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Amy McAtee

Amy McAtee

INDEPENDENCE – Prairie Hills Independence is holding a “drive-thru meet-and-greet” for its new director, Amy McAtee, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14. The public is invited to meet McAtee and drive away with a take ’n bake pizza and a bottle of water. RSVPs to are appreciated.

McAtee is originally from Clarence, Iowa. She became interested in a career in senior living care after tending to her terminally ill grandmother in her home.

“This experience made me realize how important it is to have someone available, always, to help care for our loved ones,” she said.

She started at Prairie Hills Tipton in 2011 as a third-shift resident assistant. Between 2011 and 2014, she worked as a resident assistant on all shifts, covered housekeeping shifts, and worked all positions in the culinary department. In 2015, she transitioned into the assistant director position.

“While in this role, I learned the accounting and operational processes, as well as took on some of the activity director and culinary director duties,” she said. “I was content with my position, but in my first two years, the community had three different directors, and the community lost its touch and homelike atmosphere. So, on a whim, I applied for the director position. In 2017, I began my journey as director at Prairie Hills Tipton.”

McAtee had several new challenges.

“The residents were not happy, staff morale was down, and the building needed a makeover!” she said. “I quickly implemented new processes to lead my team to success. In 2018, we began getting positive feedback from the community. Our residents were happy, we were fully staffed, and met financial goals for the first time in years! In 2019, we won the Iowa Assisted Living Association’s Community Property of the Year.

“Our success didn’t stop there. Since 2018, we continue to have satisfied residents, happy employees, and outstanding quality assurance results. In 2020, I was awarded the Jaybird Senior Living Administrator of the Year award. When the opportunity at Independence came up, I knew I was up for the challenge! I will be splitting my time between Tipton and Independence. We are currently advertising and interviewing for an administrative assistant at the Independence location, and have a strong administrative assistant at the Tipton location.”

McAtee’s greatest passion is for the residents.

“I didn’t know how well I would thrive as the director considering my age, but I absolutely love that the residents feel comfortable coming to me to talk about anything and everything!” she said. “I always tell them that they are my bonus grandmas and grandpas.”

As the director, McAtee is responsible for the general operations of the Prairie Hills communities and providing support to the staff, residents, and families.

“Although I like to believe that I’m good at every aspect of my job, my strengths are public relations, human resources, and accounting. And of course, I LOVE activities with the residents!” she said. “I have spoken with a few of the residents at Indy. They are wanting more BINGO, more ‘happy hour’ and refreshments, and we’ve discussed establishing a gossip group. Ha! I host ‘Coffee with Amy’ every other day at Tipton, and my ‘Gossip Group’ there loves our conversations! If I’m caught up with something else at the time of our scheduled meeting, they will come find me and remind me that it’s always acceptable for the boss to take a coffee break!”

McAtee will also be looking to make a few other changes at the Independence community.

“These changes will benefit the residents, employees, visitors, and the community as a whole,” she said. “I’m a big advocate for memory care. Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases are things that aren’t discussed enough. I plan to implement the Montessori Method with some of our activities and daily tasks. I believe that implementing a dementia education and support group would be beneficial to all.”

McAtee stated that assisted living and memory care are not just for the elderly. She has residents as young as 45 living at the Tipton location. Both locations also accept Elderly Waiver, which is a form of Iowa Medicaid.

“Although I am not from the area, my family is!” said McAtee. “My great-grandma was from Center Point. My dad was even born in Independence. The McAtee name is everywhere and yes, we are all related!”

McAtee’s favorite season is fall.

“I love college football, pumpkin patches, and bonfires!” she said. “I have a nine-year-old daughter, Rylan Jo, who consumes my time while I’m not at work. She loves visiting Prairie Hills and knows most of the residents in Tipton by name.”

The drive-thru meet-and-greet this coming Tuesday was developed due to the current status of the coronavirus. Other visitation guidelines include:

- Visitors must call ahead to schedule

- All visitors and vendors must be screened at the main entrance

- All visitors and vendors must have a valid COVID vaccination record or receive a 15-minute rapid COVID test which is provided by the community

- Visits are allowed in resident apartments

Remember to visit with Amy between 5 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14, at Prairie Hills Independence, located at 505 Enterprise Drive.

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