Each resident is offered individualized, high quality health care that encourages freedom and independence while preserving their dignity and uniqueness as creations of God.”
Haverstick notes that Saint Anne’s Christian atmosphere “makes a big difference in the feeling throughout the building and the way staff treats the residents.” Catholic Mass and Protestant services are offered regularly there and activities are person-centered. Of the 310 staff members a significant percentage are long-time employees, and that continuity makes all the difference.
Haverstick says of the job she loves so much, “I love the excitement of all of it. No day is ever the same.” But the best part, she admits is “The residents and how I feel that we’ve been able to make a difference in their lives at the end of life. To see their smiles and the staff that works with them and how attentive they are to them. They become like a big family.”
Haverstick has resided in Fort Wayne most of her life with Bob, her husband of 51 years. They have three grown children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. A member of Blackhawk Church in Fort Wayne, Haverstick has enjoyed her working relationship with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
“The board is an advisory board with wonderful members,” says Haverstick. “They are accepting and receiving about what we think Saint Anne’s needs. They are very helpful.” She appreciates Bishop Rhoades’ interest in the facility and his personal visits. “He is very kind,” she says.
Board President Dan Kohnen has known Haverstick since 2007 and says she is strong, decisive and fair. “Mary uses a balanced approach in analyzing the information available to her, enabling her to make informed decisions,” he says, adding that she is also “a passionate individual who puts others’ needs above her own. She cares deeply for our residents and employees. She is genuine and authentic.”
Kohnen continues, “Mary has a passion for helping people succeed and tends to bring out the best in others. Her dedication and commitment to our current and future residents has shown through her willingness to listen and adapt as the needs of the home changed. … She has shown tenacity and determination over the years as she championed the growing demands for various levels of care needs within our community.”
Board member and deacon of the diocese, Deacon Jim Fitzpatrick, who has known Haverstick for 15 years agrees, saying, “Mary has always brought a big heart for the people in her care, not just the residents of the home but her vendors and employees as well.”
Retirement is a hard won prize for Haverstick who admits it is a bittersweet affair. “I’m going to miss this place,” she says. As her husband’s health continues to decline she plans to spend more time with him as well as with her beloved grandchildren and the family’s newest addition, their great grandson. She also hopes to engage in her favorite hobbies that include rubber stamping, gardening and cooking.
Her hope for Saint Anne’s as she leaves in February? “I hope Saint Anne’s continues to be Christian-based, and the person who takes over for me makes it the best it can be. … I’ll leave it in God’s hands and He’ll provide and take care of those that He’s entrusted us with.”
A retirement celebration will be held in Haverstick’s honor at Saint Anne Home on Jan. 31.
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