Joyce Humiston thinks that most people make health care too complicated.
“Health care is exactly what it sounds like: people’s health and caring for them,” she said. “Put yourself in their shoes and be understanding of where they are coming from and what is going on in their life.”
This advice comes from more than 37 years of experience as a caregiver. Humiston grew up on a ranch in Mancos with four sisters. She left Colorado to pursue her nursing degrees in Indiana. In 1992, she was working as a traveling nurse in Las Vegas when her mom called her about a job closer to home.
Richard Loucks wanted to open a nursing home in Mancos, and he needed a director of nursing. By that time, Humiston held nursing licenses in 10 states, and had experience with geriatrics, pediatrics, psychiatry and intensive care. And before working as a traveling nurse, she was the assistant director of nursing and care plan coordinator for a health care facility in West Central Indiana. She invested money in Loucks’ nursing home, The Valley Inn, with no intention of working there. But when offered the opportunity, she accepted the job.
She took a pay cut and moved in with her parents at age 31. She lived there for a year while working 12-hour shifts at the facility.
“It was a brand new building, and I was determined to make it successful,” she said. “I loved working with my nurses, teaching them what I know, and if I didn’t know, we would figure it out together.”
After five years, Humiston stepped into the administrator position, and her responsibilities grew to include the business side of the industry. She attended meetings, created policy and procedure, made decisions, managed finances and purchased supplies. One year later, in 1998, the Colorado Health Care Association & Center for Assisted Living named her Administrator of the Year.
Now, Humiston operates eight facilities in Colorado and New Mexico in her role as president and CEO of C & G Health Care Management in Cortez. She has five partners and manages 650 employees across Cortez, Mancos, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Del Norte, La Jara, Trinidad and Farmington.
“I hear from my administrators by email, text or phone call every day,” Humiston said. “We have people that have worked with me for 20-plus years.”
Humiston credits those dedicated employees with success in the industry. She has invested money and time into higher education for employees, and continues to nurture their growth in the health care industry.
“I was given an opportunity in 1992 to get involved in something, and I grabbed it,” she said. “What I did with that opportunity? I did not do this alone. The smartest thing I did as a businesswoman was surround myself with smart people.”
Over the years, Humiston earned numerous awards for her work, both as an advocate and businesswoman. Some of those honors include the Joe Warner Award, presented by the American Health Care Association, and the Colorado Health Care Association Vesta Bowden Distinguished Service Award for long-term care.
Humiston was also appointed by former Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) to serve 10 years as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, where she supported a plan to implement programs to train employees as certified medication aides. Once the plan was approved, certified employees in the state of Colorado could administer drugs prescribed by doctors to patients in nursing homes, arming nurses with the skills needed to serve a growing population of older adults.
“I have been fighting for our elderly and disabled people in rural communities for so long,” she said. “Those few people you touch in your life, they carry on the message.”