Murphy No Longer With Manzanita Manor

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Ken Murphy and Manzanita Manor have parted company -- again.

Previously, the Payson mayor resigned as the facility administrator in April 2002. Its management company went bankrupt, and Manzanita Manor came under the direction of Health Facilities Management Corporation. HFMC asked Murphy to return as administrator in August 2002.

Neither Murphy, nor his replacement, Scottie Justice, who reported for duty Tuesday morning, would discuss the circumstances of Murphy's departure from the administrative post.

"I'm proud of the accomplishments of Manzanita Manor," Murphy said. "It's a great facility."

Justice said she didn't know the details of his departure.

However, Manzanita's Director of Nursing, Robin Spidle, was supervising the facility when the decision was announced by HFMC operations director William Mitchell.

"Murphy was gone for two weeks on (Army National Guard) reserve duty. As director of nursing, I was responsible for supervising the facility. Monday, Mitchell told me the company was making the change. He said there were a number of reasons, but gave no details."

Mitchell could not be reached for a comment at press time.

While Murphy said he could not talk about the specifics behind his departure from Manzanita Manor this week, he said, "There are several things I've been working on for the last several months."

He did admit it was not an unexpected turn of events, but wouldn't elaborate on his future plans.

Justice visited Manzanita Manor about six weeks ago, as well as the company's facility in Yuma, but it was not with the intent of checking out the facility. She said she was approached two weeks ago by her superiors about taking over Manzanita Manor. Before she came here, Justice was supervising one of the company's facilities in Texas.

HFMC manages long-term care facilities all over the country and Justice has been with the company since 1985.

Justice said she is excited about coming to Manzanita Manor.

The changes expected at Manzanita Manor include remodeling work and continuing efforts started by Murphy to establish a behavioral unit -- a means to provide services to geriatric residents with mental health issues, Justice said.

"It's not a ‘wandering dementia' unit, which Payson Care already has and meets that need," she said. "This will meet the needs of a different clientele."

Manzanita Manor has just opened a rehabilitation unit to serve both resident and outpatients, she said.

Justice said she wants the community to be more a part of life at Manzanita Manor. There will be an open house when the behavioral unit opens and other opportunities.

"The more we can get people to visit, the more they'll see the important function it fills," she said. "And they can see it is not a bad place to be."

Spidle said there is some consideration of starting a volunteer corps to contribute to the quality of life of the residents. Some churches and youth groups already visit the residents during the summer when Manzanita Manor holds its "Helping Hands" program. This program brings young people into the facility to lessen the loads of nursing aides.

To find out more about visiting or serving Manzanita Manor, contact its recreation director, Bonnie Anderson, at (928) 474-1120.

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