Turnbo trades berries for beaches
by Danny Wade
Greg Turnbo is trading berries for beaches. Friday was his last day on the job as administrator of Tennessee State Veterans Home in Humboldt.
He started his new job Monday in Clearwater, Fla. with Oaks of Clearwater, an independent living, assisted living and skilled care facility. Turnbo said he will be working on the skilled care floor, which is similar to the care given at the Veterans Home.
“My plan for a while was to move to Florida, but it happened quicker than expected.” Turnbo said last week. “I’ve traveled to Clearwater for years and I love it there. I love the weather.”
Turnbo said his plan is to retire there, “but that’s a long time away,” he laughed.
Last Wednesday, a farewell reception was held for the staff and residents to honor Turnbo. A beautiful cake was topped with a man wearing shades, sitting in a chase lounge underneath palm trees portraying Turnbo basking in the Florida sunshine. Turnbo admitted he had to fight back the tears all week long leading up to his last day on the job.
With Turnbo’s departure, there is a void for the administrator position. Ed Harries said someone from the administration staff will be filling in until the position is filled. Harries is the executive director over all four TN Vet Home locations in Knoxville, Clarksville, Murfreesboro and Humboldt.
“We are currently recruiting,” Harries said. “It’s going to be hard to replace him (Turnbo).”
Turnbo first began working for the Humboldt facility in 2006 as a dietary manager. Over time he worked his way up the ladder and was named administrator in 2009.
“Losing Greg will be a huge loss,” Harries added. “His record as an administrator is remarkable. I’m surprised no one hasn’t come in and snatched him up before.”
That record Harries alluded to are state and federal VA inspections. During Turnbo’s tenure, the Humboldt facility has had four deficiency-free inspections by the state and five deficiency-free inspections by the federal government.
“That’s unheard of,” Harries boasted of Turnbo’s impeccable record. “A lot of places would love to have just one.”
But Turnbo won’t take all the credit. He gives his staff all the credit for doing their jobs and doing them well.
“Our staff and employees are so much like a family,” Turnbo said. “I’m only as good as my staff. They’re the best! I hope to get a staff as good as them in Florida. If I could only take this building and staff with me.”
There are 220 on staff at the Humboldt facility and 125 residents. That’s nearly a 2-to-1 ratio of workers to patients.
During Wednesday’s reception, Harries praised the work Turnbo has performed over the years. Harries said he visits many other veterans homes in Tennessee and elsewhere. Harries said he uses Humboldt as the example of how to operate their facilities.
Harries presented Turnbo with a TSVH Challenge Coin as a token of his appreciation during the celebration last Wednesday.
“It’s been a rollercoaster for everybody this week,” Turnbo said as he and the staff prepared for his departure last week. “It’s been busy—a lot faster than I expected.”
“It will be a hard road to fill his shoes,” Harries said of replacing Turnbo, “and they will have to grow into them.”