written by Dana Herron
CaraVita Home Care’s nursing staff rocks! We love their commitment to excellence in patient care and their passion for working with our clients. National Nurses Week (May 6th through 12th) gives us the perfect opportunity to brag on them and let you get to know more about them.
CaraVita’s team of caregivers and professional staff includes five nurses. Despite different backgrounds and motivations for entering the field of nursing, the common thread that binds them is their dedication to making a positive difference for the patients and families in their care.
Lori Koyuncu, RN, is CaraVita’s Vice President of Clinical Operations. While Lori describes herself as a “jack of all trades,” her vast experience and knowledge of caregiving, managing assisted living communities, and overseeing compliance with state regulations and guidelines make her the perfect person to direct our clinical operations. After completing her undergraduate degree in psychology, Lori found herself working as a certified nursing assistant at a personal care home. She fell in love with her role as a caregiver and knew immediately that she wanted to pursue a nursing career. Lori enjoys working with CaraVita Home Care because it truly is a family rather than a corporate environment. She also enjoys the versatility her role provides. According to Lori, a good nurse must have “common sense, compassion, the ability to problem solve, and good customer service skills.” Lori exhibits all those qualities and so much more as she is a strong team leader for CaraVita.
CaraVita’s nurse in charge of supervisory visits, Connie Gerlach, RN, was drawn to a career in nursing after her personal experience with her father. When Connie was a freshman in high school, her father died of a brain tumor at age 48. Connie saw firsthand the impact a nurse could make; a neighbor who headed up the local hospital’s ICU would come each evening to check on Connie’s dad. Connie says, “Most people have a calling or a reason that they veer in a certain direction, and that was mine. I thought I want to help someone like she’s helping us.” Connie also has personal experience caring for her grandmother who had dementia and says, “I’ve always had a passion for older people because they’re fascinating, and I think our culture needs to respect that population. I think we sometimes overlook the elderly, and it’s so gratifying to see people age in place at home with the help of our caregivers.” Through her work with CaraVita, Connie gets to help make aging in place at home a reality for many of our clients. It’s no surprise that working with our clients is Connie’s favorite part of her job, and she wants to ensure that they have a great experience. Connie’s commitment to excellence goes hand-in-hand with her feeling that compassion is at the heart of being a great nurse.
Chatity Mallard, RN, also believes in a caring heart and respect for the patient as defining characteristics of a great nurse. And Chatity also came to the field of nursing through a personal experience. When she was only 16 years old, a family friend suffered severe burns after pouring gasoline into a carburetor, and Chatity became one of his caregivers. When others were squeamish about helping, she thought to herself, “I can do this.” Chatity works with CaraVita Home Care in assisted living communities and also assists with managing medications programs and with care management; she also does some networking and community outreach. Chatity enjoys the variety her job provides and especially loves geriatric care. She says of working with older people, “You learn so much from them. I like listening to their life stories and getting to know them.” Chatity says, “I just love nursing,” and she demonstrates that passion for her job every day through the care she provides.
CaraVita Home Care has shared services programs with several independent living communities, and our nurses who work directly with those programs are Rebecca Wescott, LPN, and Sally Grantham, LPN.
Rebecca says the best part of her job is working with clients, especially with geriatric clients. She works with CaraVita’s Shared Services program at Arbor Terrace in Peachtree City. CaraVita Home Care’s philosophy of caring for our clients as we would care for a best friend is a philosophy that Rebecca lives daily. She says that, although some of the residents may be old enough to be her grandparents, she enjoys working with them and getting to know them as friends. In fact, Rebecca’s interaction with people is the foundation for her work as a nurse. She believes that a love of people and mutual respect, especially respect for elders in geriatric care, are the cornerstones of a great nurse.
Sally works with CaraVita Home Care’s Shared Services program at Atria North Point and St. George Village. At first, Sally thought she wanted to work with infants as a nurse, but she quickly discovered that she enjoyed working with geriatric patients instead. Her favorite part of her job with CaraVita is also getting to know the clients and learning about their lives. Sally’s been a nurse for over 26 years. She says, “It gets in your blood,” and is rewarding because she is able to give back to others every day. If there’s a key to being a great nurse, Sally believes it’s patience in understanding and helping families as well as clients.
We are so proud to have these nurses on our team, and we appreciate the impact they make on our clients’ lives every day. During National Nurses Week, we hope you’ll take time to thank a nurse who’s made a difference in your life!