by James Coburn – staff writer
Tabitha Campbell, LPN, tells how she loves the staff at Fairmont Skilled Nursing & Rehab in Oklahoma City because of their compassion for caring for people.
She has always been inspired by caretakers. She grew up being around family who took care of people. And they did it without a wrinkle in their face. They never raised their brow and never raised their voice when someone needed them.
“I love people and become very attached quickly, so I always beg to keep some of my long-term people over here on my hall,” she said. “They have an ability to always go above and beyond for patients.”
Currently, Campbell serves as a charge nurse. Her duties include hospice and anything involving long-term patients. (STORY CONTINUES BELOW)
Her grandmother and mother were all caretakers, and her mother remains one. Campbell recalled going to her great “granny’s” home to find somebody had dropped their grandmother off to be cared for.
“My grandmother was the same way. She would take me in and out of homes with her,” Campbell said. “My mom was also the same way. She worked in a nursing home, so I was always around elderly people. That’s all I knew — people looking after people. I think that’s where my true passion came from.”
Three generations of caretakers in her family motivated her to instill the fourth generation.
Campbell is a 2014 graduate of the Southwest Technology Center, located in Altus. She has always done long-term skilled nursing and came to Fairmont Skilled Nursing & Rehab in 2018. She started there as an assistant director of nursing covering the men’s hall.
“That was my first time of being an actual ADON, I had always done desk nursing but not ADON responsibilities,” Campbell continued.
She said sometimes nurses don’t realize how good a nurse they are until someone compliments them for being one.
“All nurses are great. Hospital nurses are great. Long-term care and skilled nursing are just a little bit different. You really get to know people. They’re not in and out. Sometimes they’re on my floor for 90 days,” Campbell said. “So, you really develop relationships with them. You become attached to them. You hate to see them leave but you’re glad to see them leave. All of your hard work and dedication to them has gotten them able to go home.”
Her experiences as an ADON and her current role as a charge nurse has touched her heart. She recalled one man whom she nicknamed PECO Train. They instantly developed a close-knit friendship that proved to help her in life. Her son had graduated from high school and joined the United States Navy and she had sent her two daughters home to live with her mother. Campbell felt she was without a reason to smile.
“So, when I got here, PECO train was very caring. And every time he saw me, he said, ‘What’s up kiddo?’ And I’d say, ‘Ah nothing.’ And he’d say, ‘You need a smile. You need to laugh.’ And of course, I was laughing at what he was saying,” Campbell said. “I would smile at him, and with what I was going through in my life at the time, I needed a patient like him.”
Every day began to give Campbell a reason to smile during the lowest point she had felt in her life. She needed PECO Train and she knew he needed her to help care for him.
Campbell said nurses are not supposed to have favorite patients and she loves them all the same. But he helped restore the twinkle in her eye and meant something special to her.
His death was hard for Campbell, but she knew that a lifetime is limited before going to a forever home in heaven, she said.
Campbell tells nursing students that compassion is something you cannot be taught in school.
“You have to love what you do but first of all you have to have love for human beings,” she said.
People are not the same color, size or shape, she said.
“Have the love for people and all humanity and you’ll be fine in nursing,” she said. “That’s what it takes because the dollar amount doesn’t amount to the love you give.”
Her coworkers sense when somebody feels down and out of sorts. They understand the challenges nurses face every day.
Doors are always open for nursing staff members to release tears when a resident passes away, Campbell said.
“All buildings don’t have that but this one does,” she said.