Jan. 2, Daniel Miller began his duties as the new CEO/administrator of St. Francis Senior Ministries in Tiffin. He and his family live in the town of Nevada. For the past 18 years, Miller has served as administrator at Fairhaven Community. The Millers' three children attend Upper Sandusky High School.
"I'm very excited to be able to be here. In another way, it feels like coming back home. I went to college here," Miller said.
He was born in Spencerville, but the family moved to Upper Sandusky when Dan was 5 or 6 years old. His father, a United Church of Christ minister, was the chaplain and administrator of Fairhaven for about three years. Miller has pleasant memories of the place.
Daniel Miller, new CEO/administrator at St. Francis Senior Ministries in Tiffin.
"We lived in the parsonage, right on the campus at Fairhaven. As a kid, my sister and I would go over to Fairhaven all the time and do crafts with the residents, visit with them and give them birthday parties," Miller said. "I rode my Big Wheel all around the outside, down the steps and through the halls occasionally."
When Dan was in fourth grade, the family moved to Galion, where his father was pastor of a UCC church. Miller was active with the band and tennis team at Galion High School. He graduated from there and went on to enroll at what then was Heidelberg College to study business administration. He had driven past St. Francis a few times, never realizing he might work there one day.
"In my last semester at Heidelberg, I did an internship at Fairhaven a couple days a week and really fell back in love with it. I remembered it from being a kid there, and my sister, at the time, was the office manager. She did all the billing of residents and all the payroll," Miller said.
After college graduation in 1990, Miller went directly into the administrator-in-training program. He earned his license with United Church Homes, which owns Fairhaven. The company needed an administrator in the Dayton area, so Miller went there for about two years.
"Then I came back to Fairhaven, and I've been their administrator for the past 18 years. I worked a total of 22 years with United Church of Christ," Miller said.
By then, he was ready for a new challenge. Miller said he had met Bob Hauzie and learned of his retirement as CEO/administrator of St. Francis. Miller applied for the job, interviewed with the sisters and felt the faith-based institution was a good fit for him. In addition, he could remain in the family home. For most of January, Hauzie and Miller worked together, which smoothed the leadership transfer.
"One thing I would like to do here is increase our volunteer base. I just really see an opportunity, with all the things that happen on this campus with the daycare children here, the intergenerational programming, the gardens volunteers could be helping some of our residents who are still able to garden to get out and do those things," Miller said.
Students from the two universities in Tiffin already volunteer with various projects on the campus. Miller also would like to have more of them doing internships at St. Francis and recording residents' stories for class projects. Miller has met with some of the leadership team at Mercy Tiffin Hospital to discuss collaboration between the two institutions. The new CEO continues to learn more about the current services and needs at St. Francis and in the surrounding community.
"We're going to be looking at ways to enhance some of the current services we're providing here," Miller said. "They have a strong leadership team here that have been very open and welcoming, very eager to try new things."
Late in 2012, the Sisters of St. Francis announced a partnership with Trinity Senior Living Communities, based in Livonia, Mich. The company was formed when the Sisters of Mercy in Michigan joined forces with the Sisters of Holy Cross in Indiana. Miller actually received training from Trinity and is employed through that company; however, the Sisters of St. Francis still own the Tiffin nursing home and campus.
Miller said Trinity was brought in to guide St. Francis into the new health care system in which the government will pay hospitals and care centers for services. In return, the care providers will have to help align services throughout the entire continuum of a person's stay. Miller said many other institutions also will consult with companies such as Trinity.
Although Trinity is to give the St. Francis board some direction for making changes, the board is to have the final say. Miller said the government also is gathering information and sharing it with health care providers to increase efficiency and cut expenses.
"The government wants us all as a health-care system, all of us combined, to be more efficient and partner together more, and consolidate more," Miller explained. "We're very reliant on government funding. Between Medicaid and Medicare, it is the great majority of our funding here."
For that funding to continue, the facility will have to follow the new rules and regulations. St. Francis is depending on Trinity for consultation and outside resources to put in place an electronic health directory, systems for payroll and accounting, and for support on clinical services. Miller understands changes are necessary for St. Francis to continue its work.
"They've got a 144-year ministry and tradition and history and mission. My goal is helping them to position for another 150 years and leave it in a better position," he said.