Editor’s Note: McKnight’s Senior Living, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Home Care are profiling the McKnight’s 2023 Women of Distinction honorees daily from July 5 to Aug. 15. For additional McKnight’s Women of Distinction content, visit this page.

When you think of the word hospice, terms such as “engaging” and “energizing” likely are not some of the first to come to mind. But thanks to Desirae Toomey’s infectious spirit and commitment to her “why,” she has created an environment for her team at Sanford Home Health that is full of optimism, compassion and inspiration.

“I believe if I help create an exciting, innovative and engaging work environment that inspires and energizes people, they will take that enthusiasm and compassion out into the world,” Toomey says. She is the administrator of home- and community-based services for Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (Sanford Home Health), Sioux Falls, SD.

Toomey holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of South Dakota, a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree in nursing administration from Western Governors University. Before becoming a home health administrator, she served as a clinical applications analyst and principal trainer, as well as a nurse supervisor and manager. Toomey also previously worked as a registered nurse at the Wyoming Penitentiary. 

When she began her role as hospice administrator in 2021, Toomey faced the challenge of interacting with several very dissatisfied teams. Rather than deferring responsibility, she took time to listen to everyone’s concerns with the intent to understand, including employees in decision-making and organizing team-building events in an effort to create a better professional/personal life balance for her team. The importance she placed on repairing and rebuilding relationships first is a testament to Toomey’s desire to engage those around her in a positive way. 

She also eagerly collaborates across disciplines for the benefit of her patients, colleagues say. She recently initiated work with the system’s spiritual care department to ensure that the residential hospice program she oversees had the proper resources to provide inclusive spiritual care resources to patients and families representing various faith traditions. 

The results of Toomey’s relationship efforts were reflected in a recent employee survey that saw her team engagement improving almost 20% in just six months. Toomey’s optimistic approach to resolution continues to position her team for excellence in the future. 

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. PointClickCare is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s program. PharMerica is the Silver sponsor. Additional sponsors include American HealthTech, Healthcare Services Group, Omnicare, Sentrics and ShiftKey.

Visit this web page to see lists of honorees from 2023 and previous years.