Nancy Nichols Clure Groff isn’t one to let the sun go down on her sunset years.
Bright, smiling and full of energy, the petite powerhouse is passionate about starting a whole new career as the owner of a business dedicated to health care compliance.
In 2017, Groff became the founder of Nursing Educators Resource Group LLC, which was started in response to state health surveys showing that a high percentage of nursing homes were found to be out of step with many procedures, leading to a higher rate of patient readmissions.
“Both Medicare and insurance groups are trying to avoid this, in view of the costs and in the best interests of patients,” Groff says.
Nursing Educators Resource Group provides lectures, demonstrations and training to various organizations and local hospitals. Groff and her team also help with the training at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, using the state-of-the-art simulation lab for their students.
A long road to nursing
In her 77 years, Groff has always focused on caring for others.
“I wanted to be a nurse from the time I was 4,” says Groff, who got sidelined from that career when she married young and had a family.
Graduating from Manheim Township High School in 1960, she married her husband, Lee “Buddy” Groff, in 1961. He worked for RCA and they had two children, daughter Tammy, who has cerebral palsy, and son Charles, who has an intellectual disability.
“Everybody dreams of having perfect children, so that wasn’t exactly what we expected,” says Groff, adding that it took a while to make sure her children were doing well before she started her lifelong dream of a nursing career.
Tammy Groff graduated from Solanco High School and now manages the laundry at Evergreen Estates. She is an accomplished cook and does beautiful cross-stitch work, her mother says. Charles Groff attended Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 classes and works with Friendship Community, painting artwork and note cards.
With the goal of becoming Nancy the Nurse, Groff took classes at Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, then Millersville University. In May 1987, she graduated from Brandywine School of Nursing after also attending Immaculata University. She was 45, but she wasn’t done yet.
After years of working as a nurse, Groff returned to Immaculata University for her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree.
“So at age 63, I finally completed my dream,” she says. “And I was on the honor roll, which had never happened to me before.”
During those years, Groff worked as a nurse at various hospitals and health care facilities, including St. Joseph Hospital medical surgical nursing, Lancaster General Hospital cardiac unit, Garvey Pharmacy as a nurse educator and IV therapy nurse, Home Health as a home care nurse and case manager, Willow Valley as a nursing supervisor and educator, and Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community as an educator, teaching nurses aide classes and as a certified CPR instructor.
She says the best job she had was teaching nursing students in the LPN program at Lancaster County Career and Technology Center.
“My specialty with the students was med/surg floors, but particularly at Conestoga View with the ventilator, IV, high-tech and very compromised patients. It was extremely rewarding,” says Groff, who still meets her students in the work world.
Retirement and a new career
Knowing that she could have an impact on others’ lives served as the impetus for finding a new career after retirement. Then came the idea for Nursing Educators Resource Group.
To get her business off the ground, Groff turned to SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon, working with Tom Murphy as her business mentor.
“Being a registered nurse, I knew nothing about starting a business, about setting up a business plan, taking out taxes, the legalities of creating a small business,” Groff says. “My SCORE mentor had me complete a 12-step plan and I attend roundtable workshops. All of these gave me tools that helped me prepare for the business side of my project. I would have been lost without SCORE.”
“I am very impressed with Nancy’s initiative,” says Murphy, whose business and education background involves owning a bed-and-breakfast inn, teaching and serving as a school principal. “She began with an idea of providing quality professional compliance advice and direction to area health care providers. She is now ready to expand her services regionally, to states and eventually nationally.”
Groff calls Murphy “a jewel” who is always giving her pep talks. One of Murphy’s directions to Groff was to obtain a lawyer. Her cousin, Will Watt Campbell, is a lawyer and guided her to Christopher J. Churchill, a health and Medicare lawyer with Barley Snyder. Churchill’s wealth of knowledge proved to be critical to the nursing entrepreneur.
“We know these services are needed because we have all worked in the hospitals and retirement homes in Lancaster County,” says Groff, noting that issues like recurring urinary tract infections have been linked to incorrect insertion of the catheter, which can be corrected through education on proper procedures.
“The mission of Nursing Educators Resource Group is to provide advice and training to the community, organizations, schools and health care facilities,” Groff says. “Our group has more than 25 years of experience in multiple disciplines of nursing and clinical practice.”
Groff works closely with retirement communities like Moravian Manor in Lititz, setting up in-house services that cover topics such as ethics, medication, disease processes, new Medicare rulings, pharmacology, new drugs, wound care, colostomy care, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, respiratory care and more.
“Moravian Manor has found the partnership with Nursing Educators Resource Group to be one of strong value and quality,” says Lynn Swisher, vice president of health care at Moravian Manor. “Expert assistance with design of SIM training modules, on-site education programs and one-to-one education has been such a benefit to the professional education of our staff. They are a valued education partner.”