Coffee Break with Tim Lukenda, President and CEO,

Extendicare Health Services Inc.
111 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee, WI 53203
Industry: Long-term care
Number of employees: 20,000
Family:  “I am happily married to Mary-Lynne with three great kids, ages 16, 12 and 11.”

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

“We emphasized getting back to basics by focusing on our core business and addressing the things within our control, like being as efficient as possible and reducing unnecessary expenses.”

What’s new at your company?

“We have several new centers opening in 2009/2010, including two new centers in Summit – one, a 60- bed assisted living center, and the other, a 100-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. These state-of-the-art health centers in Summit will add over 200 team members to our Wisconsin area.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

“We continue to selectively grow and reinvest in our 260+ health centers located across 12 states in the United States as well as four provinces in Canada. We typically allocate over $40 million in revenue for capital improvements such as new technology, upgraded equipment, structural renovations, etc. We are constantly looking for talented and knowledgeable individuals who demonstrate our core values of dignity, pride, respect, integrity, responsiveness and compassion.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“Our main challenge will be adapting and responding to the health care reform initiatives being introduced in Washington. While we believe that health care reform is important to ensure the viability of the health care system into the future, we do not accept that seniors should have to bear the brunt of huge funding cuts to pay for these initiatives. The Obama administration recently imposed cuts of at least $12 billion to nursing home care for seniors and people with disabilities. The pending House health care reform bill proposes additional Medicare cuts of $32 billion. Adequate Medicare reimbursement is necessary to offset the significant underfunding of Medicaid and help close the gap between the cost of care and the reimbursement for that care. Achieving sweeping health care reform, which will improve the health of every American, is an admirable vision and one that we applaud. Yet, protecting vulnerable seniors in the process must always remain a non-negotiable element of reform from which we must not compromise.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“The hottest trend in our profession is a desire by our customers to live in a more residential (non-institutional) environment and to receive more complex clinical services that are of the highest quality. Our customers expect more amenities, enhanced dining services and state-of-the-art technologies, along with involvement in the care they receive and choices in their daily living. In addition, we are seeing a trend in an increase of short-term stays versus long-term. More people are coming to us for rehabilitation and care after a surgery or accident and move on to recover and go back home.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“Our mantra is, ‘helping people live better.’ We believe this expression captures the essence of our mission which is to meet and exceed the needs of our customers as individuals and to help them achieve both a quality of care and quality of life that will enable them to live life to its fullest.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“I have been fortunate to have many professional role models, but none greater than my father who introduced me to the long-term care industry as a child and who adhered to the principle that, ‘if you take care of the customer, everything else will take care of itself.'”

What was the best advice you ever received?

“Other than as stated above, the best advice I ever received is to do what you love, and to love what you do.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I love being involved in my kid’s activities and try to coach or encourage whenever possible. I have three very active children involved in hockey, figure skating, basketball, soccer, football, etc.”

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