A new commandant has taken the helm at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.
Mary Hansen began her duties Monday, June 27, overseeing a staff of nearly 900 employees who directly or indirectly provide care for about 670 residents in four residential halls.
“From what I’ve seen, the people here are very committed to working with the members and making sure they have a high quality of care,” Hansen said.
Hansen said she spent much of her first week visiting the halls, speaking with staff and residents.
“I heard a lot of positive words about the staff. The members and their spouses told me that the people who work here are really caring and empathetic,” Hansen said. “The people who work here are committed to the mission of honoring what the veterans have done for our country.”
Hansen has been in the health care field for more than 30 years. She began her career as a licensed registered nurse, then earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Marian College in Fond du Lac.
“My goal was to be in health care administration, to have an opportunity to serve people through a leadership role,” Hansen said. “I returned to school and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the 1980s.”
Prior to coming to the Wisconsin Veterans Home, Hansen has worked as a manager, a director and as a vice president of acute care for the Community Health Network. She worked as the administrator at Berlin Memorial Hospital.
She was previously a member of the Wisconsin Regent’s Advisory Council and later a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives. She has also served on the board of the American Red Cross for East Central Wisconsin.
“I’m a licensed nursing home administrator,” Hansen said, “and I think the Department of Veterans Affairs was seeking someone with that type of credentials.”
Hansen said her focus will be on three areas: quality of care, meeting the needs of members and financial oversight.
“This facility is a crown jewel for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Hansen said. “I think people would be hard-pressed to find a retirement home that offers a similar level of medical and nursing services.”
She noted that the veterans home has a physician who visits ill residents in their rooms and that a physician is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the home provides a full-time dentist, lab and X-ray services, complete eye care and counseling.
“We have 10 nurses who are wound care specialists,” Hansen said. “We offer all-inclusive care and it’s well-organized.”
Hansen said the veterans home also provides opportunities for member input, adding that she attended her first general member council meeting during her first week.
“Their ideas and recommendations help us to address their concerns, find out where we can make improvements and what we are doing right,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the facility’s location is also a highlight of the veterans home.
“It’s such a beautiful, spacious setting – the trees, the lake, the accessibility,” Hansen said. “Members who have scooters or electric wheelchairs can move around the campus.”
Hansen said she also appreciates the volunteer efforts of the area’s veterans organizations.
“They understand what the members here have lived through and really support our mission,” Hansen said.