Colleen’s Compassion

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Jeanette (left) is a resident of Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN. In the photo, she’s visiting with Colleen Marcus, recently named Garnette’s new executive director. Jeanette is 87 years old and the oldest of nine children. Her little sister Barb, aged 83, also lives at Garnette Gardens.

While Colleen is the new ED, she’s not new to Garnette, having served in various sales and marketing roles for the last six years. The fact that she already has a relationship with Jeanette and all the other residents is a big plus.

“The residents have the comfort level of knowing me,” says Colleen. “They don’t have a problem coming and talking to me, which is kind of nice.” Colleen promotes her open door, “That means for residents and families of residents to come and see me and my door is open for staff as well.”

Colleen remembers the story of a woman who moved to Garnette recently who has four sons, two of whom she already knew. That happens a lot in the small town of Redwood Falls, population 5,000. Colleen recalled that one of the sons she knew had a brother they thought might be skeptical about their mom moving into an assisted living community.

“They toured Garnette and he came along,” Colleen recalls. “By the end of the tour he was saying, ‘I think this is a good idea.’” After Colleen’s promotion was announced, she received a congratulatory call from that son, saying, “I gotta tell you they made a good decision because you sold me on moving mom in when I really came that day wondering if it was a good idea.”

Colleen figures that to build his confidence in Garnette, she needed to show the son that his mother would be treated with compassion when she moved in. “Compassion is a way of being empathetic with residents, understanding where they’re coming from,” she says, “and understanding that moving to Garnette is a good thing for his mom, because of the companionship that she’ll have. Some people are at the mercy of being stuck where they are with nobody to come and see them. Here, they can be out and about, make friends, find their joy and not be so lonely.”

Colleen emphasized that, with rare exceptions, residents could always access Garnette’s common areas, even during COVID. Most recently, the MN Department of Health has lifted all restrictions, allowing visitors to come and go and residents to leave the building when they wish, even in the rare times there’s a positive test for COVID in the building.

The Garnette Gardens community offers 61 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who value their independence but want options for personal care and the supportive services they need. We also offer 16 memory care suites. Nine care suites round out the options, offering a higher level of assisted living care and supervision.

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