Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

Donna Ruggiano, MSN-Ed, RN, and Director of Resident Care at Island City Assisted Living (ICAL), was recognized as a HealthCap Hero in January 2021. HealthCap is a Risk Management and Insurance company specializing in senior care facilities.
Peter M. Feeney, chief executive officer of HealthCap, applauded Ruggiano for her exceptional dedication, commitment, and contribution to those she serves, and for going above and beyond the call of duty.
“You are an inspiration to all of us,” Feeney said.
Ruggiano has worked at ICAL since March of 2020, starting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. From what the staff has said, she hit the ground running when she started working there. But it started only as a “temporary” job for Ruggiano, she said. “But then COVID took over.”
“I’m a helper kind of person. I don’t like to sit still,” she explained.
The changes and improvements Ruggiano has instituted have made a huge difference in the facility in a short amount of time, the staff pointed out, and her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She helped them rise above the uncertainty of the pandemic, they said, to create a safe place for team members to work and for the residents to live.
“I don’t think we could have gotten a better nurse anywhere,” the application stated. “She will go the extra mile to make sure people understand what they are dealing with.
“She understands health care and she can put it in understandable terms so that they can make an informed decision.”
Ruggiano has an extensive history in the health care field, about 42 years. She started her career as a paramedic and firefighter in Eaton Rapids for about 12 years.
“When she was on the fire department, she was as good as any male firefighter,” said Roger McNutt, Eaton Rapids Fire Department Chief. “And she was also a good paramedic when in the ambulance,” he added.
She transitioned into emergency/trauma care for over 21 years, then worked in-home health care services and became Senior Care Manager for Medicare clients. She was also an Adjunct Clinical faculty member, teaching nursing fundamentals to students at community college.
Ruggiano has trained ICAL employees in personal protective equipment (PPE) procedures and has reviewed infection control protocol with them to assure compliance with the pandemic restrictions. This training also served to increase employees’ care knowledge and increase their pay, which ultimately can increase their longevity at ICAL. The residents and staff still remain COVID-free.
“I’m just doing what I get paid to do. The recognition shows me that my work and talent aren’t for naught,” Ruggiano said. “But I’m having too much fun to pay attention to the accolades, though,” she added. “It’s the best post-retirement job ever.”