by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Some of the most compassionate people in the world can be found working in nursing homes. At Fairmont Skilled Nursing and Therapy in Oklahoma City, the nursing staff contributes their skills to protect the most vulnerable of humanity, said Rachel Wainscott, RN, director of nursing. The facility is a nursing home with a skilled unit and a memory care unit.
The nurses and staff are hard workers who treat their coworkers and residents as an extension of their family. It’s more than a job. Wainscott said her staff has been diligent working overtime during the months of COVID-19. (story continues below)
“They all work more hours than they probably want to. But they do it because they love the residents,” she said while nearby a family outside social distancing from a loved one celebrating her birthday party with them through a protected plexiglass shield with an open top. They seemed to be enjoying the sunlight.
An elderly woman outside the booth placed her hand on the plexiglass to comfort her loved one as they touched opposite sides of the thin barrier. “We love you. See you later,” children and family members said when leaving.
It’s hard for the families because they can’t touch, Wainscott said.
“Sometimes it’s hard to hear in that booth, but we make with what we can you know, but at least they get to see their families,” Wainscott continued. “They really miss their families, and it’s been hard on the residents.”
Nurses have their individual ways to cope with the threat of coronavirus. The season has been exhausting, so some of them like Wainscott go workout during their leisure time.
“They’re coping well now. I think it’s getting better,” she said. “We had an outbreak in April of this year, so we kind of got it down early, hopefully. Now people are coping better, but at first it was hard. Everybody was overwhelmed. We had a lot of staff turnover because everybody was scared. When we got it in our facility, some quit, some came back when they realized, ‘Okay, we can do this.’”
Wainscott said her exercise time with lunch helps alleviate middle-day stressors. She will run or do whatever she needs to meet the challenges of the season.
Her career was motivated by her mother who was also nurse. Wainscott’s grandmother had a lot of health issues that she helped her mother with. Wainscott has often been told that she has a nurturing personality.
“I love people so much. My heart is meant to be around people and work with people,” she said.
Wainscott earned her degree as a registered nurse at Rose State College in Midwest City. She was a certified nurse aide before becoming a licensed practical nurse five years ago.
“I think everybody should get their CNA first. Start at the bottom,” she said. “I understand my CNAs better.”
She had worked in skilled therapy as an RN before coming to Fairmont Skilled Nursing and Therapy and loved her older residents. A couple of friends recommended Fairmont to her.
“It was a very good atmosphere whenever I got interviewed,” she said.
Wainscott said she hopes more staff comes to nursing homes and hospitals in 2021. That’s everybody’s wish. The vaccine will help, she added.
Nursing staffs in hospitals and nursing homes commonly have people working double shifts seven times a week this year, Wainscott said.
“I’ve been here almost 21 years and I love them. They’re just like a mother or brother for me. I have no one. I have no sister, so they’re all my family,” said Nina Perry, CNA.
Staff is hard to find right now — for everybody, Wainscott said.
Bonuses are offered to attract hard working staff members to the nursing profession. Fairmont ends up getting what it needs, but it’s not easy.
Wainscott remains grateful for the many good outcomes in patient care she has experienced in 2020. Life has one many battles over COVID.
“It’s always a celebration of course when people get over COVID right now. That’s always our biggest celebration,” she said. “Also, when we see our residents getting stronger — doing things independently — that’s always something we celebrate. When we see them walking, and a month before they were on hospice — we’ve had incident where somebody has come back from hospice when they were only supposed to live a week. And now he’s up walking and eating and doing everything he can. Those are little things that are definitely rewards for us.”