By Amber Springer of Gardant Management Solutions

Heritage Woods of Rockford Administrator Jaclyn O’Keefe has been named Administrator of the Year by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL).

This award is part of the NCAL Awards Program, which recognizes exemplary assisted living caregivers. Honorees represent the best of the assisted living profession.

“The common element among this year’s recipients is that they all go out of their way to ensure assisted living residents receive the best care,” said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “Whether supporting team members, offering their personal time, or connecting with family members, Jaclyn inspires those around her, and NCAL is honored to recognize such an exemplary caregiver.”

During her nearly four years as the administrator of Heritage Woods of Rockford, O’Keefe has helped the Illinois assisted living community measurably improve in several areas, including staff retention, annual surveys and resident satisfaction.

O’Keefe is known as a strong leader, constantly empowering her employees to seek professional development while fostering a teamwork atmosphere.

The residents of Heritage Woods regularly give back to the larger Rockford community through book drives, holiday donations, and fundraisers for veterans and students, frequently organized by O’Keefe.

A tireless advocate for residents and the profession, O’Keefe recently led an effort in which hundreds of residents, families and staff wrote letters to their state legislators, encouraging appropriate Medicaid funding.

“I am extremely proud and excited to work with Jacki O’Keefe and to have her lead one of our communities,” said Rod Burkett, CEO of Gardant Management Solutions, the company that manages Heritage Woods. “ Her ability to accomplish so many objectives and reach so many goals, while not diluting the human connection in all that she does is exemplary. This award is well deserved and illustrates the impact and influence she has on countless numbers of residents, families, staff and on our sector as a whole.”

Humbled and honored to receive the award, O’Keefe said she believes she is simply doing what she’s been called to do.

“For almost 20 years, I have been working with seniors, and I believe any accomplishments I receive come from a burning passion to see seniors enjoy the most independent and respectful life possible,” O’Keefe explained. “It has given me such satisfaction to know that what I do every day makes an impact on the lives of our residents and staff. To be recognized for doing something I feel is a privilege and joy is truly remarkable.”

O’Keefe will be honored this fall at the 70th AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo in Orlando.

Earlier this year, two Gardant-managed communities – Heritage Woods of Rockford and John Evans Supportive Living in Pekin – earned the Bronze Commitment to Quality Award through the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program.

The award recognizes long-term care providers that have demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of care for seniors and individuals with disabilities. Heritage Woods efforts were led by O’Keefe and Nicole Anderson, a quality assurance nurse for Rockford and other Gardant-managed communities. John Evans Administrator Melanie Daniels spearheaded the quality assurance project for her community.

Gardant Management Solutions is the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois. It operates more than 40 assisted living, senior living and memory care communities in Chicago and surrounding suburbs, the Metro East area of St. Louis, and other locations in northern, central and southern Illinois.

The company also manages properties in Indiana, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, ranking as the 10th largest provider of assisted living in the country. A community in Washington, D.C. is under development and will open next year.

For more information about Gardant Management Solutions or the assisted living, senior living and memory care communities the company operates, call 1-877-882-1495 toll-free.

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