Case Study: Life Care Services

Business Opportunity: Management Strategies to Support Faith-Based Communities

Dooley Center

Business Profile

The Dooley Center opened in 1971 as the on-site skilled nursing center at Mount St. Scholastica, a monastery for the Benedictine Sisters, located in Atchison, Kansas. The not-for-profit religious organization and Catholic community was founded in 1863, and is currently home to more than 120 women. Owned and operated by Mount St. Scholastica, the 44-bed Dooley Center provides around-the-clock nursing care to monastery elders. They have partnered with Life Care Services since 2001.

Business Situation

The Benedictine Sisters are devoted to a communal life of prayer, work and hospitality. They believe in a frugal lifestyle for themselves in order to serve the needs of others through various ministries. The Dooley Center is Medicaid-certified and relies on reimbursement dollars to help defray operating costs. Outside of Medicaid funding, all operating costs are paid for by Mount St. Scholastica.

True to its religious roots, the skilled nursing community is devoted to a monastic lifestyle. The culture includes spiritual practices and routines that at times conflicted with state regulations, which caused surveyors to cite the community with deficiencies.

Religious practices include Meatless Mondays, prayer schedules outside of “normal” business hours, and silence in the community during holy weeks and other certain times of the year.

The Dooley Center has several objectives:

  • Maintain their monastic culture and lifestyle

  • Maintain its state license and regulatory compliance

  • Preserve operating costs, find efficiencies and savings opportunities

  • Maximize Medicaid reimbursement funding

  • Provide the highest-quality, resident-centric care and fulfill the mission: the care of the sick ranks above all else

We, as managers, have to be good listeners to understand the unique values of each religious organization, and what’s important to support their operational and cultural goals. Our role is to find that balance with rules in a highly regulated industry, and how to adapt and help them implement important procedures to achieve their goals.
-Terri Moore, Corporate Operations Director for Life Care Services.

Business Solution and Positive Outcomes

Working with Mount St. Scholastica and the staff and leadership at the Dooley Center, Life Care Services joined best-in-class management services with the tradition and mission of the faith-based community.

Culture, Compliance and Care


  • Hired a full-time administrator, who serves on staff at the Dooley Center.
  • Invited state surveyors and regional compliance directors to the Dooley Center to learn about monastic lifestyle practices, and to build understanding and accordance with regulations.
  • Developed alternative protein options for dining menus 7 days a week, to meet government guidelines and adhere to the monastic lifestyle.
  • Developed a system and procedures for communication during times of silence to satisfy the monastic lifestyle and government guidelines.
  • Assisted with necessary licensing and compliance for various regulations and new CMS requirements.
  • Implemented best practice clinical protocols and resident-centered care initiatives.


  • Current 5-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
  • Maintains average occupancy of 95.5%.
  • Zero deficiencies in 10 of the last 15 years under Life Care Services management.
  • PEAK awards for excellence in 2006.
  • PEAK 2.0 award for sustaining person-centered care in 2015.
  • PEAK 2.0 award for outstanding mentorship in 2016.
  • “Excellence in Action” award for resident satisfaction from National Research Corporation for 2014-2015 and 2016, ranking Dooley Center in top 10 percent nationally.
  • US News & World Report “America’s Best Nursing Homes”2010, 2016-2107.

Operations Solutions and Positive Outcomes

  • Identified a strategic cost-saving opportunity with a new Kansas state policy in 2016. With census consistently averaging 90 percent at the Dooley Center, decertifying two beds to go from 46 to 44 allowed them to be classified as a smaller community. This move allowed a bed tax reduction and cost savings of approximately $190,000 annually.
  • Implemented group purchasing programs for food and other products, as well as payroll assistance to help provide a 10 percent cost savings for operations.

Personnel Solutions and Positive Outcomes

  • Provided human resources consulting, developed new employee handbook, and revised practices to help both employee turnover and retention rates outperform industry averages.
  • Implemented safety training and procedures that have received recognition from LeadingAge Kansas, as well as new safety measures reducing workers comp claims.
  • When religious-based communities partner with Life Care Services, you’ll have a whole team of professionals helping your community achieve its goals.
Senior living communities come in all shapes and sizes, and each can have their own unique culture and values. Like the Dooley Center, we deeply respect those and take pride in Life Care Services’ versatility and depth of resources to help religious-based communities achieve their goals. -Terri Moore, Life Care Services for Corporate Operations Director
We’re a home for retired nuns, we have a monastic lifestyle, and we have to respect that monastic lifestyle. But we also have to respect state regulations to get our funding. And sometimes religion and government don’t really mix.

Renee Porter Dooley Center Administrator

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