Karen Novak demonstrates use of the remote for operating the electric patient beds.

Karen Novak demonstrates use of the remote for operating the electric patient beds.

Plymouth Harbor holds an annual Skills Fair that allows staff to demonstrate competence with nursing skills that are used daily to provide the most optimal care for the residents in the Smith Care Center, Home Health, and Callahan Center.

During the Skills Fair, specific stations are designed to address various topics such as order entry, dietary intake, skin care, transfer techniques, medication administration, lifts, bed alarms, Care Choices, and documentation.  Each staff member is required to complete fourteen stations and assure competence.

“This is an excellent way to keep everyone’s skills sharp and up-to-date on best practices and new equipment,” says Karen Novak, Director of Health Services.  “We have 100% completion with all passing the competency testing at the end.  We are very proud of our staff!”

The Skills Fair is offered annually to all health services staff members.  By the end of the second week, 150 health services employees will have rotated through the Fair.

Nancy Cressotti (Admissions Coordinator) and Monica Copeland (Nursing Supervisor) were present to administer the Electronic Medical Record skills competencies. Von Demosthenes (Clinical Mentor) prepared to discuss and advise on the content and enhancement of nursing documentation.

Nancy Cressotti (Admissions Coordinator) and Monica Copeland (Nursing Supervisor) were present to administer the Electronic Medical Record skills competencies. Von Demosthenes (Clinical Mentor) prepared to discuss and advise on the content and enhancement of nursing documentation.


Joe Devore (Vice President of Health Services), Stacy Baker (Director of Nursing Home Health), Liz Clark (Administrator of Callahan Center and Director of Home Health), and Brandi Burgess (Social Worker) administer the Home safety, transfers, and Advance Directives skills competencies.

Joe Devore (Vice President of Health Services), Stacy Baker (Director of Nursing Home Health), Liz Clark (Administrator of Callahan Center and Director of Home Health), and Brandi Burgess (Social Worker) administer the Home safety, transfers, and Advance Directives skills competencies.

Nurses Melissa Magac (Nursing Supervisor) and Karen Novak demonstrate use of patient lift with Shelia Strahorn (Certified Nursing Assistant).

Nurses Melissa Magac (Nursing Supervisor) and Karen Novak demonstrate use of patient lift with Shelia Strahorn (Certified Nursing Assistant).






Lauren Krause EE of MonthLauren Krause has always been a stand-out employee at Plymouth Harbor, but this month she was nominated by her peers and voted “Employee of the Month” for September 2014.

When she joined joined the Smith Care Center team in December 2001 Lauren worked as a  full time LPN.  In October 2007 she was promoted to Restorative LPN. Of course, we don’t all know what that means, but a quick Google search tells us that a restorative nurse assists patients who are in recovery from a surgery or illness with regaining their health and self-sufficiency.  Smith Care Center serves as a rehabilitation center for many residents and community members recovering from surgery, so Lauren’s specific skills are in demand.

In fact, she not only exceeds standard appraisal ratings for job knowledge, quality of work, decision making and attitude, but she is a tremendous asset to Plymouth Harbor.  Lauren’s expertise continues to enhance the team daily; she is always looking for ways to achieve better outcomes for our residents.

As a detail-oriented professional, Lauren quite resourceful.  Joe Devore, Plymouth Harbor’s Vice President of Health Services, calls her “Go-to Krause” because of her skills in resolving issues and finding solutions.  Everyone recognizes that Lauren’s strength lies in the fact that she knows who and how to pull the resources together to achieve her goal.

A long-time Floridian with two beautiful sons and loving husband, Lauren is a positive, radiant soul, who is well-liked by all.  One of her nomination letters summed it up:

“Lauren is a great team player, willing to go the extra mile to get something done when needed.  Lauren is compassionate with the residents and always has a smile on her face.  She is a great asset to the Plymouth Harbor family.”


By Addie Hurst

CoranThe Corans are a blended family; he has three children and eight grandchildren and she has two children and three grandchildren.  Aubert was born and grew up in St. Louis, MO, and Sandy was born in Brooklyn but spent most of her youth in Trenton, NJ.

They met in Akron, OH, and it was almost love at first sight.  At the time, Sandy worked for non-profit agencies (YMCA, United Way, and a public TV station) and Aubert worked for Monsanto Company as a research scientist.  It was a second marriage for both of them.

During that time he made many contributions in the fields of polymer science and technology.  He was an inventor (over 99 patents) and an author (about 100 scientific papers).   He has won too many prestigious awards and honors to try to enumerate them.  But not satisfied with B.S. and M.S. degrees from St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Aubie went on (37 years later) to earn his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the Universite de Haute Alsace (at Mulhouse,  France) in 1992.  Next, he served as Research Professor, then Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Polymer Engineering of the University of Akron, and then was a consultant until he retired in 2005.

What can we say about Aubie’s inventiveness?  He says he just looks at problems and finds solutions.  Sandy says he finds unusual problems and solutions, because his mind functions in a different sphere.

Besides accompanying Aubie on his many travels, Sandy has spent most of her time volunteering.  Before her heart attack, she spent five years teaching the AARP driver education course at various places in Sarasota.  She also volunteered at the Senior Friendship Center in their physical fitness program.  Now she is eagerly looking around to find a niche where she can do some volunteering here at Plymouth Harbor.

The Corans moved to Plymouth Harbor at the recommendation of several friends who are residents.  They both enjoy bicycling and Sandy participates in water aerobics and exercise classes and looks forward to playing Scrabble.  Aubie enjoys playing tunes on their keyboard and has been chairman of the Restaurant Awareness Committee of the Sarasota-Manatee Gluten Intolerant Support Group.

They already know a lot of people in Plymouth Harbor; they are so friendly and outgoing that they are sure to meet many more.

By Celia Catlett

slaterDr. Irwin Slater comes across as a practical, unassuming man.  When I interviewed him, he emphasized the collaborative nature of scientific research by mentioning the many others involved in his career in pharmacology.  One of the men he worked with at Eli Lilly and Company portrayed Slater’s role a bit more glowingly:  “He discovered the first beta blocker.  Later, he was the senior member of the group that developed  the  antidepressant Prozac, that transformed millions of mentally ill individuals to productive members of our society.”  After his retirement, he served as editor of the journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension from 1980 to 1992.

Irwin was born in New York City.  After gaining a Bachelor of Science at the University of Virginia and his medical degree at New York University in 1941, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  He was on a landing craft during the invasions of Sicily and Salerno.  On leaving the Navy, he finished a residency in internal medicine and briefly went into private practice.  Realizing that research was his central interest, he began to teach pharmacology at the University of Rochester.  Then he went to Indianapolis to work for Eli Lilly as Director of Pharmacological Research.

He and his first wife Virginia had a son David (now retired as a thoracic surgeon), a daughter Abby, three grandchildren, and one great-grandson.  He and Virginia came to Southwest Florida in 1979 to live in Naples.  After her death in 1990, Irwin continued in Naples until 1995, when he moved to Clearwater to be near his companion Harriet, who he also lost.  In 2008 he married Anne (a girl he had known in seventh grade), who was also a scientist and a founder of The Association for Women in Science.

He recently moved with Anne to Sarasota to share space in an assisted living facility.  Upon her death, he came to Plymouth Harbor.  He likes his apartment and the people he has met.  He enjoys bridge — which he plays regularly — and he also joins those of us who try to keep healthy through the Wellness Center activities.

Irwin has spent much of his life caring for people – for family and for the public at large through his research.  We happily welcome him to our caring community here at Plymouth Harbor.


Phil Starr“I very much enjoy serving on the Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board.  My mother lived to be 105 and she left all of her money to charity.  As Chair of the Trustees for her charitable trust, it is my hope that I can do as much good for her charitable interests as she did during her lifetime.”    – Phil Starr, Trustee and Plymouth Harbor Resident


Phil Starr served for 35 years in the insurance industry as a broker in Kansas City, where he earned his CLU designation.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton and an MBA from Wharton.  His long list of volunteer service includes President of the Board of a local private school, the Senior Warden of a Kansas City Episcopal Church, and the President of the Board of the Kansas City Boy Scout Council.  His scouting activities are vast, having earned the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope (for outstanding service to youth), Eagle Scout, and the God and Country award as a youth.

Phil and his wife Barry became Florida residents in 2003 and own a condo at Sands Point on Longboat Key.  They have been residents of Plymouth Harbor since 2011.  As his main hobby, Phil is a videographer, and has produced videos for two major Plymouth Harbor productions of late:  The Stash on the Seventeenth Floor and Broadway and Beyond.  He also produced a beautiful slideshow of the environs of Plymouth Harbor, which he donated to Plymouth Harbor; it now runs outside of the Marketing Department for all to enjoy.


Want to save energy and work on your fitness at the same time?  Perhaps you can use the stairs – not the elevator.  How often do you take the elevator only one floor?  Say, from the ground floor to the lobby or to visit a friend one flight up.  If you have tried the stairs at Plymouth Harbor you have likely seen one of these inspirational signs.




It started last Spring and there are a growing number of residents and staff who are choosing the stairs.  Provided your doctor approves, you can join them. Walking up a flight of stairs each day saves energy, frees up our over-burdened elevators, and firms up your body while burning calories.   Walking down stairs is a high impact activity and for most of us taking the elevator down is a good idea.

How about dusting off that old bike?   To prepare for those stairs, try biking. There are many bicycles gathering dust in the garages.  To prepare for those stairs, ask your doctor if it is okay for you to take short rides around the property.

Many of us, as we get older, are afraid of falling when mounting or dismounting our bicycles.  They now make bikes with the pedals moved forward toward the front wheel.  (They call that changing the geometry of the bicycle.) With that pedal placement you can mount or dismount the bike with both feet firmly on the ground.

If riding a bike is out of the question, how about riding one of the stationary ones in the new Fitness Room?  Opportunities for fitness are all around us.  So get some energy, save some energy and start walking!

There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air as the finishing touches are placed in Plymouth Harbor’s new Wellness Center.   The grand opening, scheduled for September 12th, will highlight the residents who envisioned this Center, the generosity of donors whose financial support made it possible, and the hard work of those who put their hearts, minds, and hands together to bring the vision to life.

It was four years ago that we began to strategically re-define ‘Wellness’ at Plymouth Harbor.  To describe this phase of the journey, we tip our hats with respect and gratitude to residents Lois Droege and Paul Groen.  Lois, with a background in fitness education, taught a popular resident exercise class at Plymouth Harbor for many years.  She and “Dr. Paul,” a retired orthopedic surgeon, were instrumental in helping to develop the plan that would take Plymouth Harbor’s fitness program to a whole new level.

Two things were non-negotiable.  First, the program must meet the highest possible standard for senior fitness programming and, second, the program must be led by someone with the credentials and expertise to develop and maintain it.  Enter Chris Valuck, who was recruited to join the Plymouth Harbor staff as Wellness Director in September 2011.

Chris Valuck and Amanda KirkChris holds a master’s degree in Exercise Science and has spent her career working with a wide range of individuals, mostly seniors, with chronic diseases and disabilities.  She is certified as a Clinical Exercise Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-CES) and a Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist (CWWS) through the National Wellness Institute (NWI).  She also is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and an Aquatic Fitness Professional, Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA).

In addition to excellent credentials, Chris has experience in cardiac rehabilitation at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.  She has also worked in high-end, exclusive health clubs, and operated her own personal training business for 16 years.  Many of Chris’s clients were referrals from physicians familiar with her success in working with persons with chronic diseases and disabilities.

As soon as she arrived, Chris set to work establishing protocols, developing a variety of new classes, and establishing the framework for future program expansion.   Within 18 months, the fitness program had grown to the point that a second staff member was warranted and Amanda Kirk joined the department as Wellness Program Assistant.

Amanda earned her bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science at Coastal Carolina University.  Prior to accepting the position at Plymouth Harbor, Amanda worked at The Lakes at Litchfield, a premier retirement community on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where she regularly taught a variety of classes to all levels of care, including IL, AL, Skilled and Memory Care.  In addition to teaching classes at Plymouth Harbor, Amanda assists with administrative duties and in the development of the employee wellness program.

Another memorable event was a visit in July 2013 by Jan Montague, an internationally recognized expert in the field, who explored the concept of “Whole-Person Wellness” with residents and staff.  In thought-provoking presentations, Jan shared, “Life is a constant journey for balance to stay well, and staying well is really an inside-out endeavor.”  She emphasized that negativity is actually dangerous, and urged all of us to be careful with the words we use when describing our health, as they tend to be self-fulfilling.  In other words, we get what we focus on. 

As the new vision for Wellness and fitness programming was progressing smoothly, a serendipitous visit by resident Joanne Hastings to President/CEO Harry Hobson sparked the next step in this Wellness journey, a beautiful new 10,000 square foot Wellness Center, now completed.

You’ll see as you enter the Wellness Center the Activity Alcove, a lively space in which to exercise, play, and socialize.  It features a ping pong table and a large flat screen TV with an xBox 360 Kinect gaming system for residents to ‘virtually’ play tennis and golf, bowl, dance and engage in other sports.

Continuing down the corridor, you’ll find the Therapy Pool with a freshly refurbished deck.  The pool, frequently used by residents for therapy and mild exercise, has a brand new hydraulic chair lift to assist when entering and exiting the pool.  An added convenience are the bathing suit spinners located in the restrooms across from the Therapy Pool; no need to wear or carry a wet bathing suit back to your apartment!

Next to the Therapy Pool is the re-configured and updated Wood Shop that now includes an exterior door for easy access and delivery of wood and materials. There’s also an adjacent Hobby Shop for residents who enjoy craft work.

You’ll notice along the flowing corridor two perfectly lighted display walls designed to feature resident art work on a rotating basis.  A bit further and you’ll discover The Commons, a beautifully appointed social area with comfortable furnishings, perfect for chatting with friends or taking a break after your workout.  The nearby Creative Wellness Studio provides a private room for health/fitness assessments and confidential consultations with Wellness Center staff.

To the north of The Commons is the spacious Art Studio featuring 20 artist stations, each equipped with a new table and taboret. Enhanced track lighting, studio lighting for artist models, a teaching area, and a dark room complete this creative new space.

Just south of The Commons is the Group Fitness & Dance Studio.  Natural light pours through floor-to-ceiling windows along the entire south wall, offering a spectacular view of Sarasota Bay.  With a cushioned floor, mirrored walls, and an audio system, this handsome studio is the dedicated space for group fitness and dance classes.  With ample space to move, residents will enjoy Line Dancing, Tai Chi, Sit Fit, Functional Fitness, Total Body Challenge, Better Balance, Body Moves, Yoga, Meditation, Feldenkrais Method®, and more.  The more includes Zumba Gold® and ballroom dancing with professional instructor Jim Helmich.

More floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the southwest corner of the Wellness Center, allowing that beautiful bay view to serve as a backdrop for the Fitness Room.  Here you’ll find a wide range of brand new cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, and Nu-Steps.  Also in this space are two special pieces of equipment by Biodex, a UBE (upper body ergometer) suitable for individuals with limited use of their legs, and the Biodex Balance System for individual balance testing and training.  Keiser pneumatic strength training equipment is in place as well. These special (and easy to use) machines are safer and gentler on the joints than traditional weight machines, making them ideal for a senior population.  Many of the exercise pieces are equipped with televisions and ports for tablets, cell phones, MP3 players, readers and other electronic devices to make workouts enjoyable.  Add mirrored walls to help you monitor proper form during workouts, and, we think you’ll agree—this is beyond compare.

The Plymouth Harbor Wellness Center is a physical embodiment of an entire culture of wellness that has taken root and will continue to evolve at Plymouth Harbor. In fact, there’s more in store with VoyAges, an exciting new, wellness-related program – more to come in the near future!