by James Coburn
Dennis Raines began his CNA work at Grace Living Center in October after being laid off work as a driller in the oil field for 12 years. He has no desire to return to the energy industry when it rebounds in Oklahoma. Now he enjoys working with his wife, Kelsey, an LPN at Grace.
“We love it. If it’s a holiday at least we still get to spend it together,” Dennis said.
Grace Living Center has offered them the flexibility they need as a growing family that includes an 11-month-old daughter, Kimber, and another baby to be named Wyatt and expected in May. They also have an 8-year-old son named Gunner. The couple hardly misses any time with each other.
“We both have full time positions so it’s excellent,” Dennis said.
He lost his job as a driller in January of 2015 before his daughter was born.
“It’s a funny story what got me in the medical field,” Dennis said. “She likes to watch Gray’s Anatomy. And we started watching it and the next thing you know she started suggesting I try to become a nurse. She talked me into trying to get into an LPN program and I actually got into it right out of the oil field.”
Kelsey studied to be a nurse at Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater and Dennis earned his CNA license after attending the Kiamichi Technology Center in Stillwater where he also attended LPN school.
Dennis had to delay his LPN training in order to move to Edmond where he said he found better opportunities.
“I love it and you couldn’t get me to go back to the oil field,” he said. “I love the interaction. I love working with people.”
He would show up at the oil field to work whether he was sick to his stomach or at his best. But not at Grace, he said. A sick staff member at Grace is told to rest at home, he said. Dennis said he’s not used to going home when he’s sick but appreciates the flexibility he has found.
“They work with appointments,” Kelsey said. “Just like tomorrow we have to be gone for appointments. We just let them know ahead of time and they work with our schedules. We don’t have any problems.”
He has a plan laid out to become an LPN and is sticking to it. Dennis said that Kelsey pushes him with encouragement like he has never been pushed before. He will earn his CMA license and in the spring, Dennis will apply for an LPN program.
“I fully intend on furthering myself here. There’s no reason to go anywhere else,” he said.
He describes himself as a talker, so it’s fun chatting with the residents, he said.
“People with backgrounds that go further than what most people realize,” he said. “I’ve met world renown people here. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at them, but world famous people with famous histories.”
One resident’s grandfather rode with Pancho Villa. Another man is know as a well known sculptor, he said.
Kelsey said it’s nice to have someone at home knowing what their spouse is going through at work.
“I love it,” Kelsey said of Grace. “There’s a great DON and ADON. It’s some of the best management I’ve ever worked for. There’s wonderful aides here. I have excellent support staff. I never have trouble finding help.”
Any questions she has can be answered immediately, Kelsey said. “I can get hold of my ADON night or day. It’s wonderful and I love it here.”
Kelsey does not remember a time when she did not have an interest in nursing. She lived nearby Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater for a while and decided to enroll. She has worked in long-term care nursing since graduating.
Dennis works on the rehabilitation hall. He said there’s better money to be made while working in the oil field, but working at Grace makes him feel worth more.
“I love seeing people get stronger. I love seeing them leave,” he said. “I love helping them get there. I love being the guy that they ask, ‘Hey, where’s Dennis at?’ That makes me feel better than I ever did working in an oil field.”
The couple loves to spend their leisure time together at parks with their kids.
“We take the kids out every chance we get,” Kelsey said.
Dennis and Kelsey met when he was still working in the oil field. He was drilling for oil outside of Guthrie behind a golf course. Kelsey was moving into some apartments nearby Grace Living Center Edmond.
“The first time we actually met I helped her move into her apartment,” Dennis said. “And it just kind of went from there. She decided to let me come back and I couldn’t stand being away from her.”