Every cloud has a silver lining, and for Tara Gabel the dark days of having childhood asthma led her to pursue a career in respiratory therapy and serving the elderly as the CEO of Plattsmouth Care and Rehab Center owned by Cottonwood Healthcare.
Gabel started her CEO position with the center Dec. 19. “I’ve been in health care for more than 14 years,” she said.
In her youth, she was raised in the LaVista-Papillion area before her parents moved to Southern Missouri. “I went from a class of 700 students to a class of 42,” she said. “I loved it. It was quieter and slower moving. My dad, Terrance Nastase, still lives in that area.”
Before graduating from high school, she started looking into what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. “I was a bad asthmatic growing up. I was always hospitalized up until about the age of eight,” she said. “I attended a career fair and talked with a respiratory therapist and decided that was what I wanted to do.”
After graduation, Gabel earned an Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care in 2003 from Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, Ark.
“For 14 years, I was a pediatric respiratory therapist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Northern Kansas City,” she said.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management at Bellevue University in August 2014.
Gabel also served as Director of Centralized Admissions for Golden Living in Omaha from 2014 to June 2016. “I managed marketing and business development for 22 skilled nursing facilities in the state of Nebraska. I worked with managed care, Medicare and Medicaid daily. I also worked with all 22 facilities internally on bed management, marketing and clinical capability confidence.”
In addition, Gabel worked as a referral specialist at Fremont Health Behavioral Medicine in Fremont to start up a 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit from July 2016 to December 2016. “It was collaborated with Region 6 Mental Health Services,” she said. “I was involved in marketing, community education and physician engagement projects. I worked progressively with multiple skilled facilities to increase education for inpatient mental health as well as multiple hospital and physicians in the Omaha metro and rural areas.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Gabel also worked as an admissions manager at Nebraska Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Omaha from December 2016 to April 2017. “I led all marketing and development for a 20-bed skilled nursing facility. My work included increasing clinical capability confidence in staff as well as bringing in external education. We collaborated with community support as well as establishing relationships with managed care companies.”
At the same time she was an admissions manager, Gabel also continued working as a respiratory therapist for Catholic Health Initiative, a job she continues to hold part-time even now.
After leaving Nebraska Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, Gabel began working as the director of clinical program development for Cottonwood Healthcare, again a position she continues to hold. In this capacity, she develops and leads clinical programming for 22 skilled nursing facilities in the state. “I work directly with all directors of nursing and Chief Executive Officers to increase clinical capability and implement niche programming,” she explained. “…I work in conjunction with the business development team to increase census by improving clinical outcomes. We set up partnerships with community providers and service lines to expand capabilities. I also work directly with business development to market new programming.”
In September, she was promoted to the Interim Chief Executive Officer at Cottonwood Healthcare. Her responsibilities included survey preparedness, QAPI development and implementation, workplace culture improvement, staff development and budget creating and monitoring. “When I got my administrator’s license early in September of 2017, the company used me as an interim administrator at two facilities,” she said.
During the time she worked in sales and marketing, Gabel saw a need for administrators to get involved in the clinical side of health care.
“I thought I could be an asset due to my passion for wanting to take care of the more critical patients – post hospital care,” she said. “I applied here for a full-time position. There is a huge need for healthcare providers to bridge the gap between critical care and the home environment.”
Now as CEO of Plattsmouth Care and Rehab, she currently oversees the care of about 10 critical care patients. Gabel is very impressed with the team leaders at the center.
“The team is very community involved and very active with the residents. It feels like a home when you come in,” she said. “It’s easy for an administrator in this building because we have strong leaders already.”
In addition to long-term care and short-term inpatient rehab, the center has two Alzheimer’s care units including an advance care unit.
No matter how much or how little care a patient needs in the center, Gabel said she is committed to ensuring they receive the best care possible. “I really feel like we owe it to everyone as they get older to provide the best care for them. I feel like I can make a difference and treat them like they should be treated for all their lives due to what they have done in their lives,” she said. “This is their home and I want them treated as you would want to be treated.”