“History has provided us with many examples of nurses’ contributions to mankind. But what sets us apart as a recognized profession?” asks Karen Novak, Director of Health Services. “Tradition! Florence Nightingale was a change agent and seemed to do it without compromise; leadership techniques and advocacy were many of her strong points. It is important to have these traits to
provide nursing students with the tools necessary to promote health.”

The tradition of nursing care is alive and passionate at Plymouth Harbor. Suncoast Technical College’s (STC) Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program partnered with Plymouth Harbor’s Smith Care Center (SCC) years ago, but somehow that tradition fell through the cracks. Dedicated leadership at Plymouth Harbor decided to get things back on track, and the revival of the tradition resumed in November 2016.

STC’s LPN program is a one-year program where students gain both classroom and real-world experience — completing six months in a “freshman” course and their second six months in an advanced course. As a result, half of their time is spent honing skills in the classroom, while the other half is spent completing student clinicals at numerous healthcare sites, including Plymouth Harbor.

According to Clinical Instructor Michelle Boudreaux, there are three clinical instructors. Students rotate between healthcare facilities, allowing them to work in different environments with different instructors. Boudreaux notes that while the maximum number of students allowed by law in a class is 12, STC limits theirs to seven, ultimately providing a much more in-depth, hands-on experience.

By working in environments such as Plymouth Harbor, students are able to learn delegation, management, and can witness first-hand how facilities function as a team. At the end of each clinical rotation, students are asked to provide a “head-to-toe” assessment to their instructor, along with a Medicare note and patient history. Additionally, the students conduct a daily “post-conference” in which they discuss items that came up and how they solved them. Under supervision, students are able to perform general patient care and some skills such as IVs, dressing changes, vital signs, and patient assessments.

To succeed in nursing, a strong and broad foundation must be laid to build upon. SCC’s tenured nurses are all too happy to contribute to building this foundation, seeing these novice nursing students bloom right before their eyes. For some SCC nurses, it is a completion of the circle they started many years ago, as they, too, were in the shoes of the students not so long ago. SCC LPN, and STC graduate, Manny Flores remembers it well, and now facilitates the growth of many students as they learn.

“To touch the life of a student and give them wings to grow is our goal here at Plymouth Harbor,” Karen says. “Who knows, you might find them one day in our healthcare center taking care of you!”

Every year every skilled nursing facility across the country is surveyed by its state licensing agency as directed by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The purpose of this survey is to determine the level of compliance each facility has with the approximately 200 rules and regulations that apply to skilled nursing facilities. These annual surveys are unannounced and usually involve four to six surveyors who spend an entire week reviewing the facility.

Smith Care Center’s (SCC) annual survey began on Monday, November 14, bright and early. The survey team began by touring SCC, including the kitchen, as well as conducting resident visits to
determine their and family members’ level of satisfaction. Questions, comments, and concerns expressed by residents, family, and visitors typically drive the next phase of the survey. In addition, staff are queried on an array of topics; delivery of services and care are observed.

We had an idea that something special was about to happen when the lead surveyor told us that they would be leaving early Wednesday afternoon (instead of Thursday or Friday). At the surveyors’ exit conference with SCC administrative staff we were informed that we had a deficiency-free survey for resident care! For comparison, the State and National average is about seven deficiencies. A deficiency-free survey is very rare.

It is a pleasure to work with such a great team of professionals in SCC. There is a dedication to doing things right and performing at a high level. We are fortunate to have the talent and support of so many staff members throughout every department of Plymouth Harbor. There is a common theme I have found with our staff. We truly care about the people who reside in Plymouth Harbor and we enjoy assisting you to live life to the fullest.

gh6By: Judy Sarnowski

“Smith’s Best” is a recognition that began in 2013 to honor Smith Care Center’s (SCC) staff role models. We consider these honorees to be our “Hall of Fame” — staff who have performed at a very high level over a long period of time. This is not a monthly recognition; in fact, since 2013, only 11 people have received the Smith’s Best honor.

On November 3rd, SCC staff, along with residents and Plymouth Harbor administration, recognized the 10th and 11th Smith’s Best recipients and first resident honorees. It should be no surprise that this tribute went to George and Florence Heitler!

George is Plymouth Harbor’s very own “Music Man.” His love of theater and music prompted him to share his talents and become a volunteer in SCC in the year 2000. After a decade-and-a-half and almost 200 performances leading sing-alongs at monthly birthday parties and holiday programs, George and his contingent of talented vocalists and musicians are now the longest-running entertainment production in Plymouth Harbor history.

George was no stranger to volunteer work prior to his move to Plymouth Harbor. He had served on the boards of the Chicago Public Library, the Henry Booth Settlement House, and the Longboat Key Democratic Club, and donated countless hours working with Meals on Wheels. Even at a young age, he wanted to be a man of the people and follow in the footsteps of his idol Abraham Lincoln. To that end, he received his law degree from Columbia Law School and served as legal counsel for the Army during World War II, and for National Blue Cross and Blue Shield, setting up health benefits for federal employees until he retired in 1981. Florence can also be proud of her volunteer work, which includes serving with the League of Women Voters and the Citizen Information Service, providing voter assistance to Smith Care Center residents, working with Meals on Wheels, and recording books for the blind.

SCC residents and staff consider themselves lucky to reap the benefits of such a multi-talented couple who had the determination and fortitude to make a positive difference in the lives of others. It is with great humbleness and gratitude that we bestow the honor of being the first non-staff members to receive the Smith Care Center’s “Smith’s Best” Award.

 

img_1145-3It is no secret that our workforce is shrinking and our need for workers is growing. To that end, Plymouth Harbor is participating in initiatives in Sarasota to address this shortage and explore how we can help create awareness of career paths in our industry.

Thursday, October 27th, was the third annual State of Jobs conference, hosted at Suncoast Technical College. This conference was put on by the Chamber of Commerce Talent 4 Tomorrow initiative, and invites high school students to attend, explore career tracks, and prepare for college by interacting with and learning from local businesses and schools.  At the same time, the conference gives the business community an opportunity to work with students and hear firsthand about what interests them and what they need to succeed.

This year’s program offered seven career tracks for students to explore — healthcare, information technology, entrepreneurship/business, manufacturing/engineering, hospitality/tourism, marketing/design, and arts/culture.

Nearly 400 high school students from all over Sarasota County attended the event. Plymouth Harbor was a participant this year, and our goal was two-fold:

1.)  Introduce Plymouth Harbor to the emerging workforce

2.) Inspire students to consider service to seniors as a career path

To accomplish this, we hosted a panel discussion in the Healthcare track that we entitled “Third-Age Nursing.” Tena Wilson, Vice President of Support Services, served as our moderator, and we invited Danny Bushman, SCC CNA; Lauren Krause, SCC Restorative Nurse; Bridget Chapman, Home Care Nurse; and Manny Flores, SCC CNA, to be our panelists. The discussion included our panelists’ perspective on why they chose the nursing field, particularly nursing in senior services, why they remain in it, and how they feel that they truly make a difference in the lives of residents.

To learn more about the State of Jobs conference, you can visit www.stateofjobs.org. Additionally, we plan to share details from the data collected at the conference in a later issue.

 

picture2Making the jump from a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a great accomplishment. It takes hard work and dedication, and is truly something to be proud of.

Over the years, several Plymouth Harbor employees, in both our Home Care and Smith Care Center departments, have made this transition while working here. We would like to recognize these individuals below, and have also included a few comments from these dedicated employees.

Smith Care Center

Danny Bushman, LPN 2016

Nancy Chan, LPN 2016

Many Flores, LPN 2004

Tara Mitchell, LPN 2010

Home Care 

Bridget Chapman, LPN 2009

Haley Coles, LPN 2015

“My love for helping people is what made me decide to go into nursing. Working at Plymouth Harbor has overall been a good experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.” —Haley Coles

“I decided to go into nursing because I feel that caring for others is especially rewarding. What I enjoy most about working here at Plymouth Harbor is making my residents smile.” —Danny Bushman

 

Epicture123ach year, Plymouth Harbor holds a Skills Fair that allows health care and nursing staff to demonstrate competence in skills that are used daily to provide the best possible care for our residents in the Smith Care Center, the Callahan Center, and those assisted through our Home Health program. This year’s Skills Fair will take place on October 5th, 6th, 19th, and 20th.

During the Skills Fair, various test stations are designed to address topics such as safe transfers, skin integrity, hearing aids, oral care, pericare, foot care, IV insertions, wound care, and more. All health care staff members are required to complete each station and assure competence. There are stations set up specifically for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), in addition to stations created for both.

“In order to plan for the future, one has to know where you are now,” says Karen Novak, Director of Health Services. “The Skills Fair is an excellent way to keep our staff members’ skills sharp and up-to-date on best practices and new equipment.”

Plymouth Harbor began the Skills Fair three years ago, which has been growing larger and more successful with each passing year. This year, Smith Care Center’s therapy team will be onsite to work with staff on hip precautions and transfers, utilizing lifts, dietary needs, medication administration, and additional “hot topics.”

As residents become more and more medically complex, Plymouth Harbor’s nursing team is dedicated to providing the knowledge and expertise to address any and all needs. Demonstrated competence ensures better outcomes for our residents, and the annual Skills Fair serves as the perfect time to increase and enhance these skills.

 

By: Randy Powell, M.D., Plymouth Harbor’s Medical Director

Picture14Why should you get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a serious disease with nearly 30,000 deaths each year in the United States. Eighty-five percent of those are in people over 65 years of age. Flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, flu viruses are circulating at higher levels. If people are willing to get it, the flu vaccine significantly reduces the amount of viral exposure.

Can you get the flu from the vaccine?

The flu vaccine has been improved to the point that there is no significant risk of illness or reaction. It is possible to get mild, short-lasting side effects from the vaccine, such as aches or soreness where the shot was given, but the vaccine cannot cause the flu. While the flu shot is preferred, people who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs can get the recombinant flu vaccine (or nasal spray), which was produced without any egg products.

How does the vaccine work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies (cells that help fight infections) to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These serve as protection against infection from viruses that are found in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against influenza viruses that research shows will be most common during the upcoming season.

What types of vaccines are available?

Human defenses become weaker with age, which places older adults at a higher risk of severe illness from influenza. The standard flu vaccine protects you from three different flu viruses. Those who are 65 or older can receive the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, which is four times stronger than the regular flu shot. Plymouth Harbor will be offering this preservative-free, high-dose vaccine this year. The vaccination process is most effective if everyone participates. Join the team!

*Resources used for this article include: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

mural1If you’ve stopped by the Smith Care Center’s (SCC) Therapy room recently, you might have noticed a change of scenery. In July, the SCC Therapy team welcomed a new mural on one of its walls, depicting a colorful and inviting beach scene.

The mural is the work of self-taught artist Carol Roman, who is also the mother of Tony Roman in our Dining Services department. Carol is a talented local artist, having produced artwork for Bradenton Healthcare and Peach’s Restaurants, in addition to specializing in artwork for individual homes, pool areas, furniture, and more.

The mural illustrates a beautiful shoreline with fencing along the beach, an anchored boat, islands off in the distance, and palm trees seemingly extending into the therapy room. While at first glance it may seem mural2like your typical beach scene, you may want to take a closer look. Each member of the SCC Therapy team has a personalized item incorporated into the mural. And if you are lucky, they just may give you a clue behind the meaning.

This mural is only the start for the SCC Therapy team. In the coming weeks, they hope to add inspirational quotes to the room’s remaining walls. With no
windows to the outside, the team felt this was the perfect way to incorporate the unique location and atmosphere of Plymouth Harbor. After stopping multiple visitors in their tracks and receiving several comments from residents, it seems they were right. If you are interested in viewing the new mural, simply stop by the SCC Therapy office and take a look.

 

ActivityTeamSCCTraditionally, when someone is asked to describe activities in a skilled nursing environment, they might envision a “riveting” game of bingo, or a balloon volleyball match. Today, Judy Sarnowski, Smith Care Center’s Activity Director, and her team are doing away with that notion. In addition to Judy, the Smith Care Center (SCC) team consists of Erica Andrejkovics, Virginia Bailey, and Jason Redmon.

Before coming to Plymouth Harbor, Judy taught for 12 years in the Indiana school system. This experience has absolutely shaped Judy’s approach to her position as Activity Director, providing meaningful leisure activities that help to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit of SCC residents. Judy and her team tend to focus on range of motion activities in the morning, and on cognitive stimulation activities in the afternoon that offer a broader appeal — for example, the game “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” The team also differentiates itself by incorporating technology — including everything from computer games to iPods and iPads to YouTube and Wii games. And, if requested, they will even facilitate FaceTime with residents and their family members.

While sharing the same vision, each member of the SCC activity team brings his or her own unique approach to the job. According to Judy, that is what makes their team work so well together. Jason graduated from University of South Florida with a degree in Psychology. He worked in the healthcare activity field for a few years before leaving to pursue interests in both teaching and IT.  After only four years away, he felt a calling to go back into activities. Erica is similar to Judy in that she has spent many years working in the field of education, and currently serves as a middle school math teacher in addition to her part-time position in SCC. Virginia seemed to always have had her sights set on the healthcare industry, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services, and earning her certification as an Activity Assistant and a Certified Nursing Assistant.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have a team that shares my passion to make a difference in the lives of others. It is delightful to work with those who have both the education and background to assist me in providing our residents activity choices that are fun, relevant, and meaningful,” Judy says. “We are a cohesive team that complements one another, and I think that is a rare find.”

There is no doubt that when you visit SCC, you’ll see the activity team in action.

 

Construction for the Northwest Garden project is moving forward on schedule. Test piles measuring the integrity of the foundation were successful, and as evidenced by the photos shown below, construction has begun.

Staff is working diligently alongside our construction team to ensure that every detail is met for the new Memory Care Center, Assisted Living, and Independent Living residences. In the meantime, we thought it would be interesting to share some progress photos directly from the construction site.

These photos depict the construction site before and after the demolition of the Cooling Tower, the removal of the North Garden second-floor balconies (which will be incorporated into the new building), and resident construction viewings in N-313. Please stay tuned for continued progress updates.

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