Skilled Nursing Care Week: Nurses thrive with in a family atmosphere

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2024

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For nearly 20 years, Gina Richardson was on the line, boning hams for Hormel Foods Corps.

For Richardson, the repetitious nature of the job could be tedious and she wanted more.

“I always wanted to be a nurse, but love and life put me down a different path,” Richardson said. “I went to work at Hormel and boned hams for 17 years. That’s all I ever did, but I had the opportunity where I was able to quit and go back to school.”

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And that’s what she did, heading back to school at the age of 40 to pursue a degree in nursing. That career has led to a position as an RN at Good Samaritan Society-Comfocare for the past 12 years and it’s been one of the best decisions of her life.

“It was definitely a great decision,” Richardson. “I wish I would have made it sooner.”

Richardson went to school at Riverland Community College and her clinicals took her to a position working with the elderly. She found the experience rewarding and after working a job in the home and spending time as a casual call nurse, she came to Comforcare.

Richardson said that it was a road of good fortune that brought her to the family atmosphere at Comforcare.

“I feel it’s rewarding,” Richardson said. “It makes me feel good to help people. It really does.”

That feeling is manifested throughout Comforcare and recognized by Administrator Clara Stitt who sees the work the nurses put in each and every day.

For her, seeing the drive demonstrated by the staff in care of the residents is something that gives her a piece of mind.

“It means I can sleep at night,” Stint said. “I trust that the nurses are going to bring something to me when it needs to be brought to me, but I also trust that I don’t have to micromanage them.”

Comforcare has been able to celebrate the best of both worlds through its staffing. The week prior they celebrated National Nurses Week with an appreciation lunch and then this coming week it will celebrate National Skill Nursing Care Week with even more activities — for both staff and residents.

“We truly do work as a team,” Stitt said. “It’s a beautiful dance that we do with the departments working together to take care of the residents.”

The foundation of that care is trust, demonstrated first through the nursing staff itself and built through a staff with a very low turnover rate.

Both Richardson and Stitt said that a large portion of the nurses staffed at the facility are long term with many having worked there for 10 years or more and others have worked at least four to five years.

With that kind of commitment, the trust seems to come naturally and allows staff to work at a higher efficiency. Richardson uses the example of her and another nurse she partners with to demonstrate that very thing.

“There’s strengths she has and strengths I have,” Richardson said. “We just know them because you’ve been with them for so long. You trust their judgment and you trust their abilities. It’s just all the teamwork.”

The generated teamwork and trust filters down to the residents themselves, who become used to seeing the same faces on a daily basis.

“When the regular staff are on vacation or are off for something, the residents are like, ‘Where is the normal nurse?’” Still said.

Contributing to the dedication is that caring for others never really gets shut down, even after the nurses leave their shifts.

“It’s who you become all the time,” Richardson said with a smile.

Both Richardson and Stitt say they are proud to work in a facility with so many nurses dedicated to care, echoing each other in saying that several staff have had family members stay at Comforcare over the years.

It’s a career that Richardson says is not only rewarding on a personal level, but also a professional level.

“I would tell them that in a nursing home, when you’re working there, you get hands-on education on all sorts of things,” Richardson when advising others to consider the career. “You get a knowledge of the whole picture and you also have a lot of abilities to make decisions. You get to use a lot of  your skills in the nursing home.”

“The atmosphere here is like a home,” she added.