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Gail Ward Named 2014 Nursing Home Administrator of the Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  July 17, 2014                                       
CONTACT: Kristen Knapp, APR                                                                  
(850) 701-3530 or kknapp@fhca.org

Belleair Administrator Recognized for Outstanding Leadership, Quality Care on Behalf of Nursing Home Residents

Tallahassee, FL - More than 700 long term care professionals from across Florida were on hand to applaud Gail Ward, administrator of Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center in Belleair, as she was honored as the 2014 Nursing Home Administrator of the Year by Florida Health Care Association (FHCA). The award, presented to Ward during FHCA’s Annual Conference in Orlando last week, is the highest honor given to nursing home administrators in Florida’s long term care profession.
Gail Ward has more than 27 years of experience working in long term care, and for the last nine years has served as administrator of Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center. She is known for her strong leadership skills and her hands-on approach to the decision-making processes that support the clinical care of her facility’s residents. Her vision and leadership have led to the center being recognized as one of U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Nursing Homes, with a Five-Star Rating from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Morton Plant Rehab is also a recipient of both the Bronze and Silver National Quality Awards from the American Health Care Association, and will continue its steady push toward Gold Award status in the coming year.

“FHCA is pleased to honor Gail Ward with this prestigious award,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed. “She is a role model, a change agent and a relentless advocate for top quality care at the local and statewide levels. In so many ways, she truly embodies the best of our profession and is tremendously deserving of this award.”

The Nursing Home Administrator of the Year Award is given annually by Florida Health Care Association to a nursing home administrator of an FHCA-member facility with demonstrated service to the Association, along with significant and measurable achievements in overall facility administration, workforce innovation, survey record and implementation of quality improvement programs, including the Advancing Excellence campaign and culture change.

Ward recognizes the importance of actively participating in such quality initiatives as the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes Campaign, the INTERACT Program and CMS’ Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program. As a result, Morton Plant Rehab continues to reduce its hospital readmission rates, holds a 90 percent staff retention rate and has an exemplary survey record. These achievements are extremely impressive, particularly given the center’s medically complex service delivery and intense rehabilitation programs.

Ward is active in Florida Health Care Association, having graduated from the FHCA Florida Leaders program and currently serving as the FHCA District V President.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2014, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation which serves nearly 1,000 members and represents over 500 long term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and sub-acute care, short-term rehab, assisted living and other services to the frail elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development and financial stability of its members. As Florida's first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about the Florida Health Care Association, visit http://www.fhca.org.

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