Ken Farmer is a retired two-star general from the US Army and family medical doctor. He began another career after 33-years of service to become Careage‘s CEO in 2016, an organization that has senior services and communities in Washington State and California.
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This is a special presentation of Answers for Elders with CareAge, and happy Veterans Day holiday weekend everyone. This is a very, very special program that we’ve been looking forward to bringing you and I am here with an equally very very special guest, and that is Ken farmer, who is the CEO of Careage and can welcome to the program well. Thank you, Suzanne. It’s great to be here. You know, can, a lot of our listeners don’t realize a lot about your past and your military service. And first of all, because we’re honoring our veterans, I want to be one of the first people here to say thank you for your service and really what you have done as a doctor and a two star general in your career. Would love to talk a little bit first in this first segment about your your past, your you know, your military career. How what got you here? So I’m curious if you kind of let us know a little bit about you. Well, thank you, Suzanne. It’s wonderful to be here on the on the show and especially here around Veterans Day and and and thank you your your comment about thank you for your services. You know, many people think that has become a little bit trite, but, you know what, it still means something when people say that, Lucius. So, I think you and you know it’s interesting of all the talk that’s going on right now, you know, people taking a knee, you know, during the NFL Games and things like that. I know in my heart that there’s not a single situation that people are you know, that they don’t they disrespect the veterans. INTABOS. That’s correct. It is really about honoring, you know, the right of what are veterans fought for to be able to do that exactly, and I love that. We we swear an oath to uphold the constitution and and the constitution guarantees those rights and whether you agree or disagree, that’s what we were about in this country, is following a constitution that has freedom and rights and so forth. So I your comment is very apropos so you ask. You know, I grew up in small town in Alabama and decided in an early age that I wanted to be a doctor and I thought I would be a family dock in somewhere in the southeast and took took a scholarship in medical school for with the military and thought I would be serving my obligation and low and so you went to the military first. Then I went to college, at university at Auburn and then Universal Number School of Medicine, urging him, and then to join the military while I was in medical school as a as a way of getting through medical school, and then went to internship and and in Georgia with the military and left there and went to Germany, thinking that I was going to serve my time and get out and come back to the southeast. and Lo and Behold my wife and I fell in love with new experiences of living in Europe, living in overseas, but we also kind of fell in love with the army and it was due to a few people, to to include the community commander where I was taking us under their wing and mentoring us and and and we just this was special. So three years later we came to Madigan Army Medical Center and Tacoma, Washington. And so how now? What? How long ago was this? That was in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine and I I came here to do a residency and this has to be very different than Alabama. Well, it was, but it was very much like Germany. And so I had had a wonderful experience in Germany and so we deliberately came out here instead of going back to the southeast and we fell in love with the Pacific northwest and and at that point we said, you know what, we’re going to stay in and so, you know, we moved all around the world. I served thirty two years on active duty in the army and in forty five years of marriage, my wife and I have called eighteen places home and it was wonderful. Did Full Service family practice, delivered hundreds of babies, took care of a lot of elderly, you know, the whole age spectrum and and and had a very special relationship with a lot of people and their aging years. And so, you know, I was very blessed and the career to you know, after running a family practice training program and teaching other young doctors how to how to do family medicine, I got into the operational leadership track and commanded a bunch of hospitals and regions and came back out here as a as a one star and in the two thousand time frame. And that’s cemented our love for the Pacific Northwest and we bought a home here and said we’ll come back here some day. And then spend my last four years and in Washington DC as the deputy sire in general the army and then the commanding general, Walter read, and retired to no six and took a job as the executive vice president, Chief Operating Officer for Triwest Health Care Alliance and Phoenix and we did the private sector care for the military halt system across the western part of the country. Did that for seven years and and learned all a lot about the private sector, the corporate sector and in health and insurance and so forth, and and it built on what I had been doing for thirty two years but rounded me out in a very different way and it was a wonderful second career. Did that for seven years and a second career. Second, you’re under third career. Well, actually I’m on that fourth for I’ve finished that GIG and in two thousand and thirteen and started my own little consulting company and one of my clients was the founder and owner of carriage and he finally talked to me about a year ago into coming aboard to run the company as a CEO. So my four adult sons say they had. You have failed retirement for the third time and we’re proud of you. Yes, and and so it’s been. I’ve been blessed and this is just a natural progression of a wonderful career. Well, and you know, you just said something that I think is really touches my heart as as I kind of feel your connection with seniors. And you know, when you’ve had an opportunity to serve a senior, you know it profoundly changes your life. The fact that they are you know that it’s our responsibility as the next generation to make sure that they’re okay and to look in on them. And you know, you’ve been such a you know, a role model in that, in the fact of really taking your career to that level and to be of service to senior. So again, I thank you because being a daughter of a senior and it’s kind of my passion that we don’t leave our seniors behind. It’s people like you that so that they matter. So think well, about five years ago my parents decided that it was time to go into an assisted living for Birmingham, Alabama, and we had been talking with them and about that for a few years, my sister and I and and they finally decided it was time. And you know, we took them and looked at a lot of places and Vic picked out the right place for them and and picked out the what were their favorite things in their home, and my sister and I took those things over and we set up my parents apartment and we brought them in on a Sunday afternoon and said okay, now, hide your eyes as we walked through the door and all right, look, and I can remember to this day my dad just saying, wow, it looks like home and I love it like it was. It was their favorite things there, yes, and dad lived there for a year and a half before he died and mother lived there for another year and a half after he passed on, before she died, and it was it was such a wonderful transition and time of transition and my mother and my sister and I were so happy that mother had had that year and a half with dad and a year and a half to develop a new family and friends and network. And when he passed on it was well, she had her family around her, her new family, and that assisted living and that and that social environment, that social environment and it was. So I often tell people, you know, you probably will know when it’s time, but don’t wait until you have to. Oh yeah, no kidding. And and many people wait until a crisis forces them to do something. Isn’t it something like eighty percent exactly, and crazy. Yeah, so, don’t wait until you have to move in, when you can still enjoy it and enjoy life and and develop that new right network and social environment. Right. So we are talking to the CEO of carriage, one of our wonderful partners, can Mr. Doctor, Major General Ken Farmer, and we’re honoring veterans and one of the things can I would like to ask you about is, you know, so many of us have a veteran, you know, retired in our lives and you know it has been tried when people are saying thank you for your service, but what are some ways, I’m kind of putting you on the spot, that we can honor our our loved ones who have served. Well, it’s a it’s a good question, Susanne and and all of us are different. So I’ll share a short story. When I shortly after I retired from the military, I would run into my old colleagues, and that’s a sir. What was the biggest change her when you when you retired? And I’d say that was easy. It was getting my first name back. What do you mean? And I said I can actually introduce myself as Ken farmer and somebody say well, Hi Ken instead of well, Hi sir or or Hi and for me I that’s that’s great because I do intervene. It’s also Kenny. And I asked, I’ve asked so many of your staff, you know now to see he refer doctor, Major General, and they go no, he’s just Ken. But I have a very good friend who in our church, is also a retired to star and who retired probably ten years before me, but he still answers the phone as general, and I won’t say his last name, but right, and he introduces himself, as you know, hi, I’m General Janzo, and he wears his two star tight clip, you know, on his tie. Everybody’s different. It’s not that he’s boasting, that’s just who am and is preference my mom’s significant other. After you know, in her later years she was with a retired colonel from the marines and he was always colonel. Well, if you then around a marine, you know that you never refer to them as a former marine. They’ll look at you and say, I’m not a former marine, I’m a marine absolutely no longer serving an accurate dude. So the point of all that is that all of us have different preferences. You’ve probably seen some of the USAA commercials where the guy says, you know, when I call they call me Master Sergeant Smith. Right, and I like right, you know, but it it’s knowing what this person will face. It her honoring them right and and learning that and respecting that, and it really is about respect. Yeah, no matter what it is. So can, and we have about half about it, thirty seconds left, tell give us a little bit of an overview about carriages properties here and then we’ll go into a little bit in our next segment about the kind of class of service that you guys offer. Well, carriage, based in gig harbor, has three senior living communities. We have patriots ending in Dupont, Washington, right which is backyard, which is focused on the veteran and and retired military community. We have Patriots Glen in the Like Hills district of Bellevue and we have the lakes at banning and Banning California, about forty five minutes west of Palm Springs. Then we have mission healthcare, a skull nursing facility in Belleview with both subacute rehabilitation and traditional long term care, and we are building a new mission healthcare in retain that is going to be opening this coming spring. That is and then finally, we have Careage Home Health, Renton based in Bellevue, with offices in Bellevue and Renton, but we just got our certificate in need from the state to start carriage home health in Pierce County and we have application in Thurston and that’s a growing part of our business and an another wonderful service that for people of all ages, but particularly for seniors. And Careage Home Health, well, let’s talk about that in our next segment. Great talk to Houston. All right, thank you to then this has been a special presentation of Answers for Elders with CareAge. For more information for CareAge, go to CareAge.com. That’s CareAge.com.
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Originally published November 11, 2017