Leading with Integrity
The mission of Wauwatosa’s St. Camillus Life Care Community is one of grace, hope, and unwavering commitment to long-term care
The story of how a 17-year-old gambling addict with a bad attitude and a bum leg became the patron saint of the healthcare profession is wondrous. Here’s the short version: Camillus de Lillis fought crippling pain, hellacious poverty, addiction, and anyone who got in his way. Despite it all, his innate affinity for caring for the sick and poor led him to the Roman Catholic faith, and to his creation of a humanitarian effort that began on the battlefield, nursed the desperate and dying through bubonic plague, and whose symbol—a red cross—remains a universal indicator of hope, help, and valor.
The 16th century religious order that grew out of that mission is known today as the Order of Saint Camillus. Just as it was over three centuries ago, today’s organization is dedicated to providing medical care and support to anyone in need of treatment. “The Order of St Camillus believes it is the responsibility of those capable of offering help to do so, even if it means risking their lives or wellbeing,” explained Kevin Schwab, CEO of the senior care community that bears the founder’s name.
Established in 1940 to serve the people of Wauwatosa and southeastern Wisconsin, the St. Camillus life care community provides a comprehensive suite of aging services along a continuum of care. Programs offered at the campus include independent and assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and hospice care. St. Cam, as it is affectionately called, also provides home and community-based services.
The Camillian approach to healthcare transcends the boundaries of organized religion, while at the same time providing spiritual succor to those who seek it. “At St. Camillus, we believe in providing care to all people, providing residents and patients with compassionate and loving care. The holistic approach that we take causes us to nurture the medical, emotional, and spiritual health of everyone we treat,” Schwab noted. “We're not just caring for physical needs, we care for the whole person. Our combination of pastoral and medical education allows us to be very effective in each of those areas.”
The Future of Collaborative Care
Schwab pointed to the need for cross-industry collaboration as one of St. Camillus’s priorities when it comes to shaping the future of senior care. “For St. Camillus and the industry to be successful, we must collaborate with others to better the lives of those we serve. We can't do everything in a vacuum,” he stressed.
“With all the industry changes, increased regulation, reduced reimbursement levels, as well as staffing shortages, we are looking at how we can connect more with educational facilities and other Healthcare systems as well as suppliers to the industry. We need to work more closely together on how we can provide better care.”
Part of the St. Camillus community leadership vision is to become a national force for ongoing positive change in the industry as a whole.
“It's been a strategic focus at St. Camillus to learn how to come together with other long-term care providers, ourselves as well as competitors, and acute care facilities from an educational aspect,” he said. “We all need to come together with shared knowledge, resources, and best practices to limit hospital stays, limit revisits to the hospital after discharge, and learn how we can improve the lives of the people we serve on the physical side and on the holistic side of care. That's our ultimate vision.”
Additionally, encouraging careers in the aging services field and healthcare in general will be critical to ensure that there are enough workers to care for increasing numbers of seniors requiring care. “We have a massive workforce shortage happening in the space, especially within certain positions, and the workforce shortage we see elsewhere is magnified in healthcare,” Schwab opined.
To that end, the organization established a program that funds continuing education for their workers who have been on staff for a year or more so they can become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). “We will put individuals through schooling, train them, use Saint Camillus as a training site, and pay their way to become a CNA,” he revealed.
St. Camillus works with other long-term care facilities and area universities to develop more nurses in the field, including Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and Waukesha County Technical College. “Currently we are working with them to put CNAs through a course to become LPNs,” he noted. “It's also career laddering for those individuals so they have an outcome that is hopefully very positive for everyone involved.
“We're also considering how we can develop a program for LPNs to become RNs. That's currently in the development phase. At the end of the day you have to care for all of your employees just as you care for the individuals that you serve because if you don't, you have a major disconnect. It's really important to do both.”
Preliminary plans are in place to expand St. Camillus’s independent living facilities. A new building will house 169 independent living units, multiple dining venues, a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness center, and theater space for education and cultural events. “There's also a brand new clinic, which is unique for our space,” said Schwab. “It's going to be a great benefit to a lot of people, and ties into our desire to serve our own residents as well as the greater community.”
As with their existing facilities, the proposed development integrates physical, emotional, social, and spiritual care into a comforting and empowering atmosphere. That setting extends into the hearts of the men and women who provide the care and compassion St. Camillus is known for.
“It takes a lot of great people to do what we do in our industry and at St. Camillus, and I believe we have some of the best leaders, managers, and employees at St. Camillus than any other company I know of,” Schwab said. “I'm very proud to call them my colleagues.”
If St. Camillus could place a bet on his Wisconsin namesake to serve with devotion, selflessness, and love, we’re sure he’d win in the best possible way.
St. Camillus Life Plan Community offers a full continuum of services; Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Rehabilitation, Home Care, and Hospice.
Residents of St. Camillus find the campus to be as peaceful or dynamic as they make it. Either way, all residents agree that it’s a comfortable place where they enjoy the care of our wholistic approach to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
The staff provides impeccable service, steeped in the spirit of Saint Camillus de Lellis and inspired by the healing power of Jesus Christ. Their expansive grounds offer a serene and secure environment in which to spend time recuperating, gardening, or just relaxing with friends and family.
St. Camillus offers their high quality services to residents of surrounding communities as well. St. Camillus Home Health services offer local neighbors an opportunity to receive our caring and compassionate service in the comfort of their own homes — along with access to the numerous amenities the St. Camillus campus has to offer.
The facilities at St. Camillus Life Plan Community are truly impressive, but the community of people living and working on this campus is what is extraordinary.
The community is sponsored by the Order of St. Camillus and their mission is evident in our care. The goal to provide a continuum of care serving the entire community holistically, as advocated by Saint Camillus. It’s an effort St. Camillus takes seriously.