Editor’s Note: We are profiling the McKnight’s 2020 Women of Distinction honorees daily through the program’s July 28 online awards ceremony. To register or learn more about this digital celebration, the Forum the next day (which offers three free continuing education credits July 29) and the program in general, visit this website.

Connie Ortega headshot
Connie Ortega

Connie Ortega has grown a reputation on building up long-term care facilities — and professionals as well. The number of careers she is credited with boosting is a huge figure, colleagues note.

Her own career started under some of the most challenging circumstances. Her first job was as a social worker at a facility on Chicago’s gritty West Side. She eventually took the reins and transformed it into an operation to be emulated. One of Ortega’s secrets was partnering with community organizations, including the geriatrics department at the University of Chicago Hospital, to supplement services. Later, she partnered again with a respected Chicago hospital while administrator at another facility. She demonstrated early on that skilled nursing facility-hospital partnerships could be a key link to success.

Relocating from Chicago to Portland, OR, she did it again: Turned around a struggling Prestige Management facility into one of the most successful operations in the company’s sizable portfolio. Now, the vice president of operations for Legacy West, she continues to make a positive impact on the workers, residents and buildings in dozens of facilities spread through a handful of western states.

One of her more recent successes included the seamless absorption of facilities that had been in the bankrupt Skyline portfolio. Ortega was credited with flawlessly coordinating the switchover, even while instituting a new electronic medical records system, pharmacy, new technology, multiple vendors, tools and equipment and day-to-day operations.

In addition to being a licensed nursing home administrator and vice president of operations, Ortega also earned a Master of Social Work degree and maintained a private practice outside regular work hours.

Away from the office, in fact, she has several interesting pursuits, among them running 5K and 15K races while pushing her two young children in a stroller, and being very active in a dragon boat paddling club.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors are OnShift and PharMerica, and the Signature sponsors are Acadia Pharmaceuticals and Enquire.