I'm a unit manager in a nursing home. I came here back in 2014, and it's been an amazing experience. I enjoy the comradery. It’s very diverse. There are people here from all different walks of life. People here put the residents first before anything.
I come from a family of nurses. I wanted to do something that made a difference in the world. I wanted to get up in the morning and know that when I get to work, I'm going to make a difference in somebody's life.
I took care of my grandmother who had throat cancer for a long period of time. We had her in hospice care and took care of her at home. The nurse we had was amazing. She helped the quality of my grandmother’s life. She inspired me. I went to school to become a nurse and it was the best thing I’ve done in my life.
COVID-19 has been difficult. The biggest challenge [in 2020] was fear. Fear of the unknown. I had many sleepless nights worried about my residents and what could be happening to them because of this vicious predator. That’s how I refer to COVID-19. We never knew what we were going to walk into. I think a struggle for me was to see the fear in some of our residents’ eyes. They wondered were they going to make it through the pandemic. It was hard to watch that.
In a long-term care facility, you have bonds with your residents because some of them have been here for many years. They greet you every morning with a smile, and you bring them coffee. You have conversations with them.
Isolation took a toll on all our residents and the staff. Residents were asking, “Am I ever going to be able to see my family again?” It was heartbreaking.
Our teams, our management, and coworkers all came together like the family that we are to help each other, to protect each other. We were doing double shifts to make sure that people are okay, staff is covered. Administrators, executive directors helping us on the floor as much as they can. They were providing all the support they could for us. During such a negative pandemic, we tried to keep our people here very positive.
Nursing homes are viewed very negatively. I want people to know that there are good nursing homes out here. Here, we pursue excellence. It’s about being involved in your resident’s life and having a good connection with your co-workers.
[Last year], people placed signs outside of our facility. They said things like, “Thank you for saving a life.” “Thank you for keeping my grandmother safe.” “Thank you for keeping my mother safe.” “You guys are heroes.” That was a proud moment for me to see that.
The pandemic has changed me as a nurse. The pandemic has taught me the importance of teamwork. I can’t stress enough how communication can change the world. Knowing your residents and everything about them can change the world. I think because of our communication, we were able to save lives. We were able to keep people safe. I felt good going home, knowing that I protected somebody.