When the long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) profession sees a leader retire, it is an occasion marked by twinges of sadness as the person departing leaves a hole in their organization and the larger profession that has to be filled, and a personality and character that often cannot be replaced.
At the same time, a well-deserved retirement elicits happiness for the retiree, coupled with some measure of jovial envy, as one of the “good ones” will now be able to enjoy a less hectic and pressured life.

For the skilled nursing and assisted living worlds these sentiments engendered by the retirement of a noted leader are being multiplied by two this year with the news that both Van Moore, senior vice president, Westcare Management, and Dan Holdhusen, director of government relations at Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, are formally retiring.

The departures will create a void within their respective companies and an even wider one among the thousands of peers they call friends and who they have worked with through their groundbreaking advocacy work for the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

To say each is well known and admired in the business of caring for the nation’s frail and elderly is an understatement. Moore has made his mark as a leader in the formation of NCAL and the work he has done for veterans, while Holdhusen has been a jack-of-all-trades in executive and advocacy roles that have furthered the cause and mission of LT/PAC providers.

‘Terrific Asset’ in Advocacy Realm

Beyond the acumen each has displayed for their respective organizations, there is the fact that both are admired for the people they are, even more so than for their accomplishments.

“Dan has been a terrific asset to our lobbying efforts,” Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL, tells Provider.

“As a prior CFO [chief financial officer], he has a total understanding of the economics of the sector, and this proved valuable in making our economic case to policymakers. As a leader, I hold him in the highest regard. He is an incredible listener, who absorbs what everyone else is saying, and then pounces at just the right time. He has been invaluable to our efforts, and we will miss him.”

Like Holdhusen, the work Moore has undertaken for the profession triggers only positive sentiments. Scott Tittle, executive director, NCAL, says, “Van’s retirement is well deserved,” noting that for decades Moore has selflessly served the nation’s heroes through the Veterans Care Centers of Oregon, as well as NCAL.

“As a past chair of NCAL, he was instrumental in elevating the prominence of assisted living around the country. You can always count on Van for his thoughtfulness and honesty, which I took advantage of frequently since joining NCAL,” Tittle says.

“We will miss his leadership and expertise, and we wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Missing the People

As others will miss Moore and Holdhusen, it is the same from their end as well. Moore says his colleagues that he will no longer see on a regular basis will be hard to replicate in
retired life.

“I am gong to miss the intellectual stimulation and the friendliness of all my colleagues, not only in my office but in AHCA and in NCAL. I have made a number of dear, lifelong friends, and I am going to unequivocally miss them,” he says.

Holdhusen cites these same relationships as well, saying ties to the people he works with and the work they do is something that transcends everything in life.

“I will miss the collegiality and the satisfaction of knowing at the end of the day we have done our best in terms of making a difference in peoples’ lives, people who need care in their lives,” he says.

Not Out of Reach

Of course with retirement comes the age-old question, what do I do now? For some, this is a mysterious area, but for Holdhusen it is not, as this “final” retirement is not his first or second, but his third attempt at doing so.

“I failed a few times before, the first time 10 years ago in 2009 when I thought I would ride off into the sunset. After a few weeks though, it felt like an extended vacation, and I wanted to be involved again,” he says.

This time things are different, Holdhusen says, stressing that he and his wife plan to travel as they have not been able to do in the past and spend time with family.

“We moved down to the Kansas City metro area 10 years ago and continued to work from that location,” he says. “The reason we moved is that my two sons live in the area, and the youngest one has given us four grandkids. So, we will be doting on them quite a bit and spoiling them.”

For Moore, retirement is a new concept so while he also expects to do his fair share of traveling and spending more time with family, there is the possibility of future work.

“If somebody needs some help, I am willing to do some consulting,” he says. “I have been asked to serve on one board [the Veterans Care Centers of Oregon] and accepted that, so who knows, I may be at a [AHCA/NCAL] convention or two. It is hard to say.”

Veterans Care Centers of Oregon is a nonprofit that operates the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles, Ore., and the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon, Ore. The facilities are skilled nursing facilities for veterans, their spouses, or parents who have lost a child to wartime service.

Moore notes that there is no absolute clean break from the profession for other reasons, given that he will keep some investments in the intellectual/developmental disabilities and assisted living spaces, but have no direct management control.

Proud to the End

It is this area, it is the vets who Moore says have given him the most fulfillment over the years, as well as working in the nonprofit space.

“The nonprofit environment has allowed for some really rewarding times,” he says. There was also being active as NCAL chair when it was being formed. “It was rewarding to hammer out and guide and mold a brand-new organization,” Moore adds.

His attention to vets comes from a lifetime of knowing those who have served, including a father-in-law who served as a hospital chaplain in the Air Force. Willing to serve, Moore could not due to health reasons, but later in life he would help guide Westcare’s management of veterans’ homes in Oregon and restore proper service to their residents.

Issues Dominate

For Holdhusen, his work in recent times as a lobbyist for the LT/PAC profession has kept him squarely focused on keeping pace and ahead of the rapid changes that have occurred, exemplified of late by the switch to a new payment system, the Patient-Driven Payment Model.

“This is a pretty dramatic payment change,” and it is just one that he cites as marking his years in advocacy. Other marked changes include the evolution of lengths of stay, the role of Medicare and Medicaid in long term care, and the explosive growth of assisted living.

For him, the major change that has superseded others is Good Samaritan’s merger with Sanford Health, which combined the acute world with the LT/PAC one.

“It has been a real interesting journey,” Holdhusen says, pointing to the expectation there will be more such combinations in the future.

The same can be said for Moore and Holdhusen, as the interesting journeys each has taken will be part of the story for providers for years to come.