Chopoorian honored as Woman of Distinction in skilled nursing

Chopoorian honored as Woman of Distinction in skilled nursing

PAWTUCKET – For her work as administrator at the Mansion Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Central Falls, Teresa Chopoorian will be honored next week as one of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living’s Women of Distinction.

Chopoorian, of Lincoln, who also serves as chairwoman of the city of Pawtucket’s Cancer Control Task Force, is one of 19 women inducted into the 3rd anniversary class featuring Hall of Honor members, Rising Stars, and Veteran VIPs.

“I was shocked,” Chopoorian told The Breeze about being selected for the Hall of Honor. “It’s an honor to be recognized.”

A virtual awards celebration will take place on Tuesday, May 18, at 7 p.m., and a forum will be Wednesday, May 19, where people will “have the opportunity to celebrate their achievements, hear the stories behind their professional successes and get their takes on the issues that are most relevant to women leaders working in long-term care today.”

The awards recognize “women leaders in skilled nursing and senior living who inspire others and have a powerful effect on the lives of the individuals they serve,” states its website.

Herb Weiss, economic and cultural affairs officer for the city of Pawtucket and a writer covering long-term care, nominated Chopoorian for the award. “It was an easy call to nominate Teresa Chopoorian for the prestigious McKnight’s Women of Distinction award,” Weiss told The Breeze. “We have known each other for over two decades, and I have seen the long hours she puts into overseeing the care provided at Mansion Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She is extremely dedicated and committed to ensuring that quality of care is being provided to the residents.”

Weiss said he believes that Chopoorian is in the top of her field and “deserves national recognition for the caliber of care provided by her facility.” He added that she is the only Rhode Island nursing home administrator to receive this national recognition.

After receiving her master’s degree from Boston University’s School of Nursing in the 1960s, she was hired as an instructor there. In 1970, she left to teach for a professorship at Boston College where she co-directed a Macy Foundation graduate program with Harvard Medical School, a new program to train clinical nurse specialists. From there, she worked at Boston State College Department of Nursing and received a doctorate from Boston University in 1982. She then taught at Northeastern University.

After 22 years as a nursing educator, Chopoorian took over her family’s business, becoming the administrator for Mansion, which provides short-term rehabilitation services after hospitalization and long-term stays for those who have chronic or recurring health issues and has served the community for more than 65 years, according to its website.

While the facility’s mailing address is listed as Central Falls, Chopoorian said the building is technically located in both Pawtucket and Central Falls.

When a family crisis forced the siblings to decide to take over the facility, Jack Chopoorian, Chopoorian’s brother and co-owner of the facility, said his sister did so “at the cost of a very promising academic career.” As a nursing home administrator, she’s continued to do well. “She’s done an outstanding job everywhere she’s been,” he said. “She’s extremely devoted to her discipline.”

Mansion has been in their family since she was 12 years old, Teresa said, noting that her parents bought the facility. “My father was quite entrepreneurial,” she said. “He liked the whole idea of owning a nursing facility.”

“The two of us realized we had to become much more involved in the business or sell it,” she said about herself and her brother. “We’re committed to it.”

At Mansion, Jack said, his sister has created a caring culture and environment. “She is invested in the field of nursing,” he said.

The siblings have also made a major contribution to historic preservation in Central Falls by restoring and renovating not only the Mansion but a nearby home for affordable housing. The mansion was built by the Conant family, Teresa noted.

She also serves on the board for The Samaritans of Rhode Island, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention and said she’s been very devoted to her role there.

“Teresa is an amazing woman who is a mentor and teacher to so many of us,” said Denise Panichas, executive director of the Samaritans. “When she joined the board of The Samaritans of Rhode Island in 2008, she not only brought her administrative skills but also her medical background helping us to connect the dots as it relates to the impact physical health has on mental health and vice versa. Most importantly, she gave us a better understanding of the emotional challenges of the aged. Our empathy for seniors is grounded in the empathy Teresa brings to her residents every day.”

Teresa added that the Cancer Control Task Force, of which she’s been involved in since 1999, is very close to her heart. “That’s been an extremely important part of my life,” she said.

Jack said he’s proud of how his sister has led the facility through the pandemic, saying they only had one small outbreak of COVID-19 after eight months, and there have been no deaths so far.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Teresa said. “(The pandemic) has taken its toll on me and everyone else.”

While the facility has begun allowing visitations and is opening up more as restrictions ease, she said they’re still being extremely cautious. “The bulk of residents since January have been vaccinated,” she said. “We’re looking forward to residents having much more access to their families.”

When reflecting on the industry, she said she’d like to see more public support for nursing facilities. “One of the more difficult parts is staffing,” she said. “We are unable to have adequate staffing.” She said she’d like to see legislative support and funding so facilities can properly pay nursing staff. Right now, “they’re incredibly underpaid,” she said. “I’m amazed sometimes (with) what they have to do.”

Asked if she has enjoyed her time running Mansion after teaching for years, she said she absolutely has. Providing excellent services to seniors in their care and creating positive experiences for her staff has been a reward, she said.

For more on the awards ceremony, visit www.mcknightswomenofdistinction.com .