Inside Athena: Maefair’s Administrator Comes With A Passion for Senior Care

Inside Athena: Maefair’s Administrator Comes With A Passion for Senior Care

TRUMBULL, C.T. — Rita Pitter first walked into a nursing home at 18 years old and has never left.

Starting as a C.N.A., her administrator at the time saw something in her. He helped train her and teach her what he could. This year, she celebrates four years as the Administrator at Maefair Health Care Center in Trumbull.

Rita alongside other team members participating in a fundraising event.

“The building is staffed with excellent staff,” she said. “We have some longevity in the family members we serve who also make this building what it is because they entrust us to take care of their loved ones.”

She has had her administrator license since 1998 and connected with Athena at a seminar while working at another nursing home in Stamford. When she first joined the building, she wanted to create a team that shared her vision for patient care. In August of 2023, the center achieved a 5-star CMS rating based on staffing, quality measures, and health inspections.

Members of the Maefair team celebrating their 5-star CMS rating in August, 2023.

“Everybody wants the same outcome,” Pitter said. “I do think that we have employees who have been here for thirty years who strive to do the same thing they were doing the first day they walked through the building.”

She credits the success to the entire team. To get there, she had to make sure there were department heads who shared the vision while encouraging and motivating staff as well as acknowledging their achievements. For example, each week they celebrate a nursing member who does a great job with patient documentation.

“Communication is key, follow-up, making standards and holding staff to the standards that you would like, and I think one of the biggest things is having the staff see you do the same job they do and that you’re not afraid to be a housekeeper, be a C.N.A., that you’re not afraid to go in the dish room and wash dishes. I think them seeing you be that type of leader gives them the understanding that you will do whatever you need to do as an Administrator to get the building running,” Pitter said.

The team and supporting them in their roles is a big emphasis for Pitter to lead a successful facility. In addition to that, she wants the residents to know the captain behind the wheel of the ship.

“I try to make sure that I know all of my residents,” she said. “I do rounds and I check on them daily.”

If she’s not on the floors of the facility, residents will find her. Many have found comfort in her to share any concerns they may have or just have a conversation with a friendly face. She said the fact they have that trust in her gives her a “sense of fulfillment.”

The role comes with its challenges as any nursing home administrator would face like managing patient concerns, family concerns, or employee situations. Pitter said the key is to address in that moment.

Rita and her daughter, Renee.

“Any challenges that we face it’s best to deal with head on and having compassion, whatever it is, to make sure you solve whatever problem you have,” she said. “It’s facing every day with a new perspective and dealing with whatever comes during the day and get it resolved, so at the end of the day you walk out of this building you will say, ‘I did my job today.'”

One highlight of Pitter’s day is working alongside her daughter, Renee Watson. Watson is an Athena Administrator-in-Training and has been working with her mom at Maefair since the summer.

“I think I can feel proud that I’m passing the baton on to my daughter for something that I’ve loved all my life. This is the only job I’ve ever known. I walked into a nursing home when I was 18 as a C.N.A. and I never left,” Pitter said.

Pitter said she wants others to have the same experience she had at her first nursing home job. Her administrator inspired her to give back and introduced her into the career, and she hopes to do the same in return for others.

Pitter has had experience in all sorts of departments across nursing homes during her time in the industry including nursing, maintenance, accounting, and purchasing. She credits her continued education to her team members and what they can teach her. She said, “You have to really vest in yourself.”

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January 11, 2024 A Healthier Approach To Caring, Inside Athena