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For Women Healthcare Leaders, It’s More Than Just Business

Increasingly, women are assuming leadership roles in the healthcare industry. One of those women is Carillon’s own Wendy Livengood, executive director of Carillon Assisted Living of Salisbury, who this week was named one of Rowan County’s most influential healthcare leaders.

In her acceptance speech, Livengood spoke at length about the balance of skills necessary to serve well and succeed in the healthcare field — traits that she believes come naturally to women in the healthcare field.

Said Livengood:

“For years, health care was defined primarily involving the hospital and doctors. Now many of our businesses have been included in the healthcare category because good healthcare is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach that involves virtually anything that helps one live a healthier, happier life.

In thinking through what else has led to my tenure and success in the assisted living industry, I believe it’s been:

• a careful balance of praying (and listening)

• having the love and support of my family

• surrounding myself with wonderful people

• working for a company I believe in

• and being determined to push through obstacles women face in business.

My career has been one step leading to the next. Starting in college working for the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, I realized I had a love for working in human services. Over the years I’ve tried to pray about my career path, ask for strength and wisdom as a leader, and more importantly, tried to listen and obey what God’s plan has been.

Many in human service businesses could be doing something else making more money, probably for less stress, but many of us are called to do what we do.

I’ve also learned over the years that if you are doing what God calls you do to, He will equip you with what you need to be successful. And doing the right thing for the right reasons will ultimately end in success.

My father used to tell me things like, “Always do your best, stand for what you believe in, be honest and trustworthy – because that’s what ultimately defines who you are.”

These combined with an amazing relationship with my grandmother growing up have been two of the most important foundational elements in my career.

Growing up spending every weekend with my grandmother, my Gigi, we had fun together. She is a woman of grace and unmeasurable strength, a woman of God, and someone never short of love for others.

I learned a respect for older people and a reverence for her generation because of the way she lived and the way she loved us.

Even now in her 90s, Gigi is a favorite among young children and seniors alike. She’s still very active working in her yard & playing bridge. She spends time with ailing and sometimes dying friends, continues to be active in her church, and she’s never lacking laughter and love.

Over my career in assisted living, I strive each day to make decisions and operate my business as if each and every person under my care is someone’s Gigi – someone’s treasure.

I also don’t want to be remiss in recognizing my husband and children for their support, understanding and patience over the years.

This is a 24-hour, 365 day-a-year lifestyle choice that not only affects me, but frequently impacts them. There have been many long days and re-scheduled family plans over the years. When my daughter was about 5-years-old, I was late arriving to a birthday party and as she held my hand said, “It’s ok, what she does is VERY important. Mommy has to take care of the old people.”

With a foundation of God & family, the next ingredient for success in healthcare is to be sure you surround yourself with competent, caring people.

I have the joy and honor of gathering each morning at 9:00 am with an amazing management team – nursing, activities, dining services, maintenance, and my awesome administrative assistant, help carry out our vision and they keep me on the right track.

In working for Carillon Assisted Living, we work for a company that’s founded in a commitment to providing quality care for our residents. We’re like family, we spend more waking hours with one another than we probably spend with our families. Like me, they could all be doing something else making more money for less stress, and like me they have CHOSEN to come to Carillon each day and give of themselves and their gifts to take care of people.

Being a woman in healthcare has never been an easy thing. Twelve years ago when I first became an executive director in assisted living, I was 30 years old.

I was frequently asked if I was old enough to be doing my job, and 12 years ago people were even less likely to trust the competence of a woman in a management role than they are now. I think because of my foundation of God & family, surrounding myself with amazing people, working for a company that I believe in, and in part due to good old fashioned stubbornness mixed with a little bit of UNC Chapel Hill arrogance, I’ve pushed through some of the barriers I’ve faced as a woman in this industry.”



Posted in Sage Stories on April 18, 2014

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