The award is presented by the Florida Health Care Association each year.
When last year's hurricane hit, Theresa Finn knew she had a responsibility for the patients and staff at the Port Orange Nursing and Rehab Center where she worked.
She packed a few of her belongings, brought along her dog and spent days at the center helping her team keep everything running as the storm blew through.
It was this kind of dedication in her profession as a registered nurse that won Finn the statewide Nurse Administrator of the Year award by the Florida Health Care Association. She was recognized for this honor during the association’s 2018 Long Term Care Excellence in Nursing Awards.
Southern Healthcare Management Regional Clinical Director Mary Buffkin, who nominated Finn, wrote in her nomination letter that Finn "knows every resident and staff member in her center personally. The facility has a 5-star rating, with 5 stars in quality measures — which directly relates to her leadership style.”
Finn's journey to working at the center, where she is the director of nursing, started when she was in high school in New York. She was a part of a class called 'science for service' where students volunteered at a local hospital. While working in that environment, Finn knew that this was a future she could see herself.
"It's something you have your whole life," Finn said.
Fast forward to the present year and Finn has been an RN for more than 30 years with work in the hospital, veterans nursing home and now long-term care, which she first went into when she moved to Florida in 2007.
But it was when she walked through the Port Orange Nursing and Rehab Center doors that she knew she was home.
"You just know," Finn said. "When I was interviewed, I said, 'there is no one that wants to work here more than I do."
Finn has now been at the center for eight years and is responsible for instructing nurses, several of whom have moved up from an LPN to an RN in the past year. In addition to her leadership role, Finn also strives to take care of each patient's individual needs. Each morning, she is part of a meeting to discuss where every patient is at.
Part of Finn's job is to also make rounds visiting those patients and letting them know her open-door policy if they need help with anything.
Another reason Finn received the award was the amount of time she spends at the center. She takes calls 24-7, which means if her phone rings in the middle of the night, she is up. That usually means her husband is up as well, but because he is also a nurse Finn said he understands her schedule and that they "speak the same language."
Day to day, Finn said she enjoys teaching the nurses and communicating with the families. She also sees a need in Florida for taking care of both skilled nursing patients, those who are usually being worked with after surgery, and long-term patients. It was an area of healthcare that she decided she wanted to be in when she moved to the area and one she plans to continue being a part of even longer.
"I have a great nursing team and I would be happy if we all stayed here together," Finn said. "For the future, I don't see myself going anywhere else."