Seasoned nurse shares best practices
by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Dawn Watson loves her work as an RN consultant overseeing six long-term care facilities and two living centers. They are located the metro under the Southwest Health Care Management group.
“We’re actually transitioning to StoneGate Senior Living soon. They will be our new owners and we’re excited about that,” Watson said on a day spent at Meadow Lake Estates in Oklahoma City.
StoneGate Senior Living currently has two facilities in Tulsa, one in Lawton, Norman, and a new one under construction in Oklahoma City.
“That will be five more facilities that Tamera Meadows and I will be overseeing as RN consultants,” Watson said.
Watson began working for Southwest Health Care Management Group in 2002 and travels to all of the facilities.
“I like to teach. I like to make sure that all of our staff is educated. I help them with problems, making sure they are providing the best possible to our residents so they are happy and healthy,” Watson said.
A nursing school graduate of Oklahoma City Community College, Watson supported herself during school as a nurse extern at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center until her graduation. She worked there in the arenas of intermediate care and pediatrics.
Later she was hired as Nursing Director at Ranchwood Nursing Center in Yukon and has been with the management company ever since.
“I’m in each home depending on what’s going on,” she said.
Watson will fill in when a Director of Nursing is absent. She also trains new DONs for management positions. She tries to make sure that she visits each home a minimum of once a week while sharing duties Watson said.
“When you have staff that cares and you can see that they care about the residents and want to make sure that they are happy is what I admire,” Watson said. “They see that they are healthy and taken care of. They go above and beyond to try to make sure those things happen.”
“That’s the most important thing. There’s a lot of staff here at Meadow Lake Estates and all of our buildings are very caring.”
She attributes success of nursing to teamwork of the people she works with and works for daily.
“They care about you and they let you know that,” Watson said.
Longevity abounds among the nursing staffs of the homes she visits. Many of the nurses began their careers as certified nurse aides. As a nurse Watson worked with them 20 years ago. One of them, Leslie Wafer, is the Director of Nurses at Ranchwood Nursing Center.
“It’s neat for me to see these people get to grow and develop their careers,” Watson said. “I’ve watched that over the years and it’s been great.”
Ranchwood has been a 5 Star Nursing facility for quite a while, Watson continued. Meadow Lake Estates also had a federal survey last year with zero deficiencies.
“That’s almost unheard of,” said Watson, who became a nurse simply because she cares about people. She always knew she would have a career allowing her to help humanity.
“I always go back to quality of life,” she said of the primary needs of residents. “We are like their extended family. This is their home and we are here to take care of them and make sure they are happy, that all their needs are being met.”
Overwhelmingly the residents have so much knowledge gained in life. They are a reflection of history, Watson said.
“They love the staff that takes care of them and they are so thankful. I love hearing their stories,” she added. “They always let me know how thankful they are. It makes me feel good and it makes me feel I am contributing.”
Watson gives credit for the residents’ positive feedback to the DON and staff.
Most of her leisure time is spent with her husband Gary. The couple just celebrated 31 years of marriage. She has a daughter and son, both adults. Watson also likes spending time with her granddaughters, ages 4 and 2.
“My 2-year-old was born with multiple heart defects,” Watson said. “She’s been through a lot and will be having another major surgery this year (at Children’s Hospital).”
There are all kinds of nurses and the care her granddaughter receives at Children’s Hospital is excellent , she said. All nurses are specialized and fill a need in the industry.
“There is no job that is more prestigious than another one,” she said. “It’s just all about being in the nursing industry and helping people.”