Plymouth Harbor has a tradition of honoring our nurses and nursing assistants during Nursing Home Week, and this year was no exception! Nurses and Nursing home appreciation week falls in May, and we like to take this time every year to thank our nurses for all that they do, for they have changed many of our lives for the better. Nursing is not for everyone, and it takes a special kind of person to dedicate their life to this profession. The driving force for many is the simple desire to help others.

Cindy Taylor has worked as a nurse at Plymouth Harbor for over 20 years, always with independent residents through the Home Care department. Her drive to become a nurse stemmed from seeing her grandmother struggle with rheumatoid arthritis. When Cindy saw how much the home health workers brightened her grandmother’s day, she decided that she would become a caregiver. “I knew that this is what I came here to do,” Cindy said. As a nurse, Cindy is challenged daily and finds satisfaction knowing that she is making a positive difference in someone’s life. Throughout her 20 years at Plymouth Harbor, Cindy has gotten to know residents well. “I have known them as independents, and I get to be with them as they need more care,” she said. “I cherish the relationships I have made here.”

Liz Clark has always felt that nursing was for her. Her mother had polio from the age of 10, and has been in a wheelchair ever since. When Liz was 13, she became a candy striper and worked on the cancer floor of the hospital. She loved being able to help others and from that point on, she “did nothing but nursing.” In high school, she continued to work at the hospital, and in 1978 she took on another position working 3-9 p.m. in the infirmary at Plymouth Harbor. Liz has worked at Plymouth Harbor on and off ever since, becoming an LPN and raising kids during the time in-between.

Katie Sowers is one of our newest nurses on campus, and she echoes a similar sentiment. Katie knew she wanted to help people, so she earned her degree in family and marriage counseling. Soon after, she realized she wanted to help in a more hands-on way, and went back to school to become a CNA. She has now been a nurse for almost a year. To her, nursing is a universal way to connect with and help others. “Everyone knows someone who needs help, or has grandparents who are aging,” she said. “As a nurse at Plymouth Harbor, I am able to help people at this stage of life and hear their stories.”

Plymouth Harbor is blessed to have dedicated, kind nurses on our staff. Please take a moment to thank them for all that they do!

Plymouth Harbor staffs over 300 employees, of which 113 have origins outside of the United States. Our employees come to us from all corners of the world, bringing with them their own unique knowledge, skills, ideas, and talents. With such a broad background, our staff comes together to create an inclusive, diverse Plymouth Harbor atmosphere that makes employees feel part of a true family. Each person has their own story of how they came to work at Plymouth Harbor, and learning
their stories helps us better understand how to work together.

Marcos, an E-Tech in the Housekeeping department, was born and raised in Brazil. He earned a degree in architecture and worked for the government for two years before moving to the U.S. As a federal architect, Marcos helped design and develop affordable housing out of recycled materials for those in need. He and his team were able to build a one-bedroom, one-bathroom home in as little as 15 days, all using recycled materials and resources from the rain forest, such as resin to seal the homes from water and humidity. He and his wife Sandra, who also works at Plymouth Harbor have one daughter, who is earning a degree in criminology at USF with the help of a Plymouth Harbor Foundation scholarship.

Billy, a cook in our main kitchen, moved here from the Dominican Republic in 2011 in search of security. He became a citizen one year ago, and is now working towards his dream of becoming a police officer.

Roberto is also a cook in our main kitchen. He and his family moved from Lima, Peru to the U.S. in 2003 with the hopes of providing a better life for their two children. In Peru, Roberto was a business owner who ran his own store selling electrical appliances and tools. He hopes to become a citizen this year. “We are like the United Nations in the kitchen,” said Executive Chef Rene Weder, a Switzerland native.

Inga, one of our housekeepers, is originally from Ukraine. Ever since she was five years old, Inga had dreamed about living in the U.S. It took many years to get the proper immigration documentation, but Inga says it was worth it. Moving to Chicago was a dramatic change, but she loved being able to live in such a friendly, beautiful city. The people of Chicago made her feel so welcome every day, that she “cried many times walking down the street because of how nice people were,” Inga shared. Inga moved to Sarasota after seven years in Chicago, but her daughter still lives there with her husband and Inga’s granddaughter.

Before moving to the U.S. and becoming a citizen, Inga was a jack of all trades. She began her professional career as a civil engineer, first helping create submarines and then creating information bases for telephone companies. Next, she was a business owner, owning both a travel agency and a restaurant in Kiev, the
Ukrainian capital. Her final job before moving the U.S. was as an interior designer, with the president of Ukraine being one of her clients. “I have always liked to create and manage things, and I am crazy about design,” Inga said. Now, she is taking English classes at Suncoast College and plans to take business classes in the future.

In 2006, Nela, another member of our Housekeeping department, immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua to help her family. Before moving, she had spent five years earning a pharmacy degree and two years working in the field. Nela began saving for school when she was 17 years old, and she worked throughout her entire education to pay for school herself. When her aunt offered to help her come to the U.S., Nela made the decision to move so that she could better provide for her parents. “It has been hard work, but I am happy,” Nela said.

For many, moving to the U.S. has provided them with better opportunities and the chance of an improved life for their families. They have all made sacrifices to be here, but the experiences and stories they bring to Plymouth Harbor are what set us apart, and helps us do our job as best as possible. “Plymouth Harbor is a beautiful tapestry of people from many different countries, cultures, and races,” said Tena Wilson, Vice President of Resident and Employee Relations. “Our differences make us unique, but the love and support that we show each other and the residents every day is what makes us family.”

Beth Watson is a native Rhode Islander who comes to us with more than two decades of fundraising experience. Beth graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and has continued her education at various other institutions including Merrimack College, Emerson College, and Harvard University. Upon graduation, she secured a position at USA Today. She spent six years there bettering her writing, presenting, advertising, and sales skills. It was at this job that she was inspired to pursue career opportunities in the non-profit sector.

In 1988 Beth accepted the role of Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the Providence Public Library. Over the next 12 years, Beth advanced the library’s visibility and assisted in her first fundraising project. Together with the Director of Development and Board, Beth helped organize a $2 million capital campaign.

In 2001 Beth took a step back from full-time work to care for her father who had been diagnosed with ALS. During this time, she began working to help launch Rhode Island’s only children’s bereavement center called Friends Way. She considers this project “one of her most significant contributions.”

In 2005 she returned to work full-time as the Director of Development and Communications for Children’s Friend and Services, then as the Director of Institutional Advancement for Redwood Library, and most recently as Director of Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Mercy, a group of Roman Catholic women committed to serving and advocating for those in need.

Throughout her professional life, Beth has employed a four-tiered philosophy: communication, expectations, accessibility, and accountability. Both her professional and personal experience have shaped her into someone who is deeply committed to helping others, and she feels “honored to continue to articulate a faith-based vision and mission for Plymouth Harbor and its donors, bracing them for future, sustainable growth for generations to come.”

Beth has two children. Her son is a boat-builder, and her daughter recently graduated and is now a Physician’s Assistant with plans to specialize in Women’s health and surgery. One of her favorite quotes is from the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus “The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.” In her free time, Beth enjoys gardening, yoga, and paddle boarding. Please join us in welcoming Beth aboard our team!

A new Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care has been chosen, and she is no stranger to Plymouth Harbor. Congratulations, Brandi Burgess!

With a degree in Sociology and Psychology from the College of William and Mary, Brandi started working at Plymouth Harbor in 1999 as an activities coordinator. She also helped manage the social services in the Smith Care Center. When the SCC was opened up to the community, Brandi moved into the role of Admissions and Marketing Coordinator and helped Plymouth Harbor earn a reputation for being not only a great retirement community, but also an excellent skilled nursing and rehab center. She worked as Plymouth Harbor’s social worker and the Positive Approach® to Care educator before being asked to step into the role of Interim Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care.

“Over the last five months, Brandi has lead by example and worked effectively with residents, family members, staff, and contractors to help our Seaside Assisted Living and Starr Memory Care Residence complete a successful first full year of operation,” said Joe Devore, Senior Vice President of Health Services.

Now, after completing her Assisted Living Facility regulatory training and earning her license, she officially takes on her role of Administrator of Assisted Living, the Seaside and the Starr Memory Care Residences.

“As we began our search for an Administrator for Assisted Living and Memory Care, we profiled a professional who had all of the credentials required, coupled with the strong organizational, leadership, and interpersonal skills necessary to administer our Positive Approach® to Care philosophy,” said Harry Hobson, CEO. “We identified Brandi early on as THAT person and so much more. We know Brandi’s heart aligns with our Plymouth Harbor mission, and we are so pleased to see Brandi move into this important leadership position.”

“I am grateful for the support of my husband, Warren, who takes such good care of our family while I have taken on more responsibilities here,” Brandi said. “I am proud and blessed to be a part of what I believe will be the premier Assisted Living and Memory Care home in the Southeast.”

Plymouth Harbor’s Health Services staff conducted their fifth annual Skills Fair for nurses and certified nursing assistants in the Club Room, September 24th-27th. While annual training is required, a skills fair allows it to be “hands on,” which is the best way of ensuring our nursing staff is competent and knowledgeable in the latest techniques and skills.

The Skills Fair was well attended by our team members. The Smith Care Center had a total of 27 CNAs and 25 nurses attend; Our Home Care department had 23 CNAs and 6 nurses attend; And the Seaside Assisted Living and Starr Memory Care Residences had 22 CNAs and 10 nurses attend. That’s a total of 113 direct care team members. Harry Hobson attended as well!

There were several stations where team members were asked to perform a variety of skills from hand washing (required minimum of 20 seconds), catheter care/insertion (using a life-like mannequin donated by the Plymouth Harbor Foundation), glucometer use, infection control, oral care, skin/wound care, and transferring residents using a mechanical lift. Each skill was explained and demonstrated to the attendees who were then required to do a return demonstration of the skill and get it checked off that they completed the skill satisfactorily. Once they completed their skill sheets, they were able to put their name in for a drawing for one of two gift baskets donated by the Foundation. Congratulations to Andrea Davis and Maria Chavarria, the winners of the baskets.

Plymouth Harbor is committed to the education and growth of our nursing staff, and the Skills Fair ensures we continue providing our staff with the training they need to give our residents the care they deserve.

Residents John and Alida DeJongh share insights from their childhood, journey to the United States, career, and family life. World travelers, ask them each their favorite place to visit. You might be surprised… Or, watch the video!

View their April 2018 Insights presentation here: