CAREERS IN NURSING
A PLACE TO CALL HOME: HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
The residents living at Golden Age Nursing Center in Guthrie know they have a friend in Danielle Wolfington, RN, MDS coordinator. She also works on staffing there.
She earned her nursing degree at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa has been a nurse since mid-2015.
Wolfington began her career working in surgical nursing at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City. She said her experience there was challenging and rewarding but she wanted to return to geriatric nursing because she had at one time served as a CNA for 10 years in a nursing home. She chose to work at Golden Age.
“I had worked for their company in Perry. That’s where I was for 10 years. And so when I got out of nursing school I didn’t really plan on going to a nursing home, but I feel like home when I am here. That’s kind of why I took this job.”
Because she had worked as a CNA for so long, it took some time getting used to that being an RN is a supervisory role among the nursing aides. So at first, she hesitated in asking the CNAs to perform a duty. She would do it herself, Wolfington said. Then she realized it is alright to help a CNA but let them do their job. That is how Wolfington learned by experience. And her experience as a CNA has helped her to be a better nurse today, she said. Being a CNA is a hard job, she said.
“I don’t feel like they get as much respect,” she said. “So I think me having been a CNA before has helped a lot.”
She said it tripled her pay to graduate from nursing school. But nursing is a calling, she said. And no nurse should ever feel they are above getting a patient a drink or helping them to the restroom as a CNA does. Both her mother and sister work as a CNA.
All of the nursing staff has different traits that brings them together as a team with intelligence, experience and a caring spirit, she said.
“It’s just little things with all of them,” she said.
Wolfington became a CNA when she was 16. She had always looked up to the nurses she worked with in Perry. Her charge nurses had always encouraged her to attend nursing school. They believed in her drive, her will and compassion. They told her a nursing career would fulfill her life with happiness by rising to her full potential of learning. And Wolfington was ready to make a new contribution to life.
Being a nurse placed her in a career that would enable her to care for her family.
“I think it is just in me to take care of people,” Wolfington explained. “It’s really sad but I only feel good about myself if I’m taking care of other people.”
As a nurse Wolfington helps others, but she also helps herself. She thinks about the times her residents had been crying and later told her that she made them feel so much better that day.
“It’s pretty amazing. That even happened at OU. We had people that had been in prison and stuff and you’ve got to set that aside and take care of them. They were going back to prison, and they were like, ‘You’re the first person in a long time that’s made me feel better about myself.”
“It just makes you feel good. It really does.”
As an MDS coordinator she is responsible for all of the Medicare and Medicaid assessments required by law. This monitoring approach lends itself to Golden Age by establishing care areas to develop, Wolfington said. She develops patients’ care plans and updates them as needed.
“I do care plan meetings with the families every three months, which I do every week,” she said. “It is a lot of work. I’ll monitor their weights to see if they’re losing weight. And then I’ll contact the doctor to see if we need to get them some kind of supplements.”
Her compassionate approach to nursing has spread to her children, she said. They think the elders are adorable when seeing them.
“I’m just that way, too. I think they’re all just sweet as can be.”
A nursing home may not be where a resident wants to live. So Wolfington believes that all nurses in a long-term setting should leave if they do not want to be there.
“Make it somewhere the residents want to be,” she said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for the elderly because they have lived a hard life and nobody knows what they have endured.”
They have worked 50 or 60 years, been in the military or may have been driving a car a week before they entered a nursing home.
“People think the nursing home is somewhere you come to die and I don’t think it should be that way. I think it is where you should come to live.”
Wolfington wants to enjoy life to its fullest. At home she cares for her four children, attends PTO meetings and supports her boys in football.