Theresa Watts headshot

Editor’s Note: McKnight’s Senior Living, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Home Care are profiling the McKnight’s 2022 Women of Distinction honorees daily July 5 through Aug. 10. For additional McKnight’s Women of Distinction content, visit this page.

Theresa Watts has bravely led Alta Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation through the COVID-19 pandemic, despite joining the company only months before the crisis started.

As Alta’s infection control nurse, Watts, a registered nurse, was responsible for ensuring the facility was well-equipped with personal protective equipment. 

By March 16, 2020, when universal mask use was not yet recommended in nursing homes, she had secured more than 100 masks to be distributed across the facility.

“This quick and early intervention prevented the spread of COVID-19 within our nursing home,” Alta Chief Transformation Officer and owner Chelsey Gray said. “Theresa is consistent, thorough and has provided so many answers during a time of uncertainty and ever-changing recommendations.”

When vaccines became available in early 2021, Watts provided valuable information to staff, residents and family members about safety and efficacy. As a result, Alta had the highest staff vaccination rate of any nursing home in the state.

Watts holds multiple degrees, including a PhD in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MPH and graduate certificate in environmental health science and policy from George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, and a BSN from SUNY Plattsburgh. 

“Theresa’s education is impressive and truly brings a profound scientific and research-driven approach to infection control in our nursing home,” Gray said. 

She also is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno Orvis School of Nursing.

“Theresa is a leader who is passionate about improving nursing homes through research, advocacy and care,” Gray remarked. “We often say she is the most qualified individual to be working in a nursing home in the state of Nevada.”

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Senior Living, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Home Care. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors include OnShift and PharMerica, and the Bronze sponsor is Reliant Rehabilitation. Table sponsors included Dreamscape, Gojo/Purell and Sound Physicians.

Visit these web pages to see lists of the 2022 honorees: Rising StarsVeteran VIPsHall of HonorLifetime Achievement Award and Spirit Awards.