Inside Athena: Tremont Maintenance Director Upholding the Ethics of his Mentor

Inside Athena: Tremont Maintenance Director Upholding the Ethics of his Mentor

WAREHAM, M.A. — When you ask Damian Sutkus what motivates him to perform his job to the best of his abilities, he’ll likely give you a name… David Laasko.

Sutkus joined The Tremont Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center as the maintenance director two years ago. He has owned a construction business for many years and, when he met Laasko, Laasko found him the job at The Tremont.

Laasko was the maintenance director at Cape Regency Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Centerville and served in a regional support role for other Athena-managed centers. He passed away from cancer in 2023 but continues to inspire Sutkus.

“He was a real good mentor,” Sutkus said. “He said, ‘Damian, there’s one thing you have to remember…it’s always about the residents,’ and I just stuck to that.”

The “plethora of knowledge” Laasko gave Sutkus has turned into much success for the center over the past couple of years.

“We’ve done some great things,” he said. “We have zero life safety [tags]. We consistently get back-to-back zero violations with our fire department.”

In fact, the center has been able to reduce its emergency drill time by more than two minutes thanks to trainings with the local fire department and Sutkus at the helm. It’s about staying “on top of the game” as Sutkus puts it.

Reigel (left) and Sutkus (right) by The Tremont sign.

Sutkus and his assistant, Curtis Reigel, oversee the facility and its operations including repairs, working alongside vendors, staying up-to-date with codes, and typical maintenance upgrades.

“We all pull together and strive to work together for one goal which is to have a raised quality of life for everybody here,” he said. “I do like to keep everybody operating. I want to make sure everything is there for [the residents]. If it’s the middle of the night and they need to hit that button, I always make sure it works and that’s part of what we do here.”

He notes he couldn’t do what he does without his team, including Reigel. Reigel and Sutkus actually have a 20-year working relationship and joined The Tremont together.

“There’s nobody I trust more than Curt with this building if I’m not here,” Sutkus said.

Sutkus shares how he wants to change the industry standards and improve the expectations of maintenance in skilled nursing facilities.

“The number one thing is the residents. I like being able to meet their needs, to see them happy,” he said. “I know this is their home and we work diligently to keep everything operating.”

While the transition into healthcare was “scary” at first, he adjusted and is proud of where The Tremont is today.

“I really enjoy working with the residents and making sure they’re all happy and comfortable,” he said.

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June 20, 2024 A Healthier Approach To Caring, Inside Athena