Get to Know Quality Award Provider St. Otto's Care Center in MN

Quality Award; Quality; Awards and Recognition

​​​​St. Otto's Care Center in Little Falls, Minnesota, has been committed to the Quality Award journey since being introduced to the Baldrige Framework in 2014. Since then, the family-owned 91-bed skilled nursing center has been recognized with a Silver A​ward in 2018 ​and Bronze Award in 2016 for demonstrating systematic improvements in quality and performance through the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) Nationa​l Quality Awards Program, which recognizes long term care facilities that meet progressively rigorous standards of performance. ​St. Otto's Care Center is currently working on the Gold Award ​level of the program, the final of three distinct milestones ​in the program that generally takes years to achieve.​

  • ​​2018 National Silver Quality Award
  • 2016 National Bronze Quality Award

Danna Potter, LNHA, LALD, LSW, Administrator of St. Otto's Care Center, shares the inspiration behind the ​center's commitment to strive for quality excellence and gives her advice on taking the next step. 

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How did you get into long term care?

I went to school to be a social worker. I interned at a nursing home and fell in love! That experience started my career as a long term care social worker in 2001. In January 2013, I joined St. Otto's Care Center as a licensed social worker. After 20 years as a long term care social worker, I decided to venture out and get my Administrator license, which I obtained in 2021. I have been the current administrator at St. Otto's Care Center for 16 months.

​What started the Quality Award journey for your center?

The Baldrige Framework was dropped on my desk in 2014 without any explanation. After researching the Baldridge Framework and what it meant, we applied for the Bronze level in 2015, and in 2016 we earned the award. The framework opened our minds and helped us see a bigger picture of our organization and how systematic processes are vital for our success. After receiving the Bronze award, we worked on systems within the organization, and when we felt we were ready, we applied for the Silver award. In 2018, St. Otto's earned the Silver award. As an independent family-owned organization, we were challenged with time, resources, and team members to assist in writing the Silver application. The application was intense, and spending hours with one other team member feeling like we were writing a thesis paper, became our drive to continue to strive for excellence within the organization.

What has the award meant to you and your team?

It is not about the award, but the knowledge and skills learned throughout our journey. Sharing our success with team members has been gratifying. Helping team members understand how their daily contribution to the organization goes far beyond the daily grind of their job and the organization's walls. Showing team members where we are now and where we were is a reward that gives us a sense of pride and purpose. Someone once told me, 'Danna, you can't save the world,' and I always say, 'well, at least I can try.'

What are the lessons you have learned along the way?

Slow and steady is the key. Focus on one area at a time; otherwise, it becomes too overwhelming. Keep it simple, answer the questions, and don't second guess yourself.

What advice would you give to a provider considering applying for an award but unsure?

I would take the bull by its horns and do it. Start with the Bronze and see what your organizational profile looks like. Sharing just that with our team provided a snapshot of who you are and what your organization is trying to accomplish. The Baldridge journey is a great opportunity. It will not be easy; if it is, you are doing it wrong.

​Do you plan to continue the journey and apply at the next level, and why?

Yes. We have been working on the Gold level on and off for two years. We focus on one area at a time. Organizational improvement does not happen overnight. It takes time. It is not about getting the physical award, and it's not about becoming a 5-star rated organization. It's about system improvements and providing the best care to maintain our mission, vision, and values.


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