Monica Castaneda’s decision to go into health care was born long ago from a personal experience in her early years. “Growing up I saw my grandmother in a skilled-care facility, and my eyes were opened to how elderly patients were treated. I made it my mission to go into health care to change that,” she says. In pursuit of her mission, Monica studied speech therapy in college, interning at one of the biggest hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley, where she assisted in the accreditation of excellence for an in-patient rehab facility. It was there that she realized that to enact real and lasting change for a vulnerable patient population, she was going to have to lead facilities herself. Today, that’s exactly what she’s doing. Monica is the health care senior administrator of a 67-bed facility in Austin, Texas, which specializes in geriatric psychiatric care. With a commitment to both the finances and the people, Monica ensures the facility—and the people in them—thrive.
With six years of experience in the health care field, Monica is charged with overseeing the overall operations of the Austin facility, ensuring the facility is in compliance with regulatory and safety standards while excelling in the overall quality of care in the facility and revenue. With people at the core of her work, Monica makes sure that the staff as well as the families of patients feel safe and welcomed. “I have found that when one spends the time to ensure that patients, staff, and families are happy and feel cared for, the facility will never fail,” she says.
The power of Monica’s skill in the business of health care facilities and her commitment to the people they serve was illustrated early in her career as the CEO of a 47-bed, long-term acute-care (LTAC) facility in Humble. She walked into the hospital teetering on bankruptcy. With a background in skilled nursing care, Monica had no experience in LTAC accreditation standards, however she committed all her time to learning them while figuring out how and why the LTAC was not thriving. With strict dedication to quality of care, within three months, Monica “flipped” the hospital, tripling its revenue, and transforming it into a facility with a waiting list of patients. “I worked with different skilled nursing facilities, hospice groups and home health agencies on ways they were able to work together, increase their referral base and quality metrics and eventually changed the overall perception of the building.”
Monica brings that same powerful combination and dedication to her current leadership role at her current facility. “By ensuring that quality of care is superb, we’re able to meet the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) metrics, so when residents have a selection of facilities they want to go to, they see that we’re a five-star facility,” she explains. “With quality of care comes census growth because patients are our number one marketers when they leave our doors.” she says. Getting high marks from CMS and maintaining a low rate of return-to-acute (RTA) also means that her facility gets more referrals from healthcare entities and managed care contracts. Since Monica has experience in almost all healthcare settings, she uses her knowledge to grow and retain patient census while improving quality and facility finances.
Monica sets herself apart from other administrators because she’s not only interested in the numbers and the finances, she’s also deeply involved with the patients. “I truly care about the patients, so I’m on the floor with the staff and the residents, and the families all have my number. It just speaks volumes in terms of the care that I expect in the facility,” she says. “The physicians, the patients, the staff, are all pleased and enjoy their work. We’re all here with the common purpose of taking care of our patients, and I’m part of that. Patient care is our priority—for all of us.”
In addition, Monica has opened a skilled nursing facility specializing in ventilator care and oversaw a facility she was able to get contracted with a national television show. She also spends her time responding to emergency situations as a cadre to an organization specializing in emergency response. Monica’s mission is to not only make a difference, but a lasting impact in healthcare and in the lives of every patient she meets.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Baylor University, Monica is currently finishing her MBA/MHA at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Health Care Senior Admin — Psychiatric Facility