New director appreciates “human” approach at PMMA
Since taking on the role as Executive Director of Clay Center Presbyterian Manor in February, Amy Hoch Altwegg has found herself filling a number of different roles.
“I had someone tell me that in this role your job is to obtain and allocate resources,” Amy said. “That can be money, people, training, and you’re trying to take those things in and process those things out.”
It sounds simple enough, but it can be a unique dynamic.
“When you’re small like us, you’re always trying to forecast and trying to look from the balcony, and not just the weeds,” Amy explains. “I always try to remember a training I attended before - and ask whether you are on the dance floor, or looking down from the balcony. You can’t just be on the floor, someone has to look from the balcony to see the big picture. But some days we are fighting through the weeds. Some days, we’re working through the dance floor.”
That need to see both the details and the full picture, requires flexibility and adaptability.
“We talk a lot here about how we can’t just see things in black and white,” Amy said. “We are in the people business, not the widget business. Sometimes there are rules and we don’t have a choice. Sometimes we need more information.”
Amy has been working in retirement care since she was a teenager. She’s always worked to remain focused on the humanity of the work - and to remember that everything revolves around people.
“In high school I worked in long-term care,” Amy said. “My mom’s best friend was the office manager in a community, so I didn’t just work there during the summers in high school, I’d go there for fun and help with activities and paperwork.”
In college, she didn’t originally plan to pursue a career in long-term care. But when she saw there was a gerontology club available, she thought it would be an extracurricular activity that would be fun and familiar.
“I changed my major,” Amy said. “I thought maybe I don’t want to move to the city. Maybe I want to do something I could do anywhere, not just corporate law in Chicago. I originally didn’t think this would be my career, then at some point the light bulb goes off.”
Throughout her career Amy has come to appreciate efforts to keep the focus on the people - something she’s found to be particularly refreshing at Presbyterian Manor and PMMA.
“What drew me here was these small-town people we’re taking care of,” Amy said. “These are people we know. People who are community minded. PMMA has a great reputation for doing things the right way. We are taking care of people, and proud of what we do.”
There have been moments in her career when that wasn’t always the case - when the focus was on data and numbers, and some of the humanity of care seemed to be lost.
“We’re a people business,” Amy said. “There isn’t a cookie cutter situation. Everyone has different needs - health, emotional, and family support. Being ready to be there for all of that is important. You can tell the difference in what the morning meeting criteria is - it’s not just facts and numbers. We’re talking about people. When you see that you’re making sure we can take care of people’s needs, and not just some admission number, it’s awesome.”
Much of her enduring motivation to care for people - and to keep the focus on what’s important - is the experience with her grandmother who lived with Amy for a number of years.
“I still have a picture of her on my wall,” Amy said. “She’s a reminder of my why. She’s always looking at me. When you can remember that it’s about family, we remember that it’s important, that we all have to step back and wonder if that was my family, what would I want.”
When Amy’s not focusing on the people she cares about at work, she’s enjoying time with the people she cares about at home.
“Kids and family are our main stuff,” Amy said. “We have two boys who are teenagers, and life revolves around them. My kids are kind of goers and doers - so they have a number of different activities.”
Amy says her family is sporty and outdoorsy. But even though they enjoy different interests, they have enough overlap to fit together. Her children enjoy old cars and signs, her husband enjoys digging for old treasure, and Amy enjoys antique furniture, crafts, and repurposed material.
They also all bleed K-State purple.
“In the fall, we do the football games and the tailgating,” Amy said. “We’ve been season ticket holders before we had kids. I went to K-State, so I’ve got too much purple in me to stop now.”