by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
It’s easy to understand why Titus Mason is the Alzheimer’s Unit nurse manager at Grace Living Center, NW 10th Street, Oklahoma City.
He meets you where you are in life. He seems at ease in any situation. And he is a kind, approachable young man with a capacity to learn and engage with new situations in life.
Mason has a confident smile that sets you at ease. He’s been loyal to Grace for 11 years, since before graduating from Canadian Valley Vocational Technical Center in El Reno in 2013.
“In my personal opinion, the most competent nurses, LPNs that I know came from Canadian Valley,” Mason said. “It’s the most difficult program by consensus. They take you through the wringer. I’m very glad I went there.”
At first he was a CNA. He earned this distinction in 2003 when he was in high school at Putnam City North in Oklahoma City. Initially Grace was a college job, he said.
“As I stayed here, I started forming bonds with the residents and I formed loyalty to the company,” Mason said. “I just began to see the importance of serving the geriatric population — being involved in it — and I’ve stayed in it.”
His past experience as a CNA is the base of everything about his nursing career. He flourished from his experience and furthered his skills as a licensed practical nurse.
Mason’s family is filled with CNAs, and Mason is the first one to become a nurse. His older brother inspired many of his family to explore health care. He was a nurse aide before he switched to pharmacy.
“And Iike even though I’m a manager now, I’ll help with anything on the floor,” he said. “I’ll sweep floors. Sometimes I’ll do a good percentage of the rounds with my aids.”
That’s his style of leadership. When he arrives at Grace, Mason makes sure his hall is stable with the staff going in the right direction. He’ll get some intitial treatments done.
“I get all the orders for the entire building. I’ll check over them for all four units and I’ll check over things from the previous day,” Mason said.
He goes to meetings with department heads to discuss patient care before heading back to his hall where he helps the CNAs in their daily rounds.
“I communicate with family members and do actual hands-on nursing, too,” he said.
Another thing on his mind is that his wife is expecting a baby boy in December. He’s often asked when the baby is due by the residents, many of whom he has taken care of for many years. His wife also worked at Grace as an admissions coordinator, so the residents know her, too. His wife works at Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City in her sixth month of pregnancy.
“Titus Martin Mason II is on his way,” Mason said. “That’s a big part of my life. I plan to really be there during the week for my son when he comes.”
Mason said he feels a lot of loyalty to Grace Living Center. He said he’s just a common kind of guy for everybody that comes and goes.
“I try to be personable with everyone. It makes my day flow easier,” Mason said. “I’m happier that way. I don’t want to have a brick wall between me and anyone.”
He will bond with people where ever he goes. The director of nurses was his charge nurse when he was a CNA and she became Mason’s mentor.
“She’s really who I model myself after in my nursing career,” he said. “I look up to her a lot.”
Working with Alzheimer’s patients is not always easy. But it helps to have someone like Mason lead the way. His communication approach is to meet each patient living with dementia where they are in their moment of life.
His activities director engages them in various activities, depending on their level of ability. Many of them participate in a daily exercise class. For some of them, this might not be possible, but they can color or go to concerts at the home.
“We have some people who were factory workers so they want to stay busy with their hands,” he said. “We just try to meet you where you’re at. Some people just want a snack and watch TV.”
Mason said Grace is where God wants him to be at this point of his life.
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“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s significant work,” he said. “On one level I’ve helped someone become physically more comfortable and meet their physical needs and emotional needs. I really have close attachments.”