Administrator enjoying position

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Kim Salmi, the new administrator of the Houghton County Medical Care Facility, is seen at her desk Friday afternoon.

HANCOCK — The Houghton County Medical Care Facility’s new administrator described her first month as “absolutely wonderful.”

“Coming into a position with a construction project that’s 70 percent done and catching up, everybody’s been very supportive,” said Kim Salmi, who became administrator in mid-December. “I can’t say that enough. I’m honored to be here.”

Salmi came to the Medical Care Facility from the Lighthouse in Hancock, where she worked for two-and-a-half years, starting as director of nursing and working as administrator from April to September.

Salmi said she liked the idea of working for the county.

“I started my career off as an Army nurse, and I enjoyed serving soldiers and their family, and this goes along the same line in the public sector as being able to serve the residents of the county,” she said. “There’s a lot of support here — support in the community, support from staff members, support from residents, support from the board.”

The facility is undergoing an $8.5 million construction and renovation project. Along with the physical changes to the building, there is also a cultural shift, Salmi said.

Salmi said employees are being trained in the “Eden alternative,” an organizational philosophy for elder care based on ideals such as adding more variety to daily life in the facility and residents more decision-making authority.

“Instead of being focused on our job, we’re focused on the resident and what we need to do as part of our job description to make their life better,” Salmi said.

Instituting those changes takes conversations between departments,

Last week, Salmi showed employees a video on how the Eden philosophy worked at a similar-size facility. That can include facility pets, to replicate a home feel; serving coffee at mealtime to make a more interactive process; and freshening up resident activities — “to shift that ‘We’re coming to work’ attitude and instead, ‘This is where our residents live, and we just happen to work in their home,'” she said.

Salmi became interested in health care during college, when she joined the Army Reserves. Part of her training was a general medical orientation, where she learned how to take basic vital signs and reuses wounds.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” she said. “So I thought, ‘Well, I think i want to go into health care.’ I liked that aspect of it. Through the Army Reserve training, I was able to choose my career.”

After the Army Reserves and Reserve Officer Training Corps, Salmi joined the Army. She spent six-and-a-half years in the Army, including service in Germany and Ft. Belvoir near Washington, D.C.

“I would recommend it,” she said. “It was a great experience for a young nurse.”

Originally from Indiana, Salmi moved to the area in 2004 with her husband, an Upper Peninsula native who she met in the military.

She worked in acute hospital care, then took another position as director of nursing at a long-term care facility.

“I think in long-term care, you have the ability to make more of a difference in more people’s lives than I felt I made in the other settings,” she said.