CTO Recognition: Todd Burgener, PT, DPT, CBIS, CTO/DOR Paramount Health & Rehabilitation, Salt Lake City, UT

Submitted by Gary McGiven, Therapy Resource, Milestone, Utah

Todd (pictured left with Gary McGiven) has done amazing things as the Therapy leader at Paramount in Salt Lake City. He has grown a team from all PRN employees to a full PT, OT, and SLP staff with an ADC ranging from 45-60. Todd and his team have set the bar in our market for what is possible with long-term care. They have gone from a sub-$5 PNSD to $40+ PNSD. They have some of the happiest residents you will ever see and have some amazing rehab stories. They have also partnered with Nursing and Rec Therapy, providing amazing groups in a time where the socialization that groups bring has been vital to quality of life.

CTO Recognition: Michael Ong, PT, DOR, Legacy Rehabilitation and Living, Keystone West

Submitted by Jon Anderson, DPT, Senior Therapy Resource, Keystone, Texas

When Michael Ong began his studies in the Philippines, he set out on a course to be a surgeon. As he continued his studies and began his internship, he realized that he wanted to provide more hands-on care. He discovered a passion for exercise and patient progression, which he sees as the backbone of physical therapy. Michael started his career in the United States in Florida as a physical therapist. He established core skills and a love for his profession and his patients.


After 11 years in Florida, his job as a travel therapist took him to a position in Amarillo, Texas. Even though he was originally scheduled to be there for only three months, he decided to become a permanent member of the team and took a full-time position under then DOR, Marisa Parker. When Marisa became the executive director of the facility, Michael stepped into the DOR role in September 2019. Hesitant at first, he grew into a true leader. The facility program had already been successful and expectations were high. Michael stepped up to the challenge, seeking out ways to learn everything he could about leading his team. He has been a trailblazer in long-term care programming and frequently leads Keystone West and the top one-third in all Keystone therapy metrics, all while finding new and creative ways to improve patient outcomes.


Michael has worked tirelessly to improve relationships in the Amarillo community and continues to lead the West market in outpatient development. He displays true ownership, leading in the important metric of DOR productivity while continuously providing teachings and trainings to members of his department and their clinical partners. Michael is certified as a wound care specialist, LSVT BIG, Clinical Instructor, and is credentialed in the cutting-edge incontinence program of PTNM. He utilizes all these skills to improve outcomes and develop future leaders on his team. He has embodied CAPLICO in his own facility as well as with our newest West market acquisition, The Medical Lodge of Amarillo, assisting with training and development with the Therapy team. Michael continues to grow and evolve, joining IDT committees to better Keystone, and we are so proud to honor Michael, recognizing him as Chief Therapy Officer! Congratulations, Michael!

CTO Recognition: Katie Kellagher, SLP, DOR, Legend NW Houston, Keystone East

Submitted by Jon Anderson, DPT, Senior Therapy Resource, Keystone, Texas

Soon after graduating from Texas Tech University, Katie started working at one of our Legend Healthcare locations, and shortly after that, Katie stepped into the role of ADOR. Although she was initially hesitant to take the next step into a leadership role, in 2019 the nudging paid off and Katie transitioned into the role as DOR at Legend Oaks Northwest Houston.

Katie is incredibly humble and displays Level 5 leadership qualities; for example, if you give her praise, she will shyly say thank you and credit the success to her team. The demographic of her facility is primarily made up of long-term care residents. Katie quickly realized and embraced the need for creating a therapeutic environment for those residents, building solid relationships with orthotic and wheelchair vendors, and increased her proficiency in understanding PASRR and how valuable access to therapy services can be for that resident population.

Katie has introduced clinical specialty programs in each therapy discipline and has supported the advanced clinical training for members of her Therapy team. Her OT is LSVT Big certified, her PT is trained to perform Percutaneous Tibial Neuromodulation (for urinary incontinence management), and her SLP is trained in the McNeil Dysphagia therapy program (individualized treatment program for patients with dementia). This is only a small share of the clinical program offerings in her facility.

Another area worth mentioning is Katie’s urgency to not allow her team or facility to fall behind the curve. Katie offers outpatient therapy services in-house or at the patient’s home to those in need. She also extends her support to her cluster partners and beyond, playing a vital role in the therapy market initiative about the Power of the Cluster and how to carry out the model. Katie believes and understands the need to grow others around her; this is evident by her invested development of her current ADOR. Katie is also a PDPM champion and serves on the Keystone PDPM committee. Katie’s joy of serving and her passion for leading makes it truly apparent as to why the honor of Chief Therapy Officer is deserved! Congratulations, Katie, and welcome to the club!

CTO Recognition: April Trammell, SLP, DOR, Beacon Harbor, Keystone North

Submitted by Jon Anderson, DPT, Senior Therapy Resource, Keystone, Texas

April Trammell, SLP, DOR, Beacon Harbor, Keystone North
April Trammell transitioned into the Beacon Harbor family with the acquisition in December 2019, leaving her with only three months of “normalcy” to learn our culture and core values before the pandemic started and our health care world completely changed. April took advantage of every moment of those three months, and she was a sponge, soaking up everything she could learn and asking for more. She showed true ownership from day one, asking questions, starting programs, and striving to make the Beacon Harbor Therapy team the best it could be. She embraced their CAPLICO culture and began doing things with and for her staff to illustrate Customer Second and Celebration.


April has been instrumental in Beacon Harbor’s growth to a preferred facility in the area, through programming and putting the facility’s needs before her own. She and her daughter donated their personal bunnies to the facility to help spread some joy during isolation; she has put on other disciplines’ hats when needed to, never saying “That’s not my job,” but instead jumping in ready and willing to help. Any LTC, skilled or outpatient program that has been introduced, April is always one of the first in the North market to try it and share her wins with everyone! One of the amazing things about April is she does not stay in her silo in the facility. She loves to share her ideas with others, to help them experience the same success. During OT week, she shared the positivity flower garden they made, she has consistently shared her group ideas with all of Keystone, and she has presented at DOR meetings on drumming groups and success with interdepartmental communication and culture in the facility. April has assisted with training the staff and DOR at a new acquisition; she identified a need in her cluster and offered a Speech boot camp for anyone who was interested.

In addition to being a culture warrior, April has been instrumental in the financial success at the facility as well. Their long-term care programming is in the top 5 of the market. April manages her costs by maintaining a high therapy productivity, taking advantage of the appropriate use of efficiencies such as group and concurrent, and managing overtime and any other expenses. She is always in the top third of every single therapy metric we measure and continues to ask if there’s anything she can do better, and our clinical outcomes and success stories reflect all of this. April is a true owner and has shown her facility and market what that looks like on a daily basis! Congratulations, April, on joining the elite CTO club!

Therapist Spotlight: Avenlea Gamble

Submitted by Julia Schmutz, PT, Therapy Resource, Northern California

There is something magical about Northern California, the landscape, the misty mornings and warm afternoons, the ageless redwoods, spectacular rugged coastline, the orderly rows of lush grapes and, of course, the people. This is a place that embodies hardiness and resilience. For the best wines, grapevines need a challenge. They love slate and sand and clay and rocky, precipitous hillsides to produce wines of character. In poor soil, the roots have to work harder, “ramifying” or branching out to gather nutrients. This increases to surface area of root to soil and regulates water absorption, and produces better grapes. The redwoods, too, show an amazing picture of resilience, burned out but still standing, majestic and wise. And so, the people who live here reflect the lessons of their environment. Avenlea Gamble is one of those people.

Avenlea is the DOR at Northbrook, a small facility in the northern town of Willits in Northern California. She grew up in this facility, where her mother is the administrator. She has worked there since she was 17 years old and specifically went to school and studied to be an SLP to fill the need in their community. She is one of the most resilient people I have ever had the joy to know. With each challenge she rises up to meet it with a smile and determination. She is unassuming and sees herself as just doing what anyone else would. But ask yourself: Would you be willing to run the kitchen if you didn’t have staffing? Would you step up and cook dinner for your residents twice a week if the need arose? Would you cover for admissions if someone quit?

Besides the challenges of the COVID pandemic, Avenlea has been faced with a multitude of ongoing trials, all of which she has met with grace. She puts it down to her team and facility community who she sees as family. These are deep roots, spread out and well-grounded like the grapes that surround them. Her commitment to serve this small community is unwavering and remarkable. Her foundation is strong and immovable as the redwoods and is built on relationships.

Avenlea is the personification of Herzberg’s theory that for a job to be meaningful, there has to be passion, challenging work, responsivity, personal growth, recognition and meaningful contribution. Hers is a life well-spent from which I am learning much and hope to learn more as I get the privilege of continuing to journey by her side.

Clinical Spotlight: Love My Clinical Partners

By Brooke Stanley OTR/L, DOR, The Terrace at Mt. Ogden/Mt. Ogden Health and Rehab

A partnership is a valuable tool that leads to great success but must be planted, nurtured and maintained to grow. It is vital to any successful organization, building or department. It is giving selflessly. It is serving your partner. It is respecting one another.

I have the great blessing to work with two incredible women, moms, wives, who happen to be the best DONs and clinical partners, Channdra Dabling, the DON at Mt. Ogden Health and Rehab, and Jessica Hawkins, the DON at The Terrace at Mt. Ogden. They are the most selfless, loving women who lead by example. They both care about our staff and residents, as it shows in their quiet actions, not just words. They are humble. They both are not afraid to accept help when asked and ask for help when they need it. They truly lead out of love!

“Great leaders may be found at the top of a mountain looking back upon their challenges, but the greatest leaders are often found at the foot of that mountain still helping others reach that summit.” —Robert Clancy

Jessica is one of those leaders. She steps up, helps quietly, and leads by working side by side. She asks for opportunities to problem-solve difficult patients or situations and values the input from other partners in the building. Most importantly, she leads out with love. If you haven’t had a Jessica hug, you’re missing out!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Channdra is a master of making you feel loved. She is often found in patient rooms, talking with them, getting to know what is important to them. She takes time to truly know her staff. She is patient and kind to all those she comes in contact with. Channdra speaks kindly of difficult patients and families and strives to understand and not make judgements. She makes you feel valued because your concerns are heard. You feel that love anytime you speak with her.

I value the partnership I have with both of these amazing women. I could not lead effectively without them. I value their knowledge, leadership and friendship! They inspire me daily to LOVE and serve.

Celebrating Deanna Rodriguez, DON

Submitted by Kai Williams, Therapy Resource, Keystone East, TX
We love our nurses! They bring so much clinical strength and leadership to our market! We see them tirelessly tending to the needs of patients, providing updates to family members, providing oversight/guidance to their CNAs … the list goes on and on. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to Deanna Rodriguez. Although her cape is invisible, she wears it with such grace and humility.

The clinical journey for Deanna did not happen overnight! She began as a LVN in 2002 and she received her RN in 2010. She found a passion in leadership and developing leaders and became a DON in 2012. She has built her experience throughout the year, and we are so privileged to have her on our team. She currently serves as the DON at the Courtyard. She came in with such a fun and energetic spirit and quickly implemented several clinical systems that have produced extremely positive results at the facility. When COVID entered the facility last year, she was such a rock and solid support to those that she encountered. What is most noticeable is that she extends her support beyond her facility. She is a familiar face in several of her cluster facilities. She takes the time to assist with other facilities’ EMPR, UDAs and Risk Management. She has become a true owner of this process and loves celebrating and empowering accountability.

Take a look at this picture below. Deanna was getting ready to head over to a sister facility to provide support, and her team just couldn’t bear to have her leave. It was a great shot that captured some of her Nursing team, having a little fun, holding her “hostage.”

Recently, Deanna voluntarily stepped up to take the interim DON position at one of her cluster facilities due to the departure of the previous DON. The facility needed clinical leadership, and she stepped up! She has been able to successfully take that facility through full book and a few state pop-up visits. With the support of her partners, she helped them to open their COVID unit, and they have safely accepted patients from other sister facilities as well as the hospital. Deanna has put such a wonderful level of investment into her ADON and nurse partners in her local facility that she is able to physically step away without any clinical disruption occurring. s
Thank you, Deanna, for all you continue to do!

Nhu De Vera, Clinical Systems Resource, Caught on WebEx Camera!

By Deb Bielek, Therapy Resource
It’s been an interesting year as we are all well aware. Because of a significant reduction in travel, in-person meetings have been greatly reduced, with the majority of our meetings being held through Webex, resulting in only one or two opportunities to hug this lady in the past 12 months. I am truly grateful for the virtual meetings where I can see her smiling face and spend time learning and growing from her clinical wisdom. I feel blessed to have an amazing clinical partner, COO Nhu DeVera.


The majority of our work together this year has centered on our Excellence in Programming & Interdisciplinary Care (EPIC) initiative and many additional side-projects, which have spiraled out of a focus on clinical quality initiatives. Not only does Nhu bring a field-driven brilliance and clinical wisdom to our projects, butu she is the definition of a true partner and service-based leader. I originally met Nhu in person in 2018 when Marivic Uychiat, Director of Clinical Services, asked her to join the Service Center team as the Clinical Systems Resource. We served on the Service Center IDT committee together. Nhu helped develop and provide the trainings to support the transitions to PDPM and the new CMS RoPs (Requirements of Participation), which rolled out in 2019. Prior to her current role, Nhu served as the clinical leader alongside Rich Jorgensen and Therapy leader Daisy Aranguren, DOR and Therapy Resource. Thank you for all that you do to make all of us better, Nhu. #Grateful #AmazingCLINCALpartner #NhuROCKS

Recognizing Tamala Sammons, SLP & Super-Resource

By Chad Long, Therapy Resource

As we celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month, I wanted to share a few comments from the field about Tamala Sammons, SLP & Super-Resource. Thank you, Tamala, for your kind heart, wicked smartness and desire to see the best in all of us!

Without Tamala, we wouldn’t have had the success that we have had. Her support and motivation means the world to me! And let’s not forget about those POSTettes — they are incredible tools and resources that make my role easier. Love yau! — Heather Bjernudd, Therapy Resource

Since day 1, I have had Tamala on speed dial when it comes to guidance on regulatory updates, POSTettes, and all things ST. She is always quick to respond and she will do her homework to make sure she is providing the most accurate information. What I love and appreciate the most is that each time I reach out for support, her response is always filled with passion and such joy. — Kai Williams, Therapy Resource

Her passion to develop programs not only in the ST realm, but also to the therapy world, is bar none. We admire her for her relentless pursuit of truly dignifying long-term care. But amidst all that, she is grounded, humble, funny and kind — a true clinician, family person, amazing colleague and a friend.
Happy ST Month, to the one and only, Tamala Sammons!
— Dennis Baloy, Therapy Resource

Tamala was an amazing support for me as a new resource. How does anyone know the answer to everything! A complete wealth of knowledge as well as being easy to talk to — I could be totally honest and vulnerable without concern, always looking forward to our conversations. And then there’s those Postettes… the depth of information in short form is amazing. I didn’t realize how good Tamala was at writing and editing these for any topic until I was on the EPIC committee and we wrote the B&B Postette. Is she sure she’s not a PT and an OT as well? — Shelby Donahoo, Therapy Resource

Tamala has done an amazing job in many areas, but I am extremely grateful for the POSTettes. She has created a library of information that is easily understood and set up to be a quick read. This has been so beneficial to the field, and the therapists use these to enhance their skills, understanding and documentation. The POSTettes have been a significant part of the success of our therapy programs! — Kelly Alvord, Therapy Resource

Tamala is my go-to for everything regulatory, billing and technical. To multiply me as a leader, she will direct me to where I can find the answers, more often than not, but I’m amazed at her bank of knowledge and how she is able to help me grow as a leader in finding and learning information. Tamala has made herself available to DORs and therapists in our market, especially our SLPs, which has added another layer of support and increased the effectiveness of these leaders and therapists. Her leadership has been so impactful. Our therapy teams would be nowhere near where they are now if it wasn’t for Tamala’s influence and support. — Gary McGiven, Therapy Resource

Tamala was my very first Divisional Rehab Director (in another company). I was a new SLP and ready to change the world; Tamala helped not only encourage my passion, but maintain it over the years (and across two companies). She has supported me in all things SLP, from attending conferences together to brainstorming over the latest coding changes. She has a fervor for SLP that can’t be matched, but I keep on trying! Also, POSTettes might just be the best thing known to mankind. — Whitney Warkentin, Therapy Resource

My name for Tamala is “Siri”! Ask her anything and she gets back to you in seconds or minutes with not only an awesome answer, but documents to back it up! She is an amazing lady with so much knowledge and kindness to go right along with it. She’s the real deal! I feel extremely fortunate to have her as a resource partner! — Candy Hardin, Therapy Resource

The last year has been challenging, stressful and dare I say character-building. I do mostly enjoy challenges, and can appreciate the sense of accomplishment after getting through, but I had a challenge I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through okay. Tamala was wholeheartedly in my corner and was so supportive. One particular day I saw trouble coming and called Tamala. She is always so responsive; she answers the phone almost every time I call. (I’m sure it’s because I’m her favorite, but I suppose there is a chance she is always this responsive 😊) She was in the middle of something, but still took the time to listen to my concern, make me feel validated in my concern, and give me confidence to address the concern. I remember thinking how grateful I was for her and the support she gave me. — Cory Robertson, Therapy Resource

Tamala is my “go to” for anything regulatory, any changes that require changes in how we document, and when I really can’t find any information… she digs for us! Tamala has been amazing all these years. Her saying “sharing is caring” really rings true! — Maryann Bowles, Therapy Resource

Tamala has been so great with updating us and keeping us current through her POSTettes! They are an absolute life saver! She is always great with explaining things and being available for questions related to SLP and general therapy questions. She is a rockstar! Woooohoooo! — Stephanie Winkler, Therapy Resource

She is always available and willing to help answer questions as we have them. — Joleen Linn, Therapy Resource
Tamala is amazing! Her energy, her spunk, her attention to detail are all things I wish we could all have. She always answers my calls, gives me a good reality check when needed, and pushes me to be better than when our conversations started. Her informational emails, POSTettes, and overall knowledge about everything amazes me. She’s also one of the best humans to hang out with. Smart, witty, entertaining, and always up for an adventure. I honestly don’t know what we would do without her.
— Aimee Bhatia, Therapy Resource

I have never worked with someone who demonstrated caring about those she supervised quite like Tamala. Tamala was often aware of, or receptive to, issues affecting those she worked with in a way that demonstrated caring. I always have felt I could bounce anything off Tamala, not just work-related issues but life issues. She strikes the perfect balance of encouraging you to care for your work and care for yourself. In a work environment, you can at times feel lost in a sea of employees, but not with Tamala. She knows her people and is a partner in every sense of the word. She wants to hear your voice and is willing to help that voice shape the organization to become better. Every baseball team needs a good utility player — someone who is good at every position and willing to step up and make things happen. Tamala is Ensign’s ultimate utility player. Thanks, Tamala, for what you do, but more importantly for who you are. — Sam Baxter, Therapy Resource