Meet Heather M. Barnes, Controller

Picture it. Boonsboro 2021. Monday rolls around and you know what that means? Covid testing day for all staff. You pull your car into the main roundabout, roll down your window, and accept your fate. The swab goes in one nostril, then the other. Once your sinuses have been tickled just enough, you’re given the all clear to move along and you start the drive home. While stopped at a red light, your brain starts to think back to the test you just had. If every staff member has to be tested, sometimes multiple times a week, that must add up in expenses. You start the calculations:

The cost of 1 Covid test + a bajillion employees = Money, money, money, money. MONAY. (Good luck getting that out of your head now).

And that’s not even counting the cost of PPE and additional expenses that come along with a global health crisis. Who on earth could keep track of all of those expenses? And how?

You decide to ask the expert.

Control. By definition, it’s an intimidating word: The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

Yikes. Maybe try a different definition.

Control (v) – determine the behavior or supervise the running of.

Yup, that’s the one.

There are many different types of financials that need to be monitored in the world of senior living. There’s the daily costs and expenses, bills that need to be paid. There’s a steady flow of cash coming in and out. Resident accounts that the Accounting team are responsible for managing. Insurance questions that need answered. Living in times of Covid-19, additional costs now need to be added such as processing each Covid test performed on a staff member (260 staff members to be exact), the cost of PPE and anything else related to the pandemic. Those numbers have to be separated from regular, every day expenses and reported to the federal government in order to track the organization’s spending habits during the outbreak. So who exactly reports all of that information? Who tracks all of the numbers?

We talked earlier about control but what’s a controller? A controller is the executive responsible for overseeing the preparation of all financial reports. They also focus on audits, assist with the budget, and analyze financial data. That means that they are the one who track every expense that comes in and out of Fahrney Keedy’s doors. (They also monitor the parking lot to make sure you are not parked in an illegal parking space and will page you until you move your vehicle. But, that one falls under the “other duties as needed” category.)

Every week, we will be highlighting a member of the Fahrney Keedy Family to learn a little bit more about their life and career. They will be offering a unique perspective on their role as well as advice for those considering a career in senior living.

This week, we get a snapshot into the life and career of Heather Barnes, Controller.

Where did you go to school? What was your major? “I went to Arcadia University and majored in Health Administration.”

Do you have any other certifications? “I have my Assisted Living Manager Certification.”

When did you know you wanted to work in finance? What drew you to your current position? “I kind of fell into finance. I always have had a passion for helping the elderly and when I had to step in and assist my grandparents with their finances, I started to find that I really enjoyed it. Dealing with finances in the Long Term care industry can be very complicated and it is an honor to be able to help where I can during this stage of a person’s life.”

What brought you to Fahrney Keedy? “When I applied for the Director of Accounting job in 2015, it was because I just wanted to be closer to home. By that point in my career, I had spent more time in the car and on the road than I had my own home. It was time for a change.”

In honor of #tbt, we want to throw it back to your first day at Fahrney Keedy. What do you remember? “I remember being nervous especially being the only non-clinical person in orientation. However, everyone was so welcoming and pleasant. It truly felt like a family.”

What does a day in the life look like for you? What are your duties and responsibilities? “Unpredictable is the best word to describe it and that is what I enjoy! My biggest responsibility is to closely monitor the cash coming in and going out. However, with the pandemic, I have had to do a large amount of financial reporting to the federal and state governments on monies we have spent specific to Covid. In addition, the has been an increase in applying for federal funding to help offset all expenses. To sum it up, numbers and reporting are the biggest parts of my job while being a resource for insurance questions that pop up.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent working here that you would be willing to share? “The day the new memory care unit opened was the one that I will carry with me. When the residents walked into the unit, I just watched them all light up with excitement. They took in all that the new unit had to offer and slept well that night. I believe having that unit has helped improve the quality of life for some of those residents.”

This pandemic has been hard for everyone but especially for those individuals working in healthcare. How did you personally get through it? “Family. My husband and son have been the biggest supporters I could have ever asked for. They both can instantly put a smile on my face when I need it the most.”

Oscar Wilde once said “with age comes wisdom”. What advice would you give to your younger self? “Do not sweat the small stuff. Things usually have a way of working themselves out.”

What advice would you give to someone interested in being a Controller? “Have a thick skin and be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not every conversation is going to be positive and upbeat. There are tough conversations to be had and someone has to provide the numbers to support the tough conversations.”

NOBODY PUTS ACCOUNTING IN THE CORNER! (But we did put their new office suite in the basement!)

Five Second Pose!

We asked Heather five rapid fire questions to get to know her a little better:

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Movie: Dirty Dancing

Favorite Disney Character: Micky Mouse

Favorite Superhero: Batman

Favorite Actor, Age 65 and over: Betty White

1 Fun Fact: Heather’s first time on a plane was a flight to London when she was 18 for Spring Break in college

Thank you so much to Heather Barnes for sharing! Stay tuned next week when we add another photo to our Family Album!