January 2020

As an employer in Northeast Ohio, Jennings carries out benefits and practices to help staff members discover their potential and enjoy a positive working environment. In fall 2019, Jennings was recognized for its work as an employer of choice: The Silver Employer of Choice designation from LeadingAge Ohio, The NorthCoast 99 Employer of Choice recognition for the 11th year, and a Special Category Award for Employee Engagement and Development.

In receiving the NorthCoast 99 award on behalf of Jennings, President and CEO Allison Q. Salopeck acknowledged the work of the entire Jennings family and the difference that our staff makes every day. “Each of us is lucky enough to have a career that loves us back each and every day,” she stated.

Jennings received Silver Employer of Choice designation through the 2019-2020 LeadingAge Ohio Employer of Choice Initiative. Jennings was one of only 23 organizations statewide within LeadingAge Ohio’s 400+ members to receive a prestigious Employer of Choice designation. The Jennings team was formally recognized August 27, 2019 at the LeadingAge Ohio Annual Conference and Trade Show. Jennings was also recognized at ERC’s annual NorthCoast 99 event September 11, 2019 at the Hilton Hotel in Cleveland
“We are honored to be recognized with this prestigious award,” said Denise Smudla, Chief Human Resources Officer. “It is a true testament to the dedication and commitment of the leadership and all staff members throughout the organization. We truly have the best staff in the world, and we strive every day to ensure that they know it. We cannot thank them enough.”

Jennings was recognized for the LeadingAge Ohio award in part because the organization systematically creates ongoing effectiveness in organizational leadership through habits, policies and practices that build trust in leadership. Criteria also included encouraging workforce engagement, emphasize transparency in operations, communicate effectively with the organization and individuals within it, and ensure leadership continuity and stability.

“We serve as a training site for local academic organizations and other area professionals,” explained Mrs. Smudla. “We host visitors wishing to replicate design features, equipment choices, safe movement programs, and workforce development models. We create and promote programs that encourage our staff to grow personally and professionally at Jennings.”

Musculoskeletal injuries sustained on the job by healthcare workers are one of the highest among all professions, even more than construction. Jennings introduced the safe movement program in 2006 to prevent injuries that result from moving and assisting residents and patients across all care settings. This equipment – ceiling lifts, fast rising electric beds, and sit to stand lifts – combined with ongoing education and the addition of equipment has made a tangible impact for staff and residents. Jennings is working to install the equipment throughout its entire nursing home, and the second phase was kicked off with funds raised at Jennings’ 2019 Spirit and Splendor event.

The continuing goal of Jennings’ safe movement program is to promote the safety of nursing home residents and staff by reducing injuries related to lifting and transferring. Resident Jean Bersceni advocates “I couldn’t get along without it,” she said. She emphasized that it is a comfortable way for her to move from her bed to a chair, and in comparison to being lifted or using a mobile lift, she feels, “It’s a lot safer.”

The early days of this program were part of a grant and research project that studied the results after just one year. Staff member injuries for lifting and transferring were reduced by 57%, resulting in a 93% reduction in paid worker compensation claims. In addition to the reduction in modified work days, Jennings saved $116, 821 for just one year; its worker’s compensation rate has continued to decline and remains steady. The real story is how this innovative technology impacts a human being: a caregiver.

Jennings’ care partner Wanda Gallardo said that for much of her career, her whole body would hurt after a shift. She said she was amazed when she found out about the equipment: “I thought ‘Wow; this is much better!’ I don’t have to use my back and shoulders the same way, so it feels good at the end of the day.”