Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Hail to Our Nurses

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GG nurses - Marlys Skoblik, RN, Amber Demuth, LPN, Sandy Lund, LPN Bottom left to right Courtney Rohlik, RN, Lynn Buckley, LPN, and Jenn Panitzke, RN

We recently celebrated Nurses Week for 2019. Marlys Skoblik (upper left corner) is an example of the longevity and dedication of the 25 nurses employed at all Vista Prairie Communities. Marlys has been a nurse for more than 40 years. In the photo, she’s pictured with her nurse colleagues at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, where she has served since 2012.  Together, these six nurses have 146 years of experience in caring for patients in a variety of settings.

Next to Marlys is Licensed Practical Nurse Amber Demuth and LPN Sandy Lund; (bottom left to right) Registered Nurse Courtney Rohlik, LPN Lynn Buckley, who manages Garnette Gardens Memory Care, and Registered Nurse Jenn Panitzke, who is Garnette’s Director of Health Services.

Marlys serves primarily in the 15-unit Memory Care area, where the community’s highest level of care takes place, and in the Care Suites. She describes how they ask the families of Memory Care residents to complete questionnaires to help learn what has been important in their loved ones’ lives. In the nine Care Suites residents can generally converse about their histories, but each has unique physical challenges.

“We assess everybody very individually with the ultimate goal of making sure that we can meet their needs,” Marlys added. “They have lived a long time and during all those years, they had experiences and they had relationships and they had everything that makes a life.  Just holding a hand, being with somebody, shows them they have value.”

She also emphasized the importance of getting to know residents’ families and how grateful they are for the compassionate care provided for their loved ones.

Our Organizational Director of Health Care, Melissa Plachecki, a 25-year nurse herself, summed up the profession well, “To answer the call of nursing is a true vocation. Few careers offer the holistic opportunities that nursing provides. To be a nurse is an honor and a privilege.”

Safe Care For Seniors

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BOD taking the Safe Care for Seniors Pledge

We have joined with LeadingAge Minnesota and other senior care organizations to implement a new initiative called Safe Care for Seniors. It’s our way of reinforcing how we safely serve in the course of caregiving, and it starts with this pledge, which the Vista Prairie Communities Board of Directors took at its most recent meeting. I pledge to do my best every day to increase the safety of the people I serve, and my fellow team members, by:

  1. always treating the people in my care with respect and dignity and  taking steps to get to know  them as a person
  2. speaking up if I see something that may be unsafe or makes me feel uncomfortable.

While the initiative started in Minnesota, the spirit will permeate throughout all eight of our communities, including those located in Iowa and Ohio. A specific action plan accompanies the pledge at every level of our organization, starting with our board. It includes leadership training; the designation of champions at each community; participation by our entire staff in learning and improvement opportunities; partnering in new ways to improve communication, safety and quality; and generally strengthening our safety culture.

When you see a member of our staff wearing a “Safe Care for Seniors” lapel pin, you know they have made a public commitment to do all that we can, however they serve in our organization, to address the priority for safety in our settings.

Want to join us? You will have opportunities to Make the Pledge at a Safe Care for Seniors event in one of our communities. These events will celebrate all we do today and renew our commitment to treating people with respect and dignity, always. They will highlight doing all we can to ensure safe and joy-filled environments.

Purpose Does Not Equal Perfection

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Connie Platz

Connie’s life purpose is to help people, even though she’s not living out that purpose as a nurse, like she planned. In the early ‘80s when she and her twin sister were in nursing school in St. Cloud, there was scant information about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition they were later diagnosed to have.

“When we read about it in our abnormal psychology nursing books, there wasn’t much written about OCD,” Connie recalls. “In school we were told that OCD was caused by ‘an overanxious family environment.’ We’ve come full circle, because OCD is now understood as a biological chemical imbalance in the brain.”

At the relatively young age of 55, after losing her marriage, leaving the nursing profession and the frustrations of cycling through job after job, Connie’s mother suggested moving into an assisted living community. Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows in North Mankato has become a significant part of her OCD therapy, funded through government disability payments.  She had tried almost all the different medications for OCD. She did months of in-patient behavior therapy and underwent deep brain stimulation surgery, which uses a brain implant. Nothing worked long-term.

Since her move in March, Connie has high hopes that Monarch Meadows is the answer she has sought for more than 30 years. She describes the resident assistants as her “coaches and cheerleaders,” all at the same time, “Since I moved here, there’s quite a difference. When my mother asks how I’m doing, I say ‘I’m doing good mom!’”

Connie’s OCD will never go away, but she can cope much better now, with the friendships she has and 24-hour support. “I still worry about making mistakes,” she says. “It’s like having a battle in your brain all of the time.”

Connie stays in close contact with her sister, who lives in New Ulm. The two turned their disability into service, offering workshops for health care professionals titled, “Double the Trouble, the Troubling Effects of OCD.”

“We wanted to speak at schools but at the time the schools were saying, ‘how can you talk about a mental illness when you’re mentally ill yourself.’ The reason we wanted to approach schools is because OCD can hit at a young age. If you can catch it early, while their brains are still developing, they can get help quicker,” Connie explains.

Connie’s most recent workshop about the complexities of OCD was for the Monarch Meadows staff.  “We like to get the word out and educate people about OCD, so that there isn’t so much stigma.”

March is National Nutrition Month

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Did you know? March is National Nutrition Month.

With Spring’s arrival we’re all looking forward to green sprouts on the horizon. In fact, Spring may have inspired The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to initiate “National Nutrition Month” in March – a time to anticipate new growth and new thoughts about what we eat. Continue reading “March is National Nutrition Month” »

American Heart Month

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Did you know? February is American Heart Month.

This year, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched #OurHearts, a national campaign to encourage and motivate everyone to adopt heart healthy behaviors. It’s promoted as a team effort because when people work together it’s easier to be successful.

Continue reading “American Heart Month” »