Susan Gilster, PhD, RN, founded and operated the Alois Alzheimer Center, the first dementia-specific facility in the United States, from 1987 through mid-2012. Dr. Gilster worked more than 25 years to create person-centered, compassionate dementia care. As an interactive leader, she worked collaboratively to create best practices and programs to meet the unique needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and programs to engage and support families.
Under her leadership, the Alois Alzheimer Center achieved:
- Hospital readmission rates of 0-3% per year (2007-2012)
- Medication utilization that was 50% less than the national average
- Restraint-free environments
- 90% employee retention rate
- 98.5% recommendation rate (by families who said they would refer Alois to others)
- Several state and national awards, including National Quality Award Step I and II
Dr. Gilster served as a preceptor and volunteer professor for the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University and other colleges and universities in the Cincinnati region. She has designed and conducted clinical research projects and participated in symptom management drug studies, including experimental pharmaceuticals for dementia. Additional research topics include examining organizational strategies to reduce hospitalizations, decrease adverse events in dementia, and increase satisfaction among patients, family and staff.
Dr. Gilster has presented more than 150 national and international talks on Alzheimer’s care and treatment, organizational change, leadership, and employee satisfaction and retention. She served as co-facilitator of the Leadership and Culture training for the Practice Change Fellowship program under the direction of Dr. Eric Coleman. Dr. Gilster has published more than 50 professional articles and written two books, “A Way of Life: Developing an Exemplary Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Program” and “SERVICE First: Changing Culture, Changing Care.”
Prior to founding the Alois Alzheimer Center, Dr. Gilster served as a direct care provider, manager, educator and executive officer in acute and long-term care settings, including The Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Abbott Laboratories, and Tamanaco Clinic and Hospital in Caracas, Venezuela.
Dr. Gilster’s expertise and experience provide a unique perspective on the support needed by patients, families and health care employees, as well as the operational requirements of industry organizations.