By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Shelley Richardson, the new administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home, made her way up through the ranks to the leadership position she assumed last week and says that she always felt while working as a nurse at the home that someday she would end up occupying the administrator's office.
"I was definitely determined. I even thought that one day I would changing the look of this office by putting up curtains," says Richardson, who has been at the nursing home for 12 years.
She jokes that that she she has been so busy in recent years mastering the knowledge that she needed to qualify as a licensed administrator that she wants to take some time for herself "to read a book I don't have to highlight."
Richardson's comment displayed that same sense of humor that Belknap County Commissioners cited in a press release announcing her appointment, in which they also praised her 35 years of health care experience and the work ethic she has shown in preparing herself to professionally manage a large organization.
She served as administrator in training at the 94-bed facility for a year under the tutelage of Robert Hemenway, interim administrator since the departure of Matthew Logue more than a year ago, and last month earned both state and federal certifications as a licensed nursing home administrator.
Richardson says she has always wanted to work in the health care field and earned her Licensed Nursing Assistant status while still in high school in Lowell, Massachusetts, later working at St. Joseph Hospital in Lowell, for seven to eight years. When she started to raise a family, she ran a family day care center in her home which was licensed for 12 children during the day, and six before and six after school hours.
She's always kept busy and when she and her husband, Clay, moved to New Hampshire she worked in special education at Belmont Elementary School and later at the Taylor Home in Laconia before joining the staff of the nursing home. During that time, she and her husband, who is a builder, built their own home in Meredith while living on the land they had purchased.
Richardson said she was fortunate to be able to take advantage of the county nursing home's tuition reimbursement plan to earn her certification as a registered nurse at Lakes Region Community College while working a split shift at the nursing home. She then went on to earn a bachelor's degree in health care at Granite State College, often traveling to North Conway, Concord and Manchester for her classes.
"I was determined to work my way up. I started in the trenches and now I can see what's needed at every level of the profession," she said.
During her time at the nursing home, she has been a day charge nurse, a unit manager and has expertise in hospital care, long-term care and skilled nursing care. While working as the county's clinical specialist, she completed the administrator-in-training program.
Two of her goals are to bring the reimbursement for education back to the county home so that there is career path for people to advance in the nursing profession and to work with others in the county to find ways to help elderly people stay in their homes longer.
Richardson is also working closely with staff at the nursing home to create a warm and homelike atmosphere by making the corridors more like streets with displays and visual reminders of the communities in the county, as well as special recognition of residents with displays featuring their photos and memorabilia. The nursing home last month held its first annual tree-lighting ceremony with real trees in both of the courtyards and in recent weeks residents have enjoyed seeing the snowmen built in the courtyards by the grandchildren of a maintenance department worker. Residents enjoyed Christmas light tours to New Hampshire Motor Speedway and downtown Laconia.
She said there is a great deal of competition statewide for trained nursing professionals and that the Belknap County Nursing Home is working to provide high quality care as well as the opportunities for advancement that will attract and retain skilled professionals.
County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy said Richardson is a hard worker "who has proven her ability to manage a large organization with professionalism and a great sense of humor. She is a very welcome addition to the county's management team."
Shelley Richardson worked her way up through the ranks to become administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator, second from right, is shown with Teresa Wright, administrative assistant; Kris Mills, billing coordinator, and Carolee Sliker, right, dietary manager. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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