Vetter Health Services Home Office: Mission is ‘Dignity in Life’

Jack & Eldora

Vetter Health Services remains true to its vision: teamwork, serving, integrity, and excellence

When Katie Mantz signed on as a project manager at Vetter Health Services last July to manage the capital improvements at 31 nursing homes the company owns in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Wyoming, she liked what she saw – a family-like atmosphere at the company headquarters in the Elkhorn area.

“Its hard to find a group working as a team,” Mantz said of her prior jobs. “At Vetter, we all help each other as much as possible.”  Her transition into Vetter began with a training orientation.  “My supervisor used the orientations to go over our mission, vision, and values – the backbone of the company, ” Mantz said.

Brian Stuhr, Vetters accountant for 12 years agreed.  “Our leadership team is dedicated to our personnel,” he said. “They know us as individuals, what are our wants and needs. They give everyone the room to grow within one’s department and in the entire company.”

“Our overall commitment is to be a place we’d love to be, personally and professionally,” said Glenn Van Ekeren, who has been with the company for 15 years and now serves as its president.

The company began in 1975 when Jack and Eldora Vetter bought a nursing home in Fairbury, Nebraska. After acquiring a few more nursing homes, they created Vetter Health Services as a management company to operate them and the others they acquired later.  At the same time, Jack Vetter created the company’s mission statement: “Dignity in Life,” which remains the same today. In its vision statement are quality life, quality care, excellent teams, outstanding facilities, quality reputation and stewardship – the last meaning that the company will “be responsible stewards of our resources to serve our residents, ensure the long-term financial stability of the company, reinvest in our people and facilities, and pursue growth opportunities.”

“The words are not profound, but the implementation and application of the is important,” Van Ekeren said about the vision statements.

Following the elements of Vetter’s vision statement are the company values – serving, integrity , teamwork, and excellence.  Besides those qualities, Vetter might list being innovative. Recently, Vetter paired with a Colorado firm. It’s Never 2 Late, that created touch-screen computer systems that can be used by anyone with little or no knowledge of how to use computers.  Each Vetter facility has one of these systems for its residents to create art work, look at photos, watch videos, use email, engage in interactive activities (including video games), and remain in touch with families and friends by participating in Skype connections to events such as wedding and graduations.

Overall, Vetter has 3,500 employees who care for about 2,500 residents. The company’s services range from those for people needing short-term therapies to help for residents in long-term care for dementia and those in hospice.

Orientation      “We’re a very relational company,” Van Ekeren said. “A lot of relationships are built here.”  He explained that representatives from each department in Vetter’s headquarters meet quarterly to “make place where we’d like to be.”  “We have an informal conversations and launch each meeting with no agenda,” Van Ekeren said. “We ask each of them, “What’s important to you and your team?” Philosophically, we want to treat one another as the most important people in our lives.”

Vetter wants to remove all levels of frustrations for its employees, he said. That ranges from interpersonal situations to problems with equipment.  On an employee’s first day at Vetter’s office, he or she is greeted with a massive welcome basket. Newcomers are introduced to everyone and get to personalize their own offices. “We have no cubicles here,” Van Ekeren said.  He went on to say that the company likes to identify and maximize the utilization of people’s strengths.  “This company is only as good as the people in our VHS family,” Van Ekeren said.

Vetter Health Services – Second place, Medium Category

Offices: Headquarters in Elkhorn area, 31 nursing homes in five states.

Employees: 3,500

Primary business: Providing short- and long- term care for people needing assistance in their daily lives.


Written by Mike Whye, World-Herald Correspondent/Reprinted with permission by Omaha World-Herald

Great Place to Work logo
Best Workplaces in Aging Services logo
AHCA Awards