For 43 years, Debra Finneran, senior vice president of Health Services, has helped to mold and influence the aging care industry. Upon her retirement after 18 years of dedicated service to Masonic Homes Kentucky, Debra leaves a legacy of success and influence in an industry she loves.
Debra sums up the aging care industry very simply, “We are in the people business. We take good care of people.” And, her passion for this purpose has driven her career from when she entered the industry in 1976 after receiving her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Kentucky.
She started her career as the director of Nursing at Meadows East in Louisville in 1976. A unique opportunity to purchase Meadows East and Meadows South presented itself, making Debra one of the first women owner/operators of a long-term care facility in Kentucky. After dedicating much of career to Meadows, Debra sold her two companies in 2002. As her luck would have it, the week Meadows was transitioning ownership, she received a call from Masonic Homes Kentucky. They need an interim administrator at their Shelbyville location. At this time, the Board of Directors were faced with closing the location, or finding an opportunity to purchase licensed beds from another organization so they could grow.
“I was standing in Shelbyville with board members when the options were to close, or to look at buying licensed beds so we could open Masonic Home Shelbyville,” said Debra. “A wonderful thing happened – another facility came for sell, and we opted to buy its licensed beds.”
Noted as one of her career highlights, Debra said, “The Board firmly believed in Shelbyville and they were going to go after it.” And they did with Debra at the helm.
Under Debra’s leadership, Masonic Home Shelbyville achieved 5-star distinction from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the 2010 Facility of the Year from LeadingAge Kentucky and the Silver Quality Award from the American Healthcare Association.
In 2014, Masonic promoted Debra to senior vice president of health services. At Louisville, she worked diligently to improve patient satisfaction and quality. Her commitment to the industry includes serving as regional vice president of the board of directors for the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities (KAHCF), and board member of the Kentucky Board of Nursing, Kentucky Center for Assisted Living and American HealthCare Association.
In turn, her passion and dedication were recognized by both her peers and healthcare organizations. She was selected by her peers as Nursing Home Administrator of the Year, and received the prestigious Ira O. Wallace Award for outstanding leadership and meritorious, unselfish service and dedication to the KAHCF. Most recently, Debra was recognized in Louisville Business First’s 20 People to Know in Health Care issue.
“In my second career, I am sure that I will still be doing something related to senior services because it is so important and meaningful to me. I may be the top bingo caller, who knows. I love getting to know the residents, family and staff. The relationships mean so much to me,” Debra said.