New CEO's heart for healthcare promises to move company forward

Angela DeLaere is excited to be the caretaker of the caretakers in Port Huron.She's the "caretaker of the caretakers."


An unusual moniker but it's one Angela DeLaere, MBA, FACHE, embraces and embodies as she marks her first few months as president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice (VNABWH.)


"I've found my passion in health care operations; I like making sure everyone has the tools and really everything that they need to succeed out there," DeLaere says.


Janal Mossett, chairman of the VNABWH Board of Directors, is impressed with DeLaere and feels her skills and talents will be invaluable to the organization going forward.


"The healthcare industry is ever-changing, and many of the changes on the horizon will pose a challenge specifically for the VNA and Blue Water Hospice because of the types of services it provides," Mossett says. "Angela has identified many of those challenges and is already positioning the VNA to proactively address them. We are very excited about the depth of healthcare administration experience that Angela brings to our organization."


After taking on the top spot at the Port Huron based nonprofit in June, in some ways, DeLaere was simply coming home.


She grew up on the water in Fair Haven and graduated from Algonac High School before attending St. Clair County Community College and then Davenport University where she earned a bachelor degree in Business Administration.

"I can't get enough of it here, I really love it and it's been a nice transition getting to know a smaller community,"
-Angela DeLaere

It was actually a part-time job as a pharmacy assistant at CVS Pharmacy in New Baltimore, tackled while she was in college, that steered DeLaere to the medical field.


When she went on to a position in the pharmacy at Beaumont Hospital, she earned her master degree in Healthcare Management and decided her real interests fell to the business side of things.


Spending 15 years at Beaumont in corporate positions with titles such as senior business manager and regional practice administrator DeLaere has been involved in numerous healthcare research projects, with a strong emphasis on the topics of oncology and hospice operations.


Throughout her tenure at Beaumont she remained a resident of St. Clair County, enduring a long commute to her home in the city of St. Clair.


"I can't tell you how nice it is to be working in a field I love at a place 10 minutes from home," she says with a smile.


DeLaere's impressive career resume also lists her as Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) earning the distinction of being board certified in healthcare management. She is one of only two people in St. Clair County with the certification.


Up to the challenge


The Visiting Nurse Association was founded in 1952, Blue Water Hospice was established in 1982 and the two entities combined resources to become one agency in 1990. Grant funding from community partners makes the success of many of their programs possible.


As an organization that services patients and families in St. Clair, southern Sanilac and northern Macomb counties DeLaere DeLaere says services offered at Blue Water Hospice House are special.says the VNABWH has five service lines in place for continuum of care. The list includes home care, private duty nurses, hospice care, the Blue Water Hospice Home and an Adult Day Care for Alzheimer & Dementia.


The Hospice House is special, providing a dozen private rooms to support patients and their families in a warm and personalized environment for end of life care. The Adult Day Care is also a successful program and DeLaere is proud to lead both areas into the future.


"The pace may be different between Beaumont and VNA and while a large health system and a community home health care and hospice are different by size, they are similar by focus, providing patients and families the best comfort and care possible," DeLaere says.


At VNABWH services are always being added and today they include a music therapist, massage therapist and a pet therapy program that has patients interacting with canines on special days at the center.


"I do recognize something very special about VNA & BWH and that is, the personal touch that we are able to provide patients," DeLaere says. "And we also have a great appreciation for our community partnerships, which allows our agency to provide charity care when the need presents itself."


When she's not busy getting established at her new post, DeLaere and her husband, Rick DeLaere, enjoy outdoor activities including boating, snowmobiling, biking and walking along local trails. The latter activity often has DeLaere accompanied by Bella, the sassy Weimaraner pup the couple rescued last year.


Port Huron also offers opportunities for exploring as DeLaere has found the area "built up and beautiful" with many restaurants and shops to visit near her offices off Military Street.


"I can't get enough of it here, I really love it and it's been a nice transition getting to know a smaller community," she says.


It's also been fun getting to know her new work crew that includes 130 employees and 60 volunteers.


"I have a fantastic team here and right now I just want to listen, learn, ask a lot of questions and build strong relationships with my staff," DeLaere says.


It's a task Mossett has no doubt the new CEO will certainly accomplish.


"With Angela, there is no stagnant status quo, we are confident that with her drive she will bring continued success to the organization," Mossett says.

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