CAREERS IN NURSING
SENIORS ARE CENTER OF PROFESSIONAL LIFE: VILLAGE ON THE PARK
by Traci Chapman – staff writer/photographer
Tammie Bohanan’s entire nursing career has been dedicated to seniors and their families, and she’d have it no other way.
“It means so much to be able to be there for our residents, to provide support to their family, even at the end, even when the prognosis isn’t good,” Bohanan said. “Holding their hand, praying with the family, letting them know we’re there for all of them – it’s just everything I always wanted to do.”
That’s what led her to her job as Village on the Park’s director of resident care, Bohanan said. It’s a job she’s had since 2014 and one she said is everything she ever wanted – not just because she is able to care for the seniors she loves, but also because her coworkers quickly became a family.
“It starts from the top, with the executive director in our community who has been here for 11 years – that’s very unheard of in assisted living,” Bohanan said. “He works so hard, is so committed and is understanding, allowing us a break when we need it.”
Those breaks can be very important for a nurse who is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a woman who uses both her nursing and management skills, as she helps guide residents through what is for most their final journey.
“Many of our residents come in early in the process – either in independent living, through assisted living and then some to memory care, or straight to assisted living,” Bohanan said. “We have Age in Place, so for the most part we try to keep them here.”
That means as patients near the end, outside hospice and home health, both also overseen by Bohanan, help supplement care provided by the Village staff.
“We always just want to make sure the resident’s needs are being met,” she said. “All of us – directors and staff – care for our residents as if they were our own family.”
Village on the Park is part of Retirement Center Management, a Houston, Texas-based company founded in 1996. The privately held company has several properties in Texas; the Village is its sole Oklahoma facility, Bohanan said.
“That’s one of the great things about the company – we are part of something larger, a corporate entity that provides us a lot of benefits, but being here on our own also gives us a level of autonomy that I think is beneficial to our residents,” she said.
Bohanan came to nursing in her mid-20s, she said. Although she knew since high school she wanted to get into the medical field, the future LPN first got married and had children. Her husband was in the military and stationed in Germany, his family moving there with him.
After a divorce, Bohanan returned home. Working as a certified nursing assistant before her 2001 Platt College graduation, she said that’s when she knew she had resumed the path she was meant to follow.
“I love people, I love helping people and want to take care of them, and it’s always been that way,” she said.
Over the years, Bohanan has had several kinds of positions, each relating to geriatric care. She worked as a long-term care nurse for more than 10 years at Grace Living in Bethany. Shortly after reaching that decade mark, Bohanan said she wanted to do something different, leading her to working for three years as a Good Shepherd hospice nurse.
“I loved that, except the travel,” she said. “It was so fulfilling, but it’s difficult to be on the road like that when you have a family.”
The end of that road branched off to work in assisted living care in 2012 and Bohanan’s position at Village on the Park, where she oversees the facility’s assisted living and memory care units, both opened in 2014.
“I feel like I’ve really found my calling in assisted living,” she said.
The Village’s assisted living/memory care units together house about 40 people, and Bohanan supervises about 30 ACMAs, CMAs and CNAs, she said. While geriatric care can be difficult for some people, many of her staff – and other employees – share her commitment to the Village, she said.
“Memory care, in particular, can be very demanding, it’s different every day because of the disease process – it can be good one day and chaos the next,” she said. “I have some staff who have been here since February 2014, when the units opened – we’re a family, a close family, and that’s so important to me.”
In fact, Bohanan’s work and personal lives have intermingled, providing benefits to both, she said. Her children grew up seeing her commitment to her profession, something the LPN said benefited them, as well.
“I’ve been doing this most of their lives – they’re very understanding of my job, they come in and they’re not afraid of the disease process,” she said. “That means so much to me, that they get it and they share that compassion and understanding.”