2011 Utah Region EOY Finalist - David Dangerfield, Avalon Health Care, Inc.

Dr. David Dangerfield works in two industries with "inferiority complexes" — they serve individuals who are widely devalued by society.

But Dangerfield has taken the nursing home and long-term mental health care industries and made sure that his company, Avalon Health Care, places its highest values on effectively and compassionately serving these populations.

Avalon, once known as Heritage Management, started in 1989 with a dozen skilled nursing facilities. When Dangerfield began his leadership at the company, he immediately began gathering the data to do strategic planning.

With that information, he changed the company's focus from nursing homes to long-term care and post-acute care. He also emphasized the company's commitment to caring for patients with various mental illnesses.

In the redefined facilities, Dangerfield implemented a new, patient-centered quality improvement system. Rather than being evaluated based on processes, a traditional measure in the industry, Avalon's facilities are measured based on outcomes — treatment of patients in clinical settings, patient and family satisfaction and robust performance.

These initiatives have led 17 of the company's 39 facilities in five states to win the Bronze Award by the American Health Care Association.

Dangerfield has driven the company in other new directions, as well. He helped the state of Hawaii develop a plan for its first public/private health care partnership, in which the state leases land to Avalon to build and operate a skilled nursing facility. He also helped start up a skilled nursing facility in Washington that specializes in mental health — that state's only facility of its kind.