My Story: 40 years of Blessings in Long-Term Care
As we recognize National Long-Term Care Administrator’s Week, I wanted to share my story as a caregiver and long-term care administrator.
Why did I choose long-term care? There are too many reasons to list, but I have had many days when a patient told me they appreciated me, or I received a call from a family saying how much they appreciated the care we provide.
I began as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at the Mullens Hospital in 1979. A year later, I began working nights at Raleigh General Hospital as a CNA and graduated from high school in 1980. Soon, I went to work at Steven’s Clinic Hospital as a CNA.
I got married in 1983 and we had our first daughter in 1984. Samantha was born with Spina Bifida which made me grow up fast. I knew from the moment I met her I wanted to spend my life helping others. I was not sure how I would do it or why God had chosen to give me such a special child, but I knew he would never give me more than I could handle.
We were devastated when the hospital closed in 1986, especially because my husband and I both worked there. However, like so many times before, God made a way. I received a call from a friend, Registered Nurse Helen Sine said she was leaving the hospital to become the Director of Nursing at a new nursing home in Gary, W.Va. Sine asked if I would come work for her there.
I remember driving down the hill to McDowell Nursing & Rehabilitation Center for the first time and talking to God and asking if this is where he wanted me? From the moment I walked in the center, I knew. I was at home. Although the work was hard, it was one of the most rewarding jobs I had ever had. In 1990, we were blessed with our second daughter, Savanna. At the same time, I was approached by our administrator about applying for the Activities Director (AD) position.
While working as the AD, I worked closely with our Social Worker and learned how he helped patients and their families. At the age of 34, I decided to go to college. I worked 32 hours a week and carried 12-hour semesters with two small children at home. My husband, Calvin, my parents, and in-laws were all very supportive.
In 2002, the Lord called our daughter Samantha home. We were overwhelmed with grief, but when I returned to work, several patients came to hug me and tell me they loved me. I realized they were my family and were also grieving as Samantha would volunteer at our center. Just like family, we got through our grief together.
In 2006, AMFM Nursing & Rehabilitation Centers’ owner John Elliot gave me yet another opportunity and offered me the Executive Director role at the same center I began my long-term care career.
I have been able to achieve what God has asked of me and although this past year has been very stressful, I am still honored to serve at McDowell N&RC. There are days I drive down the hill to our center and remind myself how I am responsible for everything that occurs there. Sometimes I tell God I don’t know if I can do it, but he reminds me of the amazing team we have, and I am not alone.
I have a group of managers who will do whatever it takes to ensure our patients receive the best care possible. The nurses, CNAs, dietary aides, housekeeping, activities, and business office employees work endlessly to ensure patients have what they need, serve great meals, keep the center clean and provide a home-like atmosphere.
I remember a patient would meet me at the door every morning and ask how I was, and I would always respond “I am blessed and highly favored.” One day she met me at the door and told me to ask how she was. When I did, she responded “I am blessed and highly flavored.” We both laughed.
There are numerous stories I could share, but I know our patients and their families have blessed me and it is my prayer that I have blessed them as well.
Patty Lucas, Executive Director
McDowell Nursing & Rehabilitation Center