“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!”

Ozan Gökdemir is a student at New College of Florida (New College). Originally from Ankara, Turkey, he is the first recipient of a scholarship established by Plymouth Harbor resident Akgun Temizer.

In the summer of 2015, Akgun established a $1.3 million scholarship program specifically for students from his high school in Ankara to attend New College. His desire was to bring Turkish honor students to the United States to study and gain experience so they could graduate, return to Turkey, and apply what they learned here. A few months ago, Akgun generously decided to enlarge his contribution to the scholarship fund with a $1.2 million gift. His reason for doing so?

“I am a changed man from this experience,” Akgun says, referring to his relationship with Ozan. Since his arrival in September 2015, Ozan and Akgun have spent much time together, visiting and discussing his studies, their hometown of Ankara, and more.

Because New College is only able to use the income derived from the scholarship fund, the number of students awarded the scholarship varies year by year. Ozan is the only recipient to date, as the scholarship not only covers out-of-state tuition costs ($30,000 per year), but living expenses and transportation to and from Turkey for breaks and holidays. As a result of Akgun’s recent gift, more students will be given the same opportunity as Ozan.

“Originally, I set up this scholarship in my will, to begin after my passing,” Akgun explains. “I am so glad to have begun it now and be able to see the students grow.”

Akgun has received much recognition for his gifts, both locally and in Turkey. In fact, the foundation in Ankara that works with New College to identify students for the scholarship recently published a 30-year anniversary book that highlights Akgun’s scholarship as the largest contribution in their history.

In a note to Akgun in the anniversary book, Ozan wrote, “I’m blessed to be the first seed to blossom in the shade of this honorable and generous man. Can’t thank you enough, Uncle Akgun.”

This scholarship has undoubtedly changed the lives of both Akgun and Ozan. In 2018, two more students are expected to arrive at New College.

Akgun says he is most pleased to work with New College, adding, “I received the most thoughtful and beautiful holiday gift from MaryAnne Young, president of the New College Foundation. She was so busy at the college and preparing for a trip to Boston for the holidays, but she found time to bring this beautiful gift to me. I am so grateful.”

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.

Many elementary students struggle when it comes to reading skills and comprehension. To help address this problem, Sarasota resident Ruthie Maass, a longtime kindergarten teacher who retired more than 15 years ago, began volunteering as a reading tutor.

After some time, she realized that while some schools had a plethora of volunteers, others were lacking. As a result, she began “Rockin’ Readers,” a reading program at Emma E. Booker Elementary (Booker Elementary) that pairs an adult volunteer with a small number of students ranging from kindergarten to second grade. Volunteers work with these students throughout the school year on an individual basis — building vocabulary, comprehension, and creating a positive experience when it comes to reading. The program consists of more than 120 volunteers, including Plymouth Harbor residents Barbara Bock, Celia Catlett, and the late Fran Rehl.

Celia Catlett began working as a volunteer three years ago at Fran Rehl’s suggestion. “I’ve always loved working with children, and before I became involved with Rockin’ Readers, I worked with a local literacy program,” she says. On a weekly basis, Celia works with two students at Booker Elementary. “People there are tremendously enthusiastic,” she adds. “Not only is it a lot of fun, you universally hear stories of how the children’s eyes light up.”

Barbara Bock also began her involvement at the suggestion of Fran Rehl. Seven years later, she feels just as passionate about the program as the day she started. “I was originally drawn to the program because I am a retired teacher, having taught first, second, and third grade,” Barbara says. “And I also really enjoy working with the children.” Barbara uses her talents as a former teacher to help tutor first grade students once each week at Booker Elementary.

It comes as no surprise that Fran Rehl’s number one passion before her passing (outside of her own family) was working with students at Booker Elementary. In fact, she was so passionate about tutoring that she worked with the Plymouth Harbor Foundation to ensure that her memorial gifts would be applied to a reading program that somehow benefited the families of Plymouth Harbor
employees. The Foundation is currently in the process of identifying the need and establishing a program that will fulfill Fran’s generous wish.

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about Rockin’ Readers, contact your neighbors Celia Catlett or Barbara Bock.

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.


picture3There is no doubt that Plymouth Harbor’s residents and employees are dedicated to helping many charities in the Sarasota community. In an effort to organize and combine our efforts, we are installing a brand new, custom collection bin “cabinet” on the Ground Floor of the Tower, located on the open wall across from the doors to the Wellness Center. The cabinet holds openings for four separate bins, which will each be dedicated to a different organization (a rendering is pictured right).

Information on the organizations and their items for donation will be placed above each bin. This information is also listed below. The bin is expected to be installed by mid-December. We hope this will help bring Plymouth Harbor’s donation efforts together and make it easier for those who give!

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels delivers meals to persons in need in the Sarasota community who are unable to provide or prepare a meal for themselves in their home. Serving between 160,000 and 180,000 meals yearly, Meals on Wheels largely operates with the help of its more than 300 volunteers. Plymouth Harbor’s new collection bin will be dedicated to collecting the plastic bags needed to package meals for this organization.

All Faiths Food Bank

All Faiths Food Bank is the local food bank that provides healthy solutions to end hunger in our community. In addition to monthly sorting days with our employees, many of us donate our time and resources to this organization. All Faiths Food Bank’s bin will be dedicated to collecting the following items: packaged or canned fruit or fruit drinks (100% juice and pull-tab tops); cereal; pasta; soup; stew; kid-friendly snacks; peanut butter & jelly; canned tuna, chicken, or salmon; rice; beans of any kind; and powdered milk.

Resurrection House

Resurrection House is a day resource center for the homeless of Sarasota County, where many Plymouth Harbor residents and employees volunteer their time. The organization is always in need of donations, and Plymouth Harbor’s bin will largely collect the following items: clothing — new or gently used, especially jackets and sweatshirts at this time of year, and women’s and men’s jeans (popular waist sizes for men: 30, 32, and 34); sneakers; blankets; and travel-size toiletries.

Sarasota County Animal Services (SCAS)

Plymouth Harbor employee, and longtime SCAS volunteer, Lisa Siroky introduced us to SCAS — a local, volunteer-based shelter in need of donated items for its adoptable dogs and cats. The shelter accepts the following items for dogs: dog toys; tennis balls; wet dog food; Milk Bone treats; dog beds (soft padded kind); old towels, sheets, and blankets; and Martingale dog collars. The following items are accepted for cats: cat toys; Temptations cat treats; cat litter (any brand); wet kitten/cat food (any brand); and cat carriers (gently used or new).


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.


By: Addie Hurst

ike-and-ada-eisenfeld-3Perky and petite is the best way to describe the Eisenfelds. They recently moved here from Lido Surf and Sand because of their friends the Gainsboros and the Biros. They have only been here a few weeks but their apartment looks as if they have been here for years!

Ike is a Brooklyn man, and Ada is a Michigan lady, so how did they meet? Ike was in the Air Force stationed near Mount Clemens and was introduced to Ada. They had a whirlwind courtship with dates wherever Ada was, thanks to the Air Force, and were married a year later.

Ike served two stints in the Air Force and went to dental school at the University of  Minnesota. Although he also studied in New York, he took the Michigan Boards and opened a practice in Mount Clemens where he practiced for 40 years.

Ike and Ada had four children who have given them eight grandchildren. After the children were fairly well-grown, Ada, a University of Minnesota graduate who had originally been an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, became City Commissioner of Mount Clemens for eight years, Mayor of Mount Clemens for four years, and then was Vice-Chair for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and served on many regional boards.

The Eisenfelds love to travel and have seen most of Western Europe, China, Japan, Alaska, New Zealand, and Australia. They still own a home in Mount Clemens and hope to spend summers there.

They both are very pleased with their choice of Plymouth Harbor and are so impressed with the entire staff and with the residents who stop by their table and introduce themselves.

We wish them a warm welcome!


By: Isabel Pedersen

jewell-emswiller-3Aptly named, Jewell Emswiller is one of the newest Plymouth Harbor residents. Jewell chose Plymouth Harbor after much research into Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) here and in Virginia.

Jewell and her husband Carl retired in 2000 and began to winter in Sarasota. Tennis became a primary interest in their lives. In fact, Jewell was a contender in two super senior national tournaments.

Coming from a small town in Arkansas, she met Carl when her family moved to Jacksonville, Florida. They married after a whirlwind courtship and moved, for a time, to Newfoundland where Carl was stationed at the Naval Air Station, a primitive early warning base. It was in Newfoundland that they learned what values were really important.

Richmond, Virginia, came next, where Carl received his degree in pharmacy from the Medical College of Virginia. They then bought a traditional drug store in Leesburg, Virginia, converting it into an office practice of pharmacy. Jewell, giving up on her own career, joined him in his practice, becoming his full partner in business as well as in life.

Their efforts to develop collaboration among health professional students and practitioners were honored by the creation of an annual symposium named for them. Its purpose is to foster increased collaboration among those providing health care.

In Leesburg, they were known for their willingness to serve the community. Jewell served on and chaired the Loudon County Planning Commission, the town council, and was an active member of the Rotary Club. In her spare time, she earned a degree from George Mason University.

In Sarasota, her curiosity led her to become a flower arranger. Her arrangements were a part of “Ringling in Bloom” at the Ringling Museum a few years ago. She is also a past president of the Sarasota Garden Club.

With her camera always handy, she has become a photographer of note, winning the 2012 “Best of Loudon” Photo Award, given by the local newspaper.

Jewell splits her time between Leesburg and Plymouth Harbor. We are pleased that Jewell’s research led her here to Plymouth Harbor. Welcome.


picture1-9The phrase coined for our 50th anniversary stated, Plymouth Harbor celebrates our past and envisions our future.

January 15, 2017, will mark Plymouth Harbor’s 51st year — as we look back, we thank our founder, The Rev. Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, and our many supporters: employees, residents, their families, board members, donors, and members of the community. We also look to the future, seeking ways to innovate and improve for both current and future residents, who we hope will enjoy Plymouth Harbor for more than 50 years to come.

The future is bright for Plymouth Harbor, located in beautiful Sarasota, which has been consistently ranked as one of the top places to live, work, and retire (No. 1 on Gallup-Healthways 2015 Well-Being Index; No. 14 on U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best City To Live In 2016;’ and No. 2 on Livability’s 2015 Top 10 Places to Retire, to name a few).

A new attribute for Sarasota is that of  “one of the best ‘small cities’ in the U.S.,” on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016 list. This list features the top 15 small cities around the U.S. as voted by more than 100,000 readers, highlighting cities that may be scaled down in size, but still offer big-city entertainment and activities.

Plymouth Harbor itself stands as a “small city” — a close-knit community focused on the best in daily living, dining, wellness, and care for our residents. When we look to the future, we realize the definition of “the best” will certainly change over time.

 According to a recent survey by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, emerging trends in our industry point to items like increased use of technology to help sustain independent lifestyles; the expansion of services “beyond” the walls of the organization; and the biggest trend seen across the U.S.— an increased emphasis on choice and value. Older adults want more choices, more control, a redefinition of what community means, and convenience both inside and outside of the community.

Whatever the future holds, Plymouth Harbor is committed to evolving and revolutionizing care for our residents in the years ahead.