CAREERS IN NURSING
A FRIENDLY VOICE – KINDNESS ESSENTIAL FOR NURSES IN LONG-TERM CARE
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Kathy Wray, RN, HCR ManorCare Midwest City decided when she was a CNA that she loved geriatrics and would pursue a career in nursing.
“I was going to be a champion for the elderly,” she said.
With 15 years of experience, Wray has dedicated her career to taking care of the elderly. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the OU Health Sciences Center in 2003. She has been with HCR ManorCare in Midwest City for nearly a year.
She has leaned toward being a caregiver ever since childhood.
“I’ve always leaned toward being a caregiver,” Wray said. “And I’ve always loved the elderly. Even as I was growing up I helped the widows in the neighborhood.”
Her experience includes being a psychiatric tech, which is a CNA, she said. She said that she learned people have a lot of problems and they need compassion in their lives. Her experience has helped her today as a nurse.
“We’re dealing with their lives. We are in their world so we need to help them,” she said of long-term care.
She earned her CNA training in 1995 and began her work in Oklahoma City nursing homes. She knows of the hard work that CNAs provide in hands-on care. They do personal work, she said, in the patients’ activities of daily living.
“I just established a reason to help the geriatric society and being a CNA really did give me a purpose in life to where I realized how hard it was for them, and how the elderly need an extra measure of compassion,” Wray said.
CNAs are unsung heroes, she said, who help to prevent further health care complications in patients’ lives. Her reward today as a nurse is simple. It’s the relationships that she has developed with her patients.
“They bless me as much as I bless them — probably more so,” she said.
Patients need a nurse who is consistent, someone who cares about what they eat and how they feel, she said. Nutrition is important because their disease process makes their wound’s worse, said Wray, who is currently serving as a wound nurse at HCR ManorCare. Patients need a nurse who cares about the condition of their skin, she continued.
She will make sure that residents are turned and their briefs are changed.
“It’s about keeping them clean, dry and intact. It’s about keeping them where they’re not wearing a wet diaper or their skin is not breaking down,” Wray said.
Laboratory blood analysis can determine a disease process that makes a resident’s wounds worse. She said it is a full-time process keeping patients safe all hours of the day and night. Patient care at HCR ManorCare does not take a rest.
“We have some patients that are so loving to other residents,” she said. “The residents care about us and the residents worry about us. We have several little ladies that want to pray with me. They want to help me, want to hug me. And that’s how they bless me.”
“They are as compassionate about us as we are about them.”
She shares many of the interests that the ladies have. Wray likes the art of crafting. Some of the women spend their time knitting or doing embroidery. Some of them read as Wray does.
“The craft side has two avenues. It helps you feel good about yourself and it helps you to relax. You’re working with your hands and it’s letting you unwind.”
Wray said what she admires about the nursing staff at HCR ManorCare in Midwest City is that they advocate and do their best for each resident who makes the center their home. Communicating with residents is very important and the nurses are polite by answering their questions in the right manner, Wray explained.
“They are very attentive to their needs,” she said. “If somebody comes up here and they’re wandering and they don’t know where to go, my staff always takes the time to reach out to help them.”
The residents are not bothersome to Wray because with them is where she wants to be.
“The staff here takes the time and takes the extra initiative to help each one with their little problems,” Wray mentioned.
She would encourage anyone graduating from nursing school to consider a career in long-term care. She would advise them to be kind.
“There are so many areas that you can go to, but this long-term care geriatric population needs so many people who are willing to go the extra mile for them,” Wray said. “It is very rewarding and there is a big need.”