Michelle Grunsted is 34 years old, and already, at this point in her career, she manages a three-tier retirement community of 150 retirees and 89 employees.
It's a challenge that many people her age don't have the experience — yet — to tackle. But Grunsted grew quickly into her role of responsibility.
Grunsted is executive director of Highpoint at Cape Coral, which is managed by Greenbrier Senior Living LLC. The community has three sectors: retirees who can manage with independent care; those who need assisted living; and those who need memory care.
It's a challenge, Grunsted admits, in managing the entire center. But her experience helps, she says.
"A lot of things are not surprising to me," says Grunsted, noting she has faced many of the problems before. And part of her management philosophy is to meet the problem head-on, a strategy she learned from her mentor, father Howard Grunsted.
One of those problems was Hurricane Ian, which hit Lee County in late September 2022. Grunsted and her team spent the night with the community as the storm hit, and stayed for days afterward.
The community lost power but the center has a generator. The real challenge was water, which got cut off. While the center had plenty of drinkable water and beverages, it did not have incoming tap water to flush the toilets. Grunsted and staff grabbed buckets and used pool water to flush the toilets.
"I try to anticipate things," says Grunsted. "I'm pretty good at being proactive."
An example of that is the nursing and nursing assistant shortage that continues to dog the retirement and medical sectors. When Grunsted came in, she dealt with it by getting rid of employment agencies that were sending some temporary help. Grunsted found the agencies inconsistent and ended their use, preferring in-house, long-term employees.
So why does Grunsted work so hard? Grunsted says work is the way to accomplish goals.
"If you want it, you have to work for it," Grunsted says.