Editor’s note: McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living are profiling the McKnight’s 2022 Women of Distinction honorees daily July 5 through Aug. 11. For additional McKnight’s Women of Distinction content, visit this page.

Years ago, Barb Rode gathered a group of colleagues, borrowed a minivan from some nuns living on the campus of the company and drove to Canada. Why? Because she had heard that Canada was leading the way in palliative care, and she wanted to know how they were doing it.

After conducting a whirlwind tour of five facilities with colleagues, Rode facilitated a strategy session as they drove back stateside. Soon after, her company’s Saint Therese, community became one of the first nursing homes in the Midwest to offer a palliative care program. 

This kind of behavior is not uncommon for Rode, colleagues say. Once, she also flew to a Mount Sinai Health System hospital in New York that specialized in cardiac care in hopes of improving such care at Saint Therese locations.

“Barb has devoted her career to ensuring the health, safety and comfort of seniors,” Saint Therese Communications Specialist Barb Hemberger said. “What makes her so exceptional is her leadership and vision, her creative and innovative mind, and her caring nature.”

Rode has been innovating in her role as CEO of Saint Therese, a nonprofit senior care organization that was founded in the Twin Cities in 1964, for 21 years. In that time, the organization has grown from one location, Saint Therese of New Hope, to two other full continuum-of-care communities. The organization also has added a transitional care unit in addition to the aforementioned palliative care program.

Rode also has overseen the development of a stand-alone rehabilitation, wellness and home health care company known as Ascend Rehabilitation.

In addition to her work at Saint Therese, she has served on the LeadingAge Board of Directors and in 2019 received the LeadingAge Minnesota Ray Johnson Pioneer Leadership Award. She has been a board member for organizations such as Care Choice, Care Ventures, Empira and CSS as well.

Rode plans to retire this summer. No doubt, Saint Therese will miss her dedication to innovation and devotion to improvement.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors include OnShift and PharMerica, and the Bronze sponsor is Reliant Rehabilitation. Table sponsors included Dreamscape, Gojo/Purell and Sound Physicians.