Happy Nurses' Week! We at Century Park Associates are blessed to have the most wonderful nurses pouring themselves into the lives of our residents day in and day out. We wanted to take a moment and share the stories of our Regional Directors of Care Services, as well as our Director of Care Services.
Chris Frix is Century Park's Director of Care Services. He says he was led to nursing by working in the community, at school and church with the elderly and persons with disabilities. "I found it rewarding and enlightening to God's plan for me" he says, "working with elders comes with appreciation and gratitude like I've rarely known. The rewards working with seniors are vast. The wealth of knowledge and living history they bring is priceless." He says he has so many good memories of our Century Park family. "I can't say any one is my favorite. I do remember one that sticks out at our Bridgeview community. We had a resident who sat in the same chair day after day with short term memory loss. She would tell me about her job and her family regaling me with the same tales day after day when I sat next to her at the end of a long day. We would sit and laugh and she'd never complain when I would return the favor and tell her the same stories about my growing up to her. It was such a nice note to leave on; especially on those difficult days. We shared a lot of happy moments and big full belly laughs." Chris says the best part about working for Century Park is knowing that we are all in this together. He says the staff and residents alike are all working together to make the best life we can for each other. It truly is one big Century Park family.
Elaine Coia is the Regional Director of Resident Care for our Southeast Region. She says she went into nursing as a second career, after her husband decided to retire and close his business. "I wanted a challenge and I knew we were going to move so nursing seemed like a good option. Little did I know how much nurses do!" she says. After moving to Florida, senior living turned out to be the biggest draw. "My first job in senior living came about from my husband talking to a neighbor whose mom lived in an assisted living where they needed a director of nursing - and so it began!" She says there are a lot of great resident stories that make her laugh and some that make her almost cry, but just hearing the residents talk about their life experiences really humbles her! "They've lived ordinary lives by their standards, but from my viewpoint they've seen it all and done it all! Even the way they've managed to cope with the pandemic is inspiring!! They just do what it takes and carry on." Elaine says that without a doubt, the best part of Century Park is the team. "I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people already in just about 3 months and every single one has been a genuine pleasure. Not one single bad egg in the group! I feel incredibly blessed that this opportunity came along just when I needed it and was ready for it."
Eve McMullen is the Regional Director of Resident Care for our Northwest Region. She says that in her junior year of high school her best friend heard about a CNA class at the local (very small) Skilled Nursing Facility and asked if Eve would go with her. She agreed and they both received their certifications. She says, "this was my springboard for the direction my career life would take." About working in senior living, she says, "throughout my childhood I always missed a deeper, richer relationship with my own grandparents due to distance, so during those 10 years as a CNA in skilled nursing, every resident I provided care for and interacted with I did so as if they were my own grandparents." She says she started nursing school after spending 10 years in skilled nursing. Clinical rotations in the medical unit, where 75% of the patients are geriatric, came very natural to her. Her first job as a graduate nurse was on that unit for several years. Eventually she rotated through other specialties in the hospital and even spent some time in Women's Health. Of her journey to finding Century Park, she explains, "I had a gap in employment where I was able stay home with my children for a few years and when I reentered the workforce, I began at a company in which we provided private caregivers to senior living communities. Upon doing routine onsite check ins with my staff and the directors at the various communities we provided service to, I felt a repeated strong and significant message in my heart that senior living was the area of nursing I was supposed to be utilizing my nursing skills. (GP of Post Falls was one of them and I told myself ‘I'm going to work there one day'.)" She says that over the years she has always wondered if her best friend had not asked her to take the CNA class would she have gone this direction. "Looking back, I do not know if I necessarily chose serving seniors or more likely, serving seniors was the path chosen for me."
She says her favorite resident story is of a gentleman who lived across the hall from her office and of all the conversations she had with him. "My favorite thing he did was every time he strolled by, he would raise his big hand with his long slender fingers and say to me "Howdy- doo" in a sing-song tone. That may not seem significant to some, but to me, it put a smile on my face, refreshed my mind and lightened my heart making whatever challenge I was going through or difficult conversation I had or needed to have seem easier to work through. I know he said it to everyone he saw, and he never knew the impact such a simple phrase made on me on long or difficult days or moments. I wish I had told him. He has since passed; his memorial is soon – I will be attending as this is someone I hold very dearly in my heart."
Of Century Park, she states, "All of us are a part of a family. A family that should respect each other and not feel afraid to challenge one another. Challenging positively creates unity and team building. Century Park provides an environment in which one can challenge, thrive, and grow. Century Park encourages one to have a positive work/life balance and always has the residents and associates best interest in mind. Century Park is transparent and trustworthy. Century Park has strong and positive leadership who want to build fruitful relationships with their associates. Century Park strives for a positive culture and respects each other. These reasons are the best part about working alongside the Century Park Family."
Lori Follett, RN, MBA, is our Regional Director of Resident Care for our Mountain Region. She says she became a nurse in response to a God given "calling". "At the age of 3, I found myself intrigued by the healthcare field and requested my first medical kit. I practiced bandaging family members and even our family pets. My favorite shows were Emergency and 911." Adding to that, she has worked in the medical field for over 40 years, starting as a pharmacy technician and then a CNA. She received a BSN from The University of Kansas and has been a registered nurse for 31 years. "It is the most rewarding career I could ever imagine." She says that as a nurse, God has given her the privilege of helping others and she has witnessed some of their greatest triumphs and their greatest challenges. She says, "it has been moving and rewarding to assist with a birth, hold the hand and pray with someone who is dying, or help someone achieve a better life by improving their health. The care we provide as nurses is a legacy that will live on. The patients and families will remember your warm smile, your gentle touch, the knowledge you shared, and the fact that you cared about them." On why she chose senior living, she says that her mom was a Lifestyle Services Director at a local skilled nursing community. "My younger sister and I had fun assisting with entertainment and activities. When I was in middle school, I would visit my Grandma Ida and play cards at the local senior center. I was inspired by listening to the older adults share their stories of hope, courage, and love."
Below are links to Lori's favorite resident stories. She says that our residents are truly redefining aging and living life to the fullest.
Kenny's health declined and he moved to a skilled nursing community. That was his last race, as he passed away from Covid on March 25, 2020. His dad, Paul, is still a resident at The Bridge at Greeley and displays his medal from the race. The quote at the end of this blog was accidentally left out---"I may have been the legs, but Kenny was the heart."
Willard is now 101 years young and lives in a VA community in Nebraska, to be closer to his family. He is still protecting people to this day.
Lori says the best part about working with Century Park is that she is blessed to work for a company that embraces Biblical principles and demonstrates compassion, care, and love in action every day. To God be the Glory!
Mary Beth Ryans is the Regional Director of Resident Care for our Central Region. She has been a nurse for 19 years. She says, "although it took me a while to fulfil my dream, I have never regretted it. I knew at the age of 5 that this was my calling. I had been in the hospital and watched the nurses in their white uniforms and caps and how they cared for all of us in the pediatric ward. At that time parents did not stay with you and so I remember as a scared little girl at night they were there to comfort and care for me." From that time forward, she was hooked and she wanted to care for others. As a new nurse, her plan was to get into the OB department and witness the miracle of life as it unfolded; however, after an interview and offer to work in that department, she felt a nudge speaking to her about our seniors. "I remember the place I was when I felt this calling to care for our elders, and it has been the most rewarding work. I have been blessed to know some of the most interesting people, my favorite stories come from former nurses or Directors of Nursing and how things have changed. They have taken time to pour into me and so I want to honor them by being there in this season of life." She says she is honored to have joined the Century Park family, and that is what she loves best about it, "we are a family, a group of diverse individuals all with a common goal of honoring our residents' lives. My role with Century Park allows me to nurture and mentor our nurses to provide excellent care to those entrusted to us."
We are so thankful for our nurses in our communities, and this Nurses' Week we hope you know you are loved and appreciated! We are excited to continue sharing the stories of nurses, present and past, who have impacted our communities.