New Crestridge administrator

New Crestridge administrator Amanda Carr visits with Gerri Lawrence in the facility’s living room as she completes a word find and uses an afghan that she created the squares for. “I love it here,” Carr said.

Eighteen days after Amanda Carr walked across the graduation stage with the Maquoketa High School class of 2003, she started work at Crestridge Care Center. When she got married in 2015, Crestridge residents saw Carr wearing her wedding dress before her parents.

After working as a certified nursing aide (CNA), a certified medical assistant (CMA), and the facility’s activity director, Carr took over as Crestridge’s administrator Nov. 1.

It’s unusual for a nursing home administrator to rise through the ranks, and it’s even more unusual to have held all four positions in a single facility. Many people think of an administrator as someone who comes from outside the facility rather than someone they’ve known since she was a teenager, according to Carr.

“I grew up here,” Carr said. “This is home.” At 34, she has spent half her life working at Crestridge.

Carr said she’s equally committed to the facility in the future. “I’m so planted here,” she said. “I’m happy being here the rest of my life. I want to be here.”

Crestridge is a 75-bed facility with intermediate care, skilled care, a memory unit and a men’s-only unit — a relative rarity. The facility has been in Maquoketa since 1967 and is owned by Gerry and Nancy Voyna, who also own seven other nursing homes and two assisted living facilities.

Carr said she has been drawn to geriatric care her whole life. She completed her CNA through Maquoketa High School and, at the time, thought she might move on to become a registered nurse.

A decade later, she went to college to complete her bachelor’s in health services administration from Upper Iowa University, along with a minor in pre-law. She will graduate in May.

She said she’s finding administration to be a good fit for her. “I love being a leader,” she said.

Carr is excited to become a leader among the people with whom she’s worked her entire adult life. “I’m comfortable with the staff,” she said. “I’m comfortable with the residents. I’m comfortable with the residents’ families. I know the building. This transition is easy.”

She said she’s been blown away by the support and pride of the Crestridge community for her new leadership role. “It fills me with confidence that I will do well,” she said.

Though Carr has already been involved with Crestridge marketing, she’s excited that her new role will give her an opportunity to be the “face” and “voice” of the facility in the community, as she looks for staff and residents for Crestridge openings.

Carr emphasized the facility’s family atmosphere. It’s more important to Carr to have familiar photos, a stuffed robotic dog, and a homey feeling than it is for Crestridge to look fancy.

Carr said she’ll continue to be involved in some residents’ activities, such as a large Easter egg hunt the facility puts on annually. Assistant Nelly Edwards has taken over as activities director.

Carr said she loves spending one-on-one time with residents, getting them to smile, laugh or break out of their shell. 

“I don’t have any grandmas or grandpas living, so here I have 75 grandmas and grandpas,” she said.