Recently, Susan Horvath assisted a nurse with one of Homeland Center’s residents, watching as the caregiver handled her duties efficiently and compassionately.
“I’m really impressed with our nursing staff here and the wonderful care they take of the residents,” says Susan, Homeland’s new Director of Skilled Admissions. “They treat the residents like family. That’s a big part of why I wanted to work at Homeland.”
As Director of Skilled Admissions, she makes sure that new residents have a smooth transition.
“Our reputation very much speaks for itself,” she says. “With admissions, I get a lot of calls from families, saying ‘I’ve heard great things about Homeland. I want my loved one to come here.’ It’s very nice to hear that because a lot of places have to work very hard to get that reputation, and Homeland has it.”
Susan is an experienced social worker whose career followed a winding path. As a freshman at Shippensburg University, she initially set out to become a business education teacher but soon found the major wasn’t for her. Her roommate suggested that an introductory social work class might suit her temperament.
“It was a fit for me,” Susan says, especially since growing up, her parents were always service-oriented and volunteered at church and school. “It was where I wanted to be, where I needed to be.”
Susan went on to earn a master’s degree at Marywood University in Scranton and then worked in social work and admissions at Harrisburg-area nursing homes. Her experience led her to a position in the office of then-Pennsylvania Auditor General Bob Casey (now U.S. Senator), where she conducted nursing home performance audits.
After her daughter was born, Susan explored opportunities in other fields. Once her daughter was a little older, it was back to social work at local nursing homes and then to a sales and marketing position with an area hospice.
Her hospice work sometimes brought her to Homeland Center, where she encountered Barry Ramper II, Homeland’s president and CEO, for whom she worked at her first social work post. He asked her to come to Homeland.
“I thought highly of him and respected him,” Susan says. “When he offered me a job, it wasn’t an easy decision. I loved what I was doing, but when a former mentor seeks you out, I took that seriously.”
Returning to a continuing care retirement community during a pandemic is challenging, she readily admits.
“If there were three negative things, then I had to find three positive things about the situation,” she says. “I wouldn’t say I’m a religious person, but I have a strong faith and belief that there is a higher power looking out for us. We’re going through all this craziness for a reason, and we just have to keep looking forward and hope for the best.”
Homeland’s most powerful positives are the “amazing people here who do outstanding work,” she says. “It’s been great just being around my coworkers and working together to solve problems and knowing that everything you’re doing is for the good of our residents, to keep them safe and happy and healthy.”
Susan remarried recently to her high school sweetheart, with whom she reconnected at marching band reunions. She has a 16-year-old daughter, and he has three children, ages 10 to 26.
“My daughter never had siblings, so it’s nice for her to now say ‘my sister,’” Susan says.
The family enjoys camping, especially at Indian River Inlet in Delaware, where they watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the bay. Susan, her husband, and her daughter live in the home where Susan grew up, which they are gradually renovating.
Much like returning to her parents’ home to live feels natural, coming to Homeland, she says, takes her back to the feelings she had when she enrolled in her first social work course.
“Homeland felt like a fit from the beginning,” Susan says.