by James Coburn
It’s easy for Joe Chappell to say what he admires about his nursing staff.
“I just admire how compassionate they are,” he said. “You’re only as good as your staff.”
The Chappell family also owns the Golden Age Nursing Center across the street from Ash Creek Place, Willow Creek Care Center in Guthrie and the Golden Oaks Village assisted care living center in Stillwater.
Ash Street Place Assisted Living Center in Guthrie strives to keep its residents at a high quality of life, said Tammy Williams, LPN and director of nursing.
“She doesn’t leave this building at 4 p.m.,” Chappell said. “This building goes home with her on nights, on weekends. She gets phone calls if someone falls. She doesn’t live close. She lives in southern Logan County and I get phone calls from her on a Saturday night at 10 p.m. and she’s here because someone has fallen.”
If someone falls, Williams come up with a plan of correction. She constantly is thinking of ways if something happens to a resident to keep it from happening again, Chappell said.
She knows about challenges people face after an injury.
“Years ago I had been in a car wreck and had my leg broke,” she said. “I was 9 years old. I got out the day after my birthday. And the way the nurses treated me and took care of me made me tell my parents, ‘I’m going to be a nurse.’”
Williams’ talents go beyond nursing, Chappell said. She is also a counselor. Quality nurses are scares and can work anywhere they chose, he said.
“It takes a special nurse to care for the elderly I think,” Chappell said. “You have to have a heart for it because if you didn’t you’d be working somewhere else.”
Williams could work in a doctor’s office and leave at 4 p.m., but she’s attached to her residents at Ash Creek Place.
She can often be seen working crossword puzzles with residents, who tell her stories about how Guthrie used to be.
“I think it needs to be a home environment. You need to love the residents and be able to talk to them,” said Williams who likes to spend her leisure time caring for people.
“I go home and take care of my grandkids,” she said.
At Ash Creek she knows her goal is to keep residents as independent as possible, Williams said. Many times Ash Street Place accepts residents who have been in a nursing home but have become dependent on the assistance they received at a nursing home.
“We have to transition them, kindly, to independence again, because they are expecting more help than we want to provide for them, because our goal is to keep them independent,” Chappell said.
Chappell explains to every resident who moves to Ash Street Place that assisted living means they must be able to self-transfer and get to the dining room. They can do that with an electric cart or a wheel chair, but they need to be able to get out of bed and into the wheel chair to get there, he said.
“We certainly will provide skilled care for someone who gets sick. We may have someone who temporarily can’t get out of a chair for a couple of days, or we don’t think they’re safe walking to the dining room.”
Williams’ expertise is seeing they can provide the appropriate level of care for each resident by doing assessments to ensure the facility can meet their needs. She is on the phone with a doctor when she notices subtle changes in a resident’s health.
“She’s dedicated to it. I never have to worry when an inspection comes in,” Chappell said.
Williams has worked for the Chappell family for 12 years since earning her nursing degree at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. For the last six years she has assisted the residents at Ash Street Place.
Chappell’s grandfather, Leo Chappell, bought the Golden Age Nursing Center when Joe was 5 years old in 1961. Joe’s father had talked him into purchasing the nursing home.
“My granddad bought the building. My dad rented the building from him and owned the business,” Chappell said. He has always said you can walk through Golden Age and see the evolution of the nursing home by going from wing to wing.
Construction is adding 12 rooms to Golden Age today to add to the privacy of its residents, he said. They will be licensed for the same amount of residents, he explained.
“We already have a state-of-the-art gym designed for senior citizens with 16 different machines that are air-pressure powered,” Chappell said of providing a complete workout. “We’re also open to anyone over 50 to work out there free.”
The new wing will also provide a pool in the basement for water therapy and recreation. A pre-k class will also open four 4-year-olds to attend school in the same manner as what already occurs at Willow Creek and at Golden Oaks.
This intergenerational type of program is growing across the U.S. Children learn tolerance and connectivity to other generations in a time when extended families no longer live together for the most part.
“Not only do the kids entertain the residents, but the residents entertain the kids,” Chappell said. “It puts a spark in the eye of the people that live in the nursing home.”