6 Questions With...

Dave Deffenbaugh, COO of Saint Anne Home Communities
Sep 1, 2015
Donna Detweiler
Steve Vorderman
6 Questions With...

David Deffenbaugh, COO of Saint Anne Home Communities, has found his niche. Having served in the field of healthcare administration for years, he was drawn to Saint Anne’s nonprofit, faith-based model and joined the team in 2014. 

He and the Saint Anne’s team of healthcare providers function as a family, striving to live out their mission statement: to promote a culture of self-respect and dignity in a Christian atmosphere.

Q1: What do you enjoy most about working at Saint Anne’s?

The mission. I love working in a faith-based community and wouldn’t want to be a healthcare administrator in any other way. A focus on faith and family guides everything that happens here including compliance to state standards in every area of quality. We try to live that missionary spirit with the focus on the needs of residents versus tasks. We have a nice blend of care, faith, compliance and quality. 

The people. Our team members, staff, resident families and, of course, our residents become one big, ever-expanding family. Every day I get to go to work and be around people that are passionate about what they do. 

You can have a building with everything, but unless you have people to bring it to life and run it every day, it’s not worth much. We focus our resources on direct resident care—activities, staffing, resident education and enrichment. We practice taking care of people like you’d want to be taken care of. 

Q2: Your faith is a very important part of your life. How has that played a part in your career?

 

My faith allows me to be more connected with the community here than might otherwise be the case. I can let staff members know I’m praying for them. I can share in a memorial service. Sometimes as an administrator it’s difficult to have human interaction because of business. My faith allows for more touch points.

Q3: What life experience has been most valuable to your career?

When I was 13, my father passed away. I am personally aware of the grief and loss process. And I know it’s important to have a community to lean on. 

Growing up, I spent lots of time with my grandparents. Also, our church had a large older adult population, so I’ve been around elderly people my entire life. It’s natural for me. Since I was young, I’ve known that in some fashion I wanted to be a part of that.

Q4: How do you keep a positive attitude in light of the fact that you deal with end of life issues daily?

In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5 talks about our transfer from
an earthly to heavenly life. It is an honor to be a part of a person’s end of life process. 

The spirit of faith and the family atmosphere here lift people up. For the caregivers left behind, a resident’s passing is a memory that will always be with them. We do our best to provide comfort and care for both the residents and their loved ones. Knowing that the people I work with and our community structure are grounded in faith, resident-centered care and dignity, helps me sleep well at night. It isn’t difficul; I’m grateful to share in this.

Q5: Is it difficult to balance your personal and professional life?

No, because I have a great team. We all view Saint Anne’s as a mission field. Twenty-seven years ago, Mary Haverstick built the culture that exists here. I’ve been able to step in and continue the mission she began and add flavor. We’ve tried to build a community so it runs seamlessly on all shifts and all days. When you know the team has bought into the mission, you can step out. We make sure our people are serving in the right places. Then we try hard to empower our caregivers. We trust them because there is a high level of buy into the mission. 

Q6: What are some of your professional and personal goals?

I’d like to expand my clinical knowledge. Clinical programs are a central part of our quality of life initiative. The better-rounded I am, the better leadership I can provide for my team. Getting an RN or LPN license is on my bucket list.  

I’d like to be part of developing future healthcare leaders—to leave a legacy. I am the director of Student Engagement for the American College of Healthcare Administrators, Indiana Chapter. I’m currently mentoring a young man who recently obtained his administrators license. The population is aging and we need good quality people to lead.


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