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Karen Smith earns license, named administrator at Sterling Village
Sterling Village admins grace and smith
John Grace and Karen Smith review information at Sterling Village. Grace is president of GraceTeam and Smith has been named administrator at Sterling Village.

Karen Smith, RN, is using her three-layered background to lead the Sterling Village team as it cares for residents of the long- and short-term-care organization.

Smith, whose family has roots in Rice County, was named interim administrator Jan. 1. The “interim” was removed from her title because she recently earned her state license from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. She passed both state and federal exams.

Sterling Village is the new name of the former Sterling Presbyterian Manor, 204 West Washington; it remains a non-profit entity.

“My experiences in nursing, hospitality and administration are blending nicely,” Smith said. “Since long-term care involves both nursing and hospitality skills, my background in both gives me a unique perspective. They are similar because hospitality and nursing provide services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

“My business background,” she continued, “allows me to tie it all together. I look at everything through a customer-service lens. Customer service and gracious care are always essential for success. And my nursing experience gives me a deep understanding of the care our elders deserve.”

Smith joined Sterling Village in March 2015 and served as quality assurance nurse manager, infection preventionist and healthcare supervisor.

The new full-time administrator announced she is working hand-in-hand with the Topeka-based GraceTeam, which will officially take over management of Sterling Village Aug. 1.

“The GraceTeam focuses on revitalizing small, rural long-term-care properties,” Smith noted. “Resident-centered care always has been, and will continue to be, our focus here at Sterling Village. GraceTeam embraces this philosophy as well.

“We have been here for 60 years and plan to serve Rice County and the surrounding area for many years to come,” she added.

Even though Smith grew up in Colorado, she has strong family ties to Rice County. Her great-great grandparents, T.J. and Sarah Willett, homesteaded the family farm near Alden. Smith’s parents, Kent and Nancy Shuyler, still live there.

“I have other family in Sterling and even though I was raised in Colorado, Kansas has always been our family home.”

Smith’s education includes: a master’s of healthcare leadership from Friends University in Wichita in 2015; bachelor’s degree in hospitality, meeting and travel administration from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1989; and nursing degree from Hutchinson Community College in 2005.

John Grace, president of GraceTeam, said the “legacy of high-quality care was part of his attraction to Sterling Village. The other parts were wonderful community support and a strong staff.

“This team continues to provide quality long-term services. There is strong support from this professional staff and they look forward to expanding and enhancing services.”

Sterling Village will continue to have 45 staff positions. “Not only do these positions benefit the employees and their families, they help support the local economy, school districts and the medical community,” Grace commented.

In addition to a capacity of 45 residents, Sterling Village also offers 12 independent-living cottages.

Services include: in-house physical, occupational and speech therapies; long-term healthcare; independent living; adult daycare; respite stays; and in-house hospice care.

GraceTeam to manage facility

Sterling Village state and federal ratings are part of what drew John Grace to the senior-services organization. The GraceTeam will take over management of Sterling Village Aug. 1 to continue “this extraordinary care,” Grace said.

• Sterling Village has earned the highest five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. During the past five years, it has had a stable rating of 4-5.

• There were zero citations during the health inspections/state survey. The Kansas average is 7.1 citations and the national average is 7.9.

• There were zero citations following fire-safety inspections. The Kansas average is 1.8 and national is 2.9.

• Staffing hours of RNs, LPNs and CNAs are far above the state minimum hours.

• Sterling Village is below state and national averages for infections, antipsychotic drug use, decline in mobility, re-hospitalizations and emergency-room visits. It is at 100 percent on preventive care.