Team Highlight: Interview with Director of Therapy at Absolut Care Aurora Park, Lorraine Mueller

Lorrie Mueller is the Director of Therapy at Absolut Care East Aurora location. She’s been in the Long-Term Care industry for 20 years. She’s held multiple leadership positions throughout her career as well as taught at D’Youville in Buffalo, NY. 

In this interview, Lorraine shares what it’s like leading Absolut Care’s 40 staff therapists and how her passion for helping others drove her to join the Absolut team. 

 

Q: When did you start working for Absolut Care?

I’ve been at Absolut Care for two years. 

Q: What drew you to the Long-Term Care industry? 

When I started out in mental health, I had the opportunity to work in a Geriatric Unit. That’s where I fell in love with it and have been in the industry now for 18 years. 

I love the variety of Subacute Long-Term Care. Most people think that long term means you mainly work with people over 80 years old but really it’s a wide variety. 

I work with people from 21 years of age to 108. No matter how old they are, it’s amazing to see the progress of individuals who come in barely being able to walk to then sending them home fully functioning. 

Q: Can you share a patient success story? 

Our approach to patient care is discovering what motivates our patients. 

We had a stroke patient come in who couldn’t speak or move his right side. We started working with him and his wife, incorporating her into therapy treatments. Outside of therapy, we had a special dinner where I made his favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs.  

He’s Italian so I was worried he would want an authentic meal. But turns out, he liked it! 

After 7 months, the patient had retained almost all of his motor skills and was able to speak again. He shortly returned home to his wife, happier and healthier.  She still contacts me until this day. 

Whether it’s including the spouse in their therapy or simply accommodating their favorite meals, impacting someone’s life that way is so rewarding. 

Q: What does a typical day look like for you? 

My day consists of organizing our 40 staff therapists schedules and supporting therapists throughout their day to provide optimal care to our patients. 

Q: What is your favorite part about what you do? 

Mentoring and coaching our therapists brings me a lot of satisfaction. Not only do they become better at what they do, but our patients continually receive high-quality care because of it. 

Q: Can you share an example of someone you helped mentor? 

I worked with a Speech Therapist who wanted to become an Assistant Director. I was able to mentor her to help her gain the position. It was incredible seeing her grow and become a leader. 

That’s really what we’re about here, is helping each other grow so we can provide the best possible care to our patients. 

Q: Do you have a role model that influenced your success?

Yes, I’ve been fortunate to have two amazing women to guide me throughout the last 20 years. Both really took me under their wing. 

My first mentor, Tara Thompson really pushed me out of my comfort zone where some days I’d go home and cry. 

If it wasn’t for her, if she didn’t push me and see something in me,  I wouldn’t have been in the multiple leadership positions I’ve held throughout the years such as Assistant Director of Therapy, Rehab Director, and Regional Director where I oversaw five to six buildings at one time. 

She even came to work with me later at Absolut Care per diem. 

My other mentor who influenced me is Chris Sage, VP of Rehabilitation at D’Youville College. She gave me a lot of research projects and motivated me to teach as a professor at  D’Youville University  – something I never saw myself doing.  I was able to teach at the college level because of her. This is why I like to give back to the therapists – because I know how important it really is.

Q: What’s your leadership style? 

Being in a management position I make it a point to lead by example. 

I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. When I ask my staff to do something, they know I’m going to be right there with them when they do it. 

I’m always challenging our staff to know the why behind things.  I teach them to treat others the way they want to be treated. 

It’s all about creating the culture and environment where people can thrive. 

I always say, “Happy therapists, happy patients.”

Q: What’s one fun fact about you? 

I’m obsessed with office supplies. I love different color post-its, markers, and highlighters. I’m an organizational freak. 

Q: What are you looking forward to in the future at Absolut Care? 

I’m really excited about the new ownership and how they’re really moving everything forward. I’m also looking forward to moving past the bad times of the pandemic and building the rest of my career with Absolut. 

We’re all looking forward to what we can do for our community and our patients, and all the changes to come. This community deserves it. 

 

About Absolut Care

Absolut Care provides quality long-term care, subacute rehabilitation, memory care and respite care for short-term stays.  Absolut Care prides itself on a highly committed team of highly-trained medical professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, and excellent leadership to deliver quality care to its residents and patients.