Nursing home CEO continues family businessWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
Lisa Mitchell liked to hang around with the older crowd when she was growing up.
“I remember every single weekend going to the nursing home with my dad and always asking my friends to come, but they never wanted to, Mitchell said.
“Most of my friends were 90 years old,” she said, laughing.
Mitchell’s early exposure to the family business influenced her decision to stay in the Toledo area, eventually becoming president and CEO of Swanton Health Care & Retirement Center in 1994.
“I grew up wanting to do that,” said 46-year-old Mitchell. “Both my brother and I worked at my father’s first facility that he owned. I was a kid growing up in the facility — I am not sure I ever drew a paycheck from my father’s first nursing home.”
In 1964, her father, Cecil Mitchell, established his first nursing care residence, Eastview Nursing Home in Oregon. He continued the care started in that first facility for four decades by owning and managing several facilities in Northwest Ohio. After attempting retirement, he built Swanton Health Care & Retirement Center in 1985.
“My father was a true entrepreneur,” Mitchell said. “He had a high school education and he was incredibly successful in a variety of businesses.”
Mitchell graduated from Rogers High School in 1979 and attended UT, although she never graduated because working in the family business became critical to her. She formally started working for Swanton Health Care & Retirement in 1987.
“I decided to stay in the area for my family and the family business,” Mitchell said. “You can’t easily pick this business up and transfer it to another location. It was important to continue with what my father started.”
Swanton Health Care & Retirement Center is one of the last family owned and independently owned skilled nursing facilities in Northwest Ohio, according to Mitchell. Projected revenue for 2008 is $5.4 million.
When the assisted living was first built in 1989, it was the second in Fulton County to offer that service at that time. In 1994, the assisted living was converted to nursing facility beds and a new assisted living, and additional nursing facility beds were built. In 1996, the center became Medicare-certified, making it a skilled nursing facility.
Mitchell said people appreciate working with local owners. Her brother, Scott Mitchell, is an owner, as well as facilities director.
“We are on site, six, seven days a week,” she said. “We are always accessible by phone; we know our residents.”
Becky Ziviski, chief financial officer for Swanton Health Care & Retirement, has worked for the Mitchells for five years.
“Lisa has a bigger heart than anyone I know,” said Ziviski, in a statement. “She listens intently to staff concerns and doesn’t just come up with a solution, she utilizes as many resources as she can to come up with the best possible solution.
“She is open-minded, kind, but stern and a very hard worker. She sometimes works at our facility seven days per week. I’m sure she always works seven days per week because if she isn’t physically in our facility, she is thinking about it and how to improve it and resolve issues,” Ziviski said.
Mitchell’s black lab, Judge, is also popular among staff and residents.
“He is a gentle giant,” Mitchell said. “He has been coming to work with me for four years old. The residents love him.”
Mitchell and her longtime boyfriend, Phil Barbosa, live in Toledo. Their home is an old bank building just outside of Downtown, which they renovated. Mitchell is proud of her commitment to the region.
“We have tried to invest personally and professionally in Northwest Ohio,” she said.