Older and younger residents fill the halls at Wildewood Skilled Services and Rehab in Oklahoma City. This is part of the change that Assistant Director of Nurses, Tracie Parks, experiences since she was hired at Wildewood nearly seven years ago. Some of the residents are in their 50s and some have been in their 20s.
“It’s a variation of residents,” said Parks, who focuses on wound care.
She is a leader among the nursing staff after earning her LPN license at Platt College in Moore 11 years ago. Nurses learn basic best practices in nursing school. Hands-on care brings leads to a wealth of knowledge.
“It’s a lot to learn when it’s hands-on, instead of what’s in a book,” Parks explained. “That’s where someone who has been a nurse for a while can educate that nurse and let them know there is more to it than what lab work is. You have to look at that resident as an individual and see how to help.”
Parks lets new nurses know that she is there for them if they need anything. She makes herself available while noticing their skills level.
“You don’t just throw things at them and expect them to do it. Get out there and see what they do need help with,” she said. “Be there for them.”
Parks was a CNA for 20 years in oncology, therapeutic rehabilitation and telemetry before becoming a nurse. She worked on a psychiatric nursing ward at St. Anthony Hospital. Her observation skills combine to make for a better nurse. Empathy is one of her main ingredients.
Hearing how thankful the residents are, motivates her with inspiration.
“They appreciate you service and what you do for them,” Parks said. “How they tell you is a really good benefit when waking up every morning and going to work — knowing you’re benefitting and getting your blessings knowing you’re appreciated.”
Dietary, housekeeping, nursing, and administration join together as a team to make a healthy home for the residents.
“We’re pretty much family here. We see each other as family,” Parks said. “We are very dedicated to our residents, and we are loyal to our residents. We try to do the best we can for them, and they know that. I think we all just come together to take care of them.”
Parks appreciates that there is not a lot of turnover at the health care center.
“We have all been here for so long that we all know our residents,” she said.
It can be stressful when a family member leaves their home to move into a strange place. But the Wildewood staff, family members, and other residents offer a friendly voice of encouragement to make life comfortable and inviting as new residents settle into their new homes.
The nursing staff is sensitive to the bonds built between residents. They know not to change the settings when residents want to share a room together.
“We all come together and figure out something. It’s not one person that decides stuff,” she said.
Communication is key between social workers, nursing and the dietary staff so that all facets of the home benefit the residents’ needs through shared governance. Residents have a voice in their care plan as nurses listen to their needs.
“I can only speak for me but being in wound care you see them individually. You don’t see them as a number. You see them as a resident and someone that depends on you. And once you hit that threshold of when they come in with a big sore that’s healed, and you see tears in their eyes, you know that you had something to do with that.”
She developed her wound care skills by learning something new every day. It takes a team to do wound care. And it’s more than applying a patch to a wound, she said. A nurse needs to know why they place a patch to determine what caused the wound.
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