A perfect fit: New administrator at home at Sunnyside
It may only be three weeks since Blaine Gamst began his duties as the new administrator at Lake Park's Sunnyside Care Center, but he's already starting to feel at ease.
"I know I've only been here a short time, but it's definitely been a good fit," Gamst says. "It feels like home."
A native of Willow River in eastern Minnesota, Gamst now makes his home in Moorhead, where he attended college after being recruited to play hockey at Concordia.
"Hockey is the best sport in the world," Gamst says, though he adds that he enjoys pretty much any type of outdoor or sports activity.
"I love the outdoors -- hunting, fishing, and pretty much all sports," he says.
Gamst says he first became enamored of the Lake Park community during regular trips from Moorhead back to visit his family in eastern Minnesota.
"It's a beautiful setting," he says, adding that he frequently admired the beauty of Lake Park as he was driving along Highway 10.
"I grew up in rural Minnesota, surrounded by lakes, forests and farms," he continues. "This area's a lot like back home -- lots of lakes and trees, and strong farming communities."
Gamst also says he appreciates the support he's received from Ecumen, which oversees the day-to-day operations of the county-owned senior care facility.
"I really felt Ecumen's values and my values were aligned," Gamst says of his reasons for applying for a job at Sunnyside. "When I saw an opportunity opening with Ecumen, it made it an easy decision (to apply)."
Gamst first began looking into a career in health care while he was attending classes at Concordia, and after taking his first class in health care deliveries, he was hooked.
"It was fascinating," Gamst recalls. "Health care is so complex, but it all comes down to people helping people, caring for people.
"Sometimes I think that gets lost in all the debate (over health care issues)."
Before coming to Sunnyside, Gamst worked at Grand Village Care Center in Grand Rapids, Minn., as well as Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, Minn., and was also employed as a direct care provider at Arbor Park, an assisted living facility in Moorhead.
Altogether, he has about three years experience in health care administration. Gamst worked briefly under the guidance of Sunnyside's interim administrator, Tom Opatz, before taking the reins last month.
"He provided me with support and really helped me get up to speed," Gamst says.
"It's been a great transition."
As for his plans for Sunnyside, Gamst says that for now, he just wants to continue building the facility's reputation for quality care.
"We recently received four out of five stars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for overall quality of care," says Gamst. "That's pretty big."
Sunnyside employs a staff of about 80 people to attend the needs of its long-term and short-term residents -- the facility is licensed for 48 beds, and has an average census of about 40 people.
Backed by a leadership team which he says is "very knowledgeable," Gamst's goal at Sunnyside "is to maintain and improve upon that quality of care, and continue to provide the staff training and resources to create a home for the people at Sunnyside."
He also looks forward to becoming "increasingly involved in the community."