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Donahue demonstrates openness as Sunrise Hill Administrator

April 27, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Dan Donahue has a working philosophy: leave your door open for your staff and walk about the very facility you work at. Since February, that philosophy has worked at Sunrise Hill Care Center as he works as the Administrator of the nursing home.

"I like to be out and about, talking with the residents and their family members," Donahue said. "It's all about being hands on and my 'walking about' style."

Donahue, a William Penn graduate and resident of Ankeny, was hired by the care center's board in February, separating himself early in the interview process according to Pat Strife, the Board President.

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"Dan was heads above the rest of applicants and the board members all agreed," Strife said. "He is outgoing, personable and intelligent. We felt like the best person to fit the position."

An administrator since 2003, Donahue actually began his career in mental health before being convinced to pursue his current field by his father.

"My dad was CPA whose company did a lot of cost reports for nursing homes in the state of Iowa," Donahue said. "He led me to check out the career. He would go to their office and they would talk about how hard it was to find administrators."

Donahue has worked in a variety of different nursing homes both large and small across Iowa and even briefly in Minnesota. The reason he stays in the nursing home field remains constant though: the people.

"I enjoy working in this field because of the residents," Donahue said. "Long term care is very regulated and the annual surveys are no fun, but the staff and the residents make it worth it."

While adjusting to the position, Donahue has been pleased with how Sunrise Hill operates and doesn't see any sweeping changes in the near future.

"The last administrator was here for 23 years and did a good job, so there weren't a whole lot of changes necessary to be made," Donahue said. "The board during my interview was focused on trying to reduce temporary staff and hire more of our own CNAs. This area is one I'm looking at the most. We have hired a few CNAs since I started, but we have a lot more to go. We are trying to come up with ideas to attract CNAs from other areas and is definitely a work in progress."

Donahue lives with his family Tammy and has three daughters, including one finishing up third grade in Ankeny. After the school year is over, the Donahues hope to move into Traer. They have been familiar with the "nice, quiet" town since Donahue worked out of Cedar Falls and drove through the community on many occasions. He currently commutes, but the board hopes to see their new administrator continue with them into the future.

"We are very pleased with the job he's done so far and have had tremendous positive response from the staff and the residents," Strife said. "We hope he sticks around with us for a long time to come."



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