Gardant Management Solutions recognized the 2017 Shining Stars during the Administrator and Shining Star  Awards Luncheon that was held at the Kankakee Country Club last week.

These individuals put residents first and embrace our company values of love, compassion and dignity. Gardant Management Solutions shines brighter because of their commitment to ensuring the men and women who live at our communities are treated with the dignity they deserve.

Read the full nomination letters below for this year’s top three Shining Stars:

1st Place: Yvonne Peterson – Director of Marketing – Heritage Woods of Rockford
Yvonne Peterson, Heritage Woods of RockfordYvonne takes the values and mission of Gardant  beyond the brick and mortar of Heritage Woods of Rockford.  There are no limits or boundaries when it comes to her reaching out and enhancing the experience for one of our seniors.  Even if services are not needed from our supportive living community, Yvonne is quick to jump to her feet and fully embraces the opportunity to help someone.  Yvonne has touched countless lives, giving our residents and other seniors in the Rockford community dignity in their twilight years and their families’ peace of mind.

With her personal touch and impact on more than 600 seniors in Rockford, Yvonne was received several awards, including the Rockford Woman Manager of the Year Award presented by the Chamber of Commerce.  She has been recognized by State Rep. Steve Stadelman and Rep. Cheri Bustos for her creative initiatives in educating the public and local leaders about supportive living and preventative health.

If you were to ask Yvonne what she sees herself doing in five years, she’d say, “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”  She then says, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It is easy to see Yvonne truly loves what she does. Yvonne is devoted to Heritage Woods, but as you will see, her passion is far stretching throughout the Rockford area.  Nicknamed the committee queen, she is serving our outside community regularly.  Yvonne was the chair to Money Smart week; chair of the Alzheimer and Arthritis Walk; kick-off chair for Seniors Spring into Wellness Fair. For about 11 years, Yvonne has been instrumental as a Steering Committee for ADMIT, a group dedicated to serving seniors. Yvonne, consciously or not, is marketing for Heritage Woods of Rockford and the Illinois Supportive Living Program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every senior she is able to help, she captures as a win. Even though Yvonne participates in these committees voluntarily and her efforts have led to Heritage Woods of Rockford having a prestigious reputation, Yvonne will always credit the staff.  Housekeeping, dietary and nursing are the regular recipients of accolades due to positive community feedback.

Yvonne has furnished apartments for seniors who had no home before moving to our community. She has  made curtains and personally purchased items to make their new apartment feel like home.   She looks past the admission, wait list and commission and looks at the person, guiding them to dignified living and ensuring their needs, passions and desires are met.  With her investments into the families of our community, she is regularly called upon as an official senior case worker or social worker.  Yvonne, Director Marketing is a prime example of servant leader.  She promotes encouragement to young and old alike; she empowers the staff and pushes them to go further and be better, praising them along their journey.  Heritage Woods of Rockford as well as the many other communities Yvonne has worked with; are fortunate to have the influence of Yvonne as a team member.

Submitted by Administrator Jaclyn O’Keefe

2nd Place: Caitlyn Wise – Certified Nursing Assistant – Heritage Woods of Ottawa
Our nomination for “Shining Star” is a member of our nursing staff.  The nominee has worked in the nursing department since December 29, 2014. She is a certified nurse’s aide here at Heritage Woods of Ottawa.

She starts and ends her shift with a smile on her face that is so contagious you can never be unhappy or in a bad mood with her around.

She treats all of our residents as though they are members of her family. Whether they have been here for several years or a few days, they are all special to her.

It is such a huge change in a resident’s life when they make the move from their home to an assisted living community that it becomes overwhelming.

We do our very best to make sure that the transition is not so overwhelming, and our nominee goes above and beyond to make sure it is an easy and enjoyable transition.   The nominee is always a pleasure to be around.  She can find a bright side in every situation.  She knows how important it is to make sure things go smoothly behind the scenes.  No thanks or gratitude is needed for the nominee.  Knowing that she makes a difference in so many lives is thanks enough for her.

She not only participates in all of our events, but she enlists help from her fiancé, mother, father, sister, grandmother and grandfather! She has been our Easter Bunny,  patiently taking pictures with our residents and guests and Mrs. Claus assisting Santa with all of the children. She volunteers to chaperone at the Founders Day Picnic the city of Ottawa hosts, so our residents can enjoy a day out of our community. She dressed the part for our 50s-themed party in her poodle skirt with her finance as her date.  She makes and donates baskets to our silent auction and made wreaths for our wreath auction. She also hosts residents at our CNA bingo games and picks out special prizes just for them.

When the City of Ottawa was struck by a tornado, she was the first to call and see if our building needed assistance. One of our residents was telling me how she was at the local 4-H fair, and one of “my girls” and her boyfriend helped her make it up a hill at the fairgrounds; I knew immediately it was our Shining Star nominee. This aide volunteers to be a model at our Mother’s Day Fashion Show. She showcased her camouflage prom dress and enlisted her finance to usher models down the runway. Even on vacation, her thoughts were with all of our residents.  She brought back a seashell from Florida for each and every resident because she wanted all the residents to enjoy a part of her vacation. We still aren’t sure how she made it on the airplane with all of those seashells!

Heritage Woods of Ottawa is proud to have such a wonderful “Shining Star” on our staff, and as a friend. We take pride in nominating Caitlyn Wise as our Shining Star.

Submitted by Administrator Peggy Morgan

3rd Place: – Teresa Standly – Nurse – Prairie Living at Chautauqua
It is with great pride and pleasure that I nominate our staff nurse, Teresa Stanley, for the Shining Star Award.  One of the residents at Prairie Living was talking about her one day and said to me “to know her is to love her.”  I have heard that old saying many times throughout the years, but for the first time when I looked into the resident’s eyes, I knew what it really meant.  Teresa shows such kindness and compassion to our residents that they have come to feel she truly belongs to them.

Teresa spends her days at Prairie Living taking care of all the residents as if each one of them were someone very special in her life.  Teresa never refers to them as just “the residents.”  To her, they are each an individual with different wants and needs and she encompasses that in the care she provides.

One story particularly stands out in my mind when I think of Teresa. I would like to share that story with you, so that maybe you will better understand what it means when someone says, “to know her is to love her.”

We had a 94 year old Russian gentleman living at our community who had spent 2 ½ years as a prisoner in a Nazi war camp when he was a teenager.  He has shared many of his memories with us and has never treated anyone at the community with anything less than the utmost respect.  He routinely reminds us that America is a great place to live, and he is proud to call Prairie Living his home.  From the day he met Teresa, he called her Meeshka although he calls everyone else at the community by their given name.  He told me on many occasions that his Meeshka was his guardian angel, although Teresa never showed any favoritism toward him, just treated him with the compassion and respect she shows all the residents.

One morning while he was showering himself, he fell and sustained a laceration to his elbow.  He denied hitting his head, but agreed to go to the ER for the pain in his elbow.  Teresa was on duty and assessed him following the fall.  She noticed he was also having trouble focusing his left eye, although he still denied hitting his head.   When the EMTs arrived, they took him to the ambulance and began to reassess him.  One of the EMTs roughly grabbed his wrists, and the resident jerked back, as he did not understand what they were doing to him. Teresa was standing right by his side, ever our resident advocate, and told the EMT that he needed to explain what he was doing to our resident because of his history. At that point, the EMT refused to take him because he said he was being combative.  Teresa explained to him that he was not being combative; the resident didn’t know him  and didn’t understand why he was grabbing his wrists, which caused more pain to his injury.  The EMT still refused to take him and left the community.  Teresa knew something was terribly wrong, so she then went to the administrator who called the EMT’s supervisor. He offered to send another ambulance to the community, bUt Teresa thought sending another stranger might upset the resident more. She asked for permission to take him herself, in the community van, which she easily got.  She then explained to him what she was going to do, and he willingly went to the hospital with her where she spent the rest of the day, advocating for him. Although this resident retains his thick Russian accent, and is sometimes difficult for strangers to understand, she insisted they show him respect, talk directly to him and explain what they were doing.  The physician on duty examined him and was then going to send him back to Prairie Living with a dressing on his elbow, but Teresa firmly stood her ground and insisted  they do further testing. The doctor finally looked at her and said very sarcastically “Will it make you feel better if I order a CT Scan?”  Teresa very staunchly told him it would as she had noticed further loss of vision on the left side as the day progressed.  Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the resident was transferred to a St Louis hospital with a bleed to his brain.  I often have wondered what would have happened if Teresa had not been standing by his side advocating for him that day.  Can we all look in the mirror and know that we would have done the same thing?  Thankfully, I can tell you that the resident is now recovering, but the end result could have been so different without his ‘guardian angel’ by his side.

I could tell you many other stories of her loyalty to our residents, but I think that one says it all.  How many people would spend the day repeatedly standing up to other healthcare workers to see that one of our residents gets the care they so justly deserve.  She didn’t worry about her other work getting behind while she was at the hospital, or making the EMT or hospitalist mad. She was solely focused on this resident getting the care he needed.  Can we all look in the mirror and say without a doubt that we would have done the same?

Teresa advocates for all her residents whenever the need arises.  She talks to them and really listens to what they have to say before determining their plan of care.  She never bases her actions purely on clinical knowledge, or general protocol, it’s all about the individual resident.

In addition, Teresa is one of our staunchest advocates for Prairie Living and takes every opportunity to tell anyone in the community of the great services we provide.  She truly believes in our mission and not only talks it but lives it every day.

Teresa Stanley is truly a shining star at our community.

Submitted by Administrator Terri Pasquino

The 2017 Shining Stars are shown here after the awards luncheon with Gardant’s Chief Executive Officer Rod Burkett and President and Chief Operating Officer Jo Ellen Bleavins.

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