From Respect, Came a Journey and a Time to Bloom
“The human beings and organizations we work with shape and steer us to new places, lessons to be learned, growth and the realization of making an important community impact is greater than the mission of self.”– Paul Peshek
Paul embodies the heart and soul of what it means to work in the long-term care industry.
“We often don’t know when we are even on a career path until some time goes past, something guides us. The energy and attraction of what we have stumbled upon takes over and our journey becomes more and more evident as our path as the years keep rolling along. The human beings and organizations we work with shape and steer us to new places, lessons to be learned, growth, and the realization of making an important community impact is greater than the mission of self.”
Paul has always loved and respected our elders. In high school, he volunteered for a Boy Scout project at Oakwood Nursing Home in Madison, WI and that led to him volunteering with the Activity Department. This was the same time that he was looking at his education and what type of major he should select. From his interests, Paul was truly blessed with a focus, and then with the support of his mentors, he discovered the Health Care Administration program at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. They had a major just for people like him!
He completed a yearlong internship with Lincoln Lutheran of Racine after his time on campus and obtained Nursing Home Administrator’s license in 1991. Paul’s first day-time paid position was as an Executive Director of a retirement campus with SNF and AL services in a smaller community in Indiana. After a few years, he came to the Bethesda Campus in Watertown and learned to work with persons with intellectual and physical disabilities as a Shift Supervisor and eventually Unit Leader. It was also during this time Paul became a CNA and for many years after became involved with the Special Olympics of Wisconsin. From Bethesda in Watertown, Paul returned to Lincoln Lutheran of Racine and was ultimately the Executive Director of a 320 bed SNF for a decade while at the same time he became involved volunteering with National Ski Patrol, ultimately becoming an Outdoor Emergency Care Instructor.
“It was at this stage in my path, and I believe most of us that work in long-term care find this at some point, where I reached a dark point. The demands of personal and professional life became so grand that I needed a break, so I headed to the Rocky Mountains to use my Ski Patrol skills. I didn’t know it was a “break” when I pulled out of Wisconsin, I thought I was done for good. In that adventure, I noticed that my soul was feeling empty. Grandpa Paul once said that if your soul is empty, you are not doing what God intended you to do. I needed to come home.”
Paul then joined the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services and worked with Mendota and Winnebago Mental Health Institutes and the States’ three centers for persons with intellectual and physical challenges on a variety of operational and regulatory projects. Little did he know what his next stepping stone would be; a call from the DQA. Paul’s work unit was being disbanded due to re-organization and budget reductions. He was then asked if he would be interested in filling in for a Nursing Home DQA supervisor on leave. That temporary position became a permanent one quickly. “Bloom where you are planted,” another one of Paul’s mentors have often said. So, he decided it was time to bloom.
That led to a decade in the DQA as a state and federal surveyor with nursing homes and centers for persons with intellectual and physical disabilities. He took the courses, passed the federal exams. Then he started as an RFOS in the Madison Region and eventually was the RFOD for Madison, Green Bay, and Milwaukee Regions before becoming the Bureau Director for Nursing Home and Resident Care for the state. He was also the Governor’s appointment to the Nursing Home Examiners Board for Wisconsin for 7 years during this time. “It is hard to capture in words all that was experienced from an emotional and intellectual capacity during this part of my journey in the public sector,” states Paul.
It was during this time he met an extraordinary person, Jeff Hoehn, who is one of our founding partners at North Shore Healthcare.
Paul was recruited from the public sector to become the COO of Revere Healthcare where much focus was placed on Veterans and young adults with life challenges in Illinois. From there Paul was Interim Executive Director for two SNFs in the St. Louis market for Life Care Centers of America before being recruited back to the DQA, this time as an Assisted Living surveyor and RFOD.
“It is important to remain in contact with those that have helped you and supported you throughout a journey. We spend more waking time with our co-workers than we do with our families. The relationships made along the way are amazing. One of those relationships was Jeff Hoehn. We grew close professionally and personally; we had a shared vision for what LTC operations should look and feel like.”
Paul says he and Jeff found themselves willing to share risks to achieve a goal. After several calls, Jeff introduced Paul to Troy Baumann one late summer evening. Jeff and Paul eventually quit their jobs the same day to acquire operations at Minot and Shawano Health Services and North Shore Healthcare was born as a company. Jeff would be Executive Director at Shawano; Paul would be Executive Director at Minot and Troy would be their Central Office. Paul recalls, “We are smart enough to do that! And it worked, for a while. We needed a stronger support center than just us. Jeff came to Glendale to open up the North Shore Healthcare office with Troy and I transferred my life to Shawano Health Services to serve as Executive Director and make Shawano, WI my home.”
North Shore continued to grow in operations over time and with that, so did the level of support they could provide the centers. The role of Vice President of the Customer Experience was his next step for North Shore. After several months, Paul transitioned to helping fill a need at North Shore, which is how Paul became Chief Compliance Officer.
None of this could have been accomplished without the help, guidance, and support of others. “How a path starts and where it takes you is interdependent on the people that surround you and what you feel good in your soul about doing. No matter where you are, I encourage you to do your best and ‘bloom where planted.’ It may be your garden for a season, a decade, or the rest of your career. Remember all the people, all the places. The sadness and the triumphs. For the journey you are on, looking back with enough time, has magically become your path.”