By MARLENE BOHR
Tim Thornton, now the new owner of his third nursing facility, started his career from the ground up–literally. In 1998, he began by mopping and waxing the floors at Windsor Place Nursing Center in Daingerfield. He now owns that location and two others in Hughes Springs.
Officially taking over on June 1, Thornton purchased his third location, the former Theron Grainger Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hughes Springs. Now renamed Grace Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation, Thornton feels he is in his element operating not one, not two, but three locations in the area including The Springs in Hughes Springs.
“I first began taking some of the residents (at Windsor Place) to their doctor’s appointments,” Thornton said. “Loving the work, I started working in the business office doing payroll and accounts payable. My in-laws owned both nursing homes.”
The Longview native initially had aspirations of becoming a policeman, but as the nursing home business grew on him, he went back to school in 2003 and graduated with a degree in business management from LeTourneau University in Longview. He completed his healthcare training and became certified as a nursing home administrator in 2007. From mopping and waxing floors to the position of administrator and owner, Thornton has not and does not plan to give up personal interaction with the residents and their families.
“I have always enjoyed my work in the nursing home business,” Thornton said. “I really enjoy spending time around the elderly. I love hearing their stories, and I enjoy making sure they are taken care of. I am truly blessed. I never would have dreamed this is what my career would end up as but I sure am glad it has. Providing the best of care to the elderly is an honor.”
In 2013, the opportunity to purchase Windsor Place and The Springs became available. His in-laws, Ted and Jan DeLorme, had owned both locations for years. His father-in-law died in 2010 and Thornton later purchased majority shares in the company.
“I bought Windsor Place and The Springs because I know there is a future in this industry.” he said. “I love surprising people by showing them that not all nursing homes are the same. I take special pride in knowing that God has put me in this position. It is truly an honor when the family members of our residents put their trust in us. Every day I want to do everything possible to give our residents the best day ever.”
Thornton is also committed to improving the performance of his newest acquisition, Grace Hill.
“Theron Grainger (now Grace Hill) is a really nice facility,” he said. “We needed to make some changes in some key positions, but we have those people in place and I am very excited to see what the future holds. There is room for growth and that is what I fully expect. My job is to make sure the facilities are providing good care while we try to manage the ever-changing economics of the healthcare system.”
All three nursing homes offer a variety of care that includes 24-hour skilled nursing care, physical, occupational and speech therapies; daily activities; social services; church and chaplain services; WanderGuard System; respite care; and providing transportation to and from doctor appointments.
Windsor Place has 70 employees and is licensed for 117 beds. The Springs has 55 employees and is licensed for 60 beds. Grace Hill’s staff is at 35 employees and growing and is licensed for 69 beds.
Thornton said his employees are really a team.
“I am blessed to have so many good people that work for me, so many that are not pigeon-holed into a particular job description, but that are willing to help where there is a need,” he said. “They constantly make me proud.”
Thornton reflected on that initial first few weeks at Grace Hill.
“We had staff from Windsor Place and The Springs coming to make the transition as smooth as possible,” he said. “They weren’t doing it because it was required, but because they wanted it to be smooth and they want our organization to succeed. We are now a family of three nursing homes and our goal is to be the best we can be, and that requires teamwork.”
Thornton also relies on teamwork at home to support his professional efforts. He and his wife Kate have been married for 19 years and have four children: Ethan,18, Emily,16, Abby,12 and Hannah 10. He and his family are members of the HighRidge Church in Longview and Thornton also serves on the school board of the Longview Christian School. When not overseeing the day-to-day demands of three facilities, Thornton volunteers at his church and his children’s school. He also enjoys playing golf.
Thornton admits that owning three facilities comes with a unique set of challenges, but he welcomes the opportunities for what the future holds.
“It can be overwhelming,” he explained. “It’s definitely a lot of responsibility but I’m blessed to have outstanding people who work for me. God has blessed me over and over again. Who knows what 5 years will bring but I hope to be taking care of a lot of wonderful residents at each location.”
Looks like he’s already off to an excellent start.