Retiring administrator looks back on nearly five decades at Evansville Manor
EVANSVILLE—When Clifford Woolever became the first administrator of Evansville Manor, he never planned to stay long.
He figured he would work there for a few years and then return to a career in industrial business.
Woolever will retire next month after 47 years as the first and only administrator of Evansville Manor. The skilled nursing and rehabilitation center has been sold and will get a new administrator in January, he said.
The buyer is Adam Kushnir, owner of Fountain View Care Center and Wolverton Glen Assisted Living, a long-term care facility in Ripon, as well as Grandcare Nursing and Rehab Center in Fond du Lac.
Kushnir's three Wisconsin nursing homes, including Evansville Manor, will operate as a small chain, Woolever said. The nursing homes will share resources but operate independently.
“We're still small potatoes,” Woolever said.
Kushnir confirmed to The Gazette that he bought Evansville Manor, but he was unable to answer additional questions before press time. The Gazette also was unable to immediately reach his vice president of operations.
Woolever said the change in ownership was the catalyst for his retirement. The new owner wants to bring in his own administrator, he said.
“I'm 76 years old, so retirement, sure, that's not a problem for me,” he said. “It's certainly not a forced retirement, but it's a retirement because they want to bring in a person younger and a lot better than me.”
Woolever said he will continue working as acting administrator until January and will serve as a consultant during the transition.
47 YEARS AT THE MANOR
Woolever took the administrator job at Evansville Manor simply because he needed a job.
Before 1971, he worked as a purchasing agent for a large manufacturing company. He left after that job was transferred out of state.
Meanwhile, Evansville was building a community nursing home. Shareholders asked Woolever to take charge as administrator based on his business background, he said.
Woolever believed he was making a difference in his new job. The people he worked with and cared for were what made him stay for 47 years, he said.
“I thought it was much more satisfying to do this than anything else,” Woolever said. “You keep a low profile, and then they forget to fire you.”
Meeting regulations and working with limited funding were the two biggest challenges Woolever faced in his career, he said.
He believes the nursing home industry is one of the most regulated industries in the country. Regulations affect everything from patient care to safety code issues, he said.
“We spend so much time trying to meet regulations, it's hard to devote the time needed to patient care because we're too busy meeting compliance issues,” Woolever said.
Recently, the nursing home had to cut lights off its Christmas tree and string new ones because the original light plug-ins did not meet regulations, Woolever said.
“You need those life safety code issues, don't get me wrong, but they get a little overly protective sometimes,” he said.
He believes it is nearly impossible for small, independent nursing homes to stay in business on their own. State cuts to Medicaid funding have made that even more difficult in recent years.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Woolever has seen nursing homes close in recent years because of a lack of funding. He believes that will continue until there is an access problem for patients.
Home health care and hospice programs allow people to stay in their own homes longer now than ever before, Woolever said. That, along with funding cuts, will contribute to more nursing homes closing.
But no matter what, Woolever believes communities will always need nursing homes.
As for himself, Woolever is not sure what he will do with his time after he retires.
“I'm not a golfer, fisherman, hunter,” he said. “Basically my whole life, other than family, of course, my whole life revolves around my church or nursing homes.”