Santa Marta leads the way through hospitality

A culinary team member serves residents at Santa Marta senior living community in Olathe. PHOTO COURTESY OF SANTA MARTA

by The Leaven

OLATHE — It seems only natural that St. Martha, the patron of hospitality, should serve as the inspiration for Santa Marta senior living community here. Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the community’s connection to the saint is not only reflected in its name, but in a shared commitment to faithful service, hospitality and care.

“We believe that no matter your position or how long you’ve worked here, providing spectacular service comes first,” said Chet Surmaczewicz, Santa Marta’s executive director, who oversees day-to-day operations at the community. 

“Even when something may not be part of your official duties,” he added, “we empower team members to take on tasks to the best of their abilities in the name of making residents happy.” 

Surmaczewicz, who can often be found interacting with residents campus-wide to ensure they’re comfortable and well taken care of, describes Santa Marta’s service philosophy as the perfect mix between Catholic values and Disney’s hospitality and service. 

“When you visit Disney World, you barely notice them picking up the trash, but the place is virtually spotless,” he said. “The staff is not only meticulous, they’re always friendly and attentive to your wants and needs. 

“What we’re committed to at Santa Marta is similar in that we want it to be the most magical place to retire. We not only focus on the physical environment, but the overall resident experience as well.” 

Thinking ahead is emphasized during team member orientation. Staff members are encouraged not only to meet residents’ needs, but they’re expected to try to anticipate them.

Paying special attention to body language and resident responses to simple questions like: “How is your day going?” is key, said Surmaczewicz. 

The sharp focus on hospitality is resonating. Santa Marta was a recipient of the 2019 Diamond Award, an annual recognition by Greystone Communities, a senior living consulting firm that develops and manages retirement communities across the country.  The community was one of only three organizations to receive the award, which recognizes excellence in resident engagement, hospitality and service excellence, community engagement and more. 

Santa Marta also ranked in the top 5 of 750 communities surveyed by Halloran International in the U.S. and Canada. 

“It’s humbling to be part of this exclusive group of recipients,” said Surmaczewicz. “It certainly wouldn’t be possible without the support of residents, team members, our board of directors and the archdiocese. The award is further encouragement to continue following in Saint Martha’s footsteps in how we serve others.”

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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