Florida Health Care Association recently recognized Jeanette Ortiz, Director of Nursing at Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation Center, as 2020 Nurse Administrator of the Year. The recognition is part of FHCA’s Excellence in Long Term Care Nursing Awards, which are traditionally presented during FHCA’s Nurse Leadership Program. However, due to COVID-19, the Program, along with the Awards Ceremony, has gone virtual. Nonetheless, Jeanette, who was nominated by her former administrator at Lanier Rehabilitation Center (a sister facility of Jacksonville Health and Rehab) was still able to receive her official plaque as celebrations carried on at the Jacksonville care center, surrounded by co-workers and friends.
Having worked in long term care for 30 years, Jeanette has had extensive experience in healthcare. She began her career in 1990, working as a licensed practical nurse in Puerto Rico (PR), where Jeanette later became a registered nurse in 1997. Throughout her time working in PR, she gained training in assisting at various hospitals and hospices. However, it wasn’t until she moved to Florida in 2004 that Jeanette found her true calling – post-acute care.
New to the Jacksonville area, Jeanette began working as a floor nurse at a local rehabilitation hospital. From there, she was promoted to unit manager of the hospital’s Dementia unit. At the time, her administrator referred to Jeanette as the “dementia whisperer” due to her extraordinary ability to interact with residents while others were unable to. Jeanette eventually became Assistant Director of Nursing and later assumed the role as the Director of Nursing at Lanier Rehabilitation Center. Jeanette was recently promoted to Director of Nursing at Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation Center, a sister facility of Lanier operated by Southern Healthcare Management.
As Director of Nursing, Jeanette has had great success in advancing the overall functionality of the center. She was able to push Lanier to the top percentile in various areas while prioritizing the quality of life for long term residents. Jeanette improved the center’s statistics, reducing 30-day hospitalizations from 47% to 15% in just two years. She also shifted resident weight loss from 11.8% to 7.1% and the ability to move independently from 33.3% to 20.7%. Jeanette’s many achievements were accomplished through her partnership with practitioners, focus on residents, and well-supplied staff training.
By her peers, Jeanette is described as both professional and positive in the workplace. Her former supervisor at Lanier, Administrator Jason Kallen, explained that having the experience and education is one thing, but having the innate ability to interact with others how Jeanette can; that really sets her apart. He shares, “On any given day, she can be found offering to buy a soda for a resident, purchasing a meal for them from their native country, or cooking food for one of our team member events.” Jeanette’s impressive commitment to others and compassion for the nursing field makes her well-deserving of this prestigious Nurse Administrator of the Year award. Glen Wright, administrator of Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation Center, also noted that “Jeanette has already put her incredible leadership skills to work at the facility and is continuing those important resident-family-staff connections that are helping to enrich the lives and experiences of the residents.”
The Excellence in Long Term Care Nursing Awards were presented during FHCA’s Virtual Nurse Leadership Program, with FHCA President Marco Carrasco and award sponsor Robin Bleier of RB Health Partners, Inc. honoring these healthcare heroes for their dedication and commitment to quality long term care. Recognition was given to the 2020 Nurse Administrator, RN, LPN, and CNA of the Year, along with the Rising Star in Long Term Care Nursing Award recipient.