CAREERS IN NURSING
KIND HEART: LPN RETURNS TO NURSING AFTER RETIREMENT
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Judy Rush says she has been blessed to work as a nurse with long-term care residents. She has a myriad of services under her belt at Golden Age Nursing Center in Guthrie.
“It’s my whole life, just about,” she said.
The former administrator there came out of retirement to return to the nursing profession she values highly. A licensed practical nurse, Rush works part time as a staff nurse.
“My mother has been here for six years,” Rush said. “And they take really good care of her. I wouldn’t have her any place else.”
Golden Age is family. Rush first came to Golden Age in 2000. She already had an administrator’s license when she was hired as an MDS coordinator. Golden Age Director of Nursing Phyllis Bagwell was hired that same year as a staff nurse.
“When I became administrator a little after that, she became DON. So she and I have worked as administrator and DON together,” Rush said.
Rush served three years as the administrator before the parent company Companion Health Services asked her to be an administrator at another facility.
Rush retired from family owned Companion Health Services in 2014, but couldn’t resist the offer to come back.
“Golden Age is my favorite,” she said. “I had to come back because I got bored at home after I retired as an administrator and I quit. I was in Perry at that time.”
She called administrator Linda Smith and asked, “Can I come feed people?” And Smith replied, “No. I have a perfect job for you.”
Her face lights up when talking about the nursing staff there.
“We have younger girls and we have middle-age girls,” Rush said. “Right now the team that we have — we work as a team. I mean I could not do it without them.”
She appreciates the communication among the staff from the laundry staff, nurse aides, dietary personnel and nurses for noticing the subtlest changes in the health of a resident. Nurses are informed right away.
“They go around hugging the residents. They say, ‘I love you.’ And the residents tell them back,” Rush said.
Nursing has enriched her life since graduating from nursing school in 1976 in New Mexico. She worked in a hospital in a rural area near Santa Fe doing medical surgical nursing for six years. She also worked in a drug abuse treatment program at the University of New Mexico. Her first venture in long-term care came next, still in Santa Fe.
“We think we know nursing so well, but do you know how much we learn from the elderly when we take care of them?” Rush continued. “A whole lot. They’re amazing. They have stories you wouldn’t believe.”
She’s cared for artists, doctors and all types of beautiful people, she said. One guy was a pilot is WWII.
“They’re awesome. Their lives are amazing,” she said.
It is a blessing for Rush that she has had opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. The pleasure of taking care of them and knowing them has flowed like chapters in a book.
“We have really nice families, too,” she said.
Moments of being a nurse have touched her life, flowing like chapters in a book.
She recalls one lady at Golden Age living with a terminal case of breast cancer. She was in a lot of pain.
They got to talking and learned they had a common friend who owned a store in Stillwater. Rush and the lady began talking about homeopathic medicine.
“She was the sweetest lady. And she would always smile when I walked into her room. She just made you smile although she was very ill,” Rush said.
She had a lot to give. And many of the residents at Golden Age continue to shine, regardless of facing moments of uncertainty.
“I think of people even when I worked in med/surg back in the 1970s that were real special,” Rush said. “I had one lady who was very ill. And she said. “You need to have a baby so I can take care of it for you. That’s how special people are. They really appreciate your kindness and the love that you give them.”
Rush knows as a nurse to also be kind to herself. She remains engaged in life with days spent at botanical gardens in Oklahoma City or going to the zoo, especially on Wednesdays, when the zoo offers a discount for seniors 65 and older, she said.
She also likes to explore Oklahoma with her niece. Life has been good.