Tag Archives: Garnette Gardens

On the air

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Julie Wohlman, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN, will celebrate her 60th birthday in style this month. She’s on the air, talking about how much she loves her job in her first six months on Garnette’s staff. Julie says it all came about from a question.

“A resident asked me how I liked working here,” Julie recalls. “I said ‘I love it here.’ She says, ‘Do they treat you well?’ and I said, ‘Oh yes, they treat us very well here.’” One thing led to another and before she knew it, she was recording this spot for a KLGR radio ad.

A mother of four and stepmother for three more, Julie said she’d always been interested in health care. She served at an area nursing home but found the job too physically taxing. After working in retail for a couple years, her husband suggested she apply for an opening at Garnette Gardens, noting the differences between a nursing home and the responsibilities in assisted living and memory care.  It was the right decision.

“The residents are just awesome,” Julie notes. “I love to listen to their stories. They talk about what it was like ‘back in the day,’ and we have a lot in common.”

While she grew up in the Twin Cities, Julie lives on a farm now and says she enjoys talking about farming with the residents. She says service for residents is what keeps her at Garnette Gardens. And the residents are clearly happy she’s part of the community. “We have one resident who just loves to tease me,” she says, “and you just have to give it back.”

The community offers 62 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who also value their independence but need options for personal care and supportive services. We also offer 16 memory care suites. Nine care suites round out the options, offering a higher level of assisted living care and supervision.

In command

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Along with his characteristic smile, Joe often wears a hat signifying his hitch in the U.S. Navy. For four years he served aboard the USS Columbia, the submarine illustrated by his side. Instead of helping to navigate that ship, he’s now fully in command of his current environment as a resident of Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN.

Joe is a Redwood Falls native, attended high school there, even owned the local roller-rink for a brief time at the age of 21.

Seven years after his Navy discharge, Joe was diagnosed with brain cancer. For two years, he underwent the whole series of chemotherapy and radiation. That cured the cancer, but he suspects the treatment also led to a stroke. While those misfortunes have been the biggest challenges of his 45 years, impacting his mobility and speech, they have not dampened his outlook on life.

“I’ve been through some things, but positivity has never gone away,” Joe relates. “In fact, it’s never been stronger.”

Highly skilled in computers and electronics, Joe has become a passionate motivational video producer. He started the series while living with his mother in Redwood Falls during his stroke recovery. While he’s grateful for his mom’s support, he yearned to live more independently. Recently, he moved into Garnette Gardens along with an array of professional quality video production equipment, where he continues to turn out videos like this one.

“I’ve been living here for a month,” notes Joe. “I love it here, the other residents are a hoot, the staff is great. I really feel at home here. Their assisted living here is awesome.”

As his slogan, Joe subscribes to a motivational sign hanging in a Garnette Gardens hallway – Be the Reason Someone Smiles Today. “I think the whole world needs positivity,” he says. “It’s infectious.”

The community offers 62 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who also value their independence but, like Joe, need options for personal care and supportive services. We also offer 16 memory care suites. Nine care suites round out the options, offering a higher level of assisted living care and supervision.

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.

Sally is still Sally

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Lynn Buckley’s expression describes the difference in today’s care for people with dementia as opposed to former methods prevalent in her field of expertise. For the last two years, Lynn has managed the memory care suites at Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN. She and the staff she manages provide long-term care for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

“That person is still there,” Lynn emphasizes, referring to the folks they care for. “They’re just not able to communicate with us in the way they used to. We need to know them as a person, their likes and dislikes, their life history. Knowing those pieces can help our whole approach to caring for somebody, including which interventions are better for certain behaviors.”

Lynn recently became a Certified Dementia Care Specialist. The CDCS certification involves specialized training in the latest standards and techniques for caring for patients and clients diagnosed with Dementia.

“Dementia is not a disease in itself. There are several diseases that involve dementia,” Lynn explains. “We need to educate people about the basic signs of dementia to get an early diagnosis.”

Lynn’s CDCS certification equips her to present several courses, some through the Alzheimer’s Association, which she plans to offer to community education in the local school district and in several other area venues. 

“I’ve always had a passion to work with older adults,” says Lynn, a Licensed Practical Nurse who started as a nursing assistant in high school. She went on to manage a hospital adult day program for 25 years before she joined Vista Prairie.

Lynn likes the direction that dementia-care is going, “It’s a whole culture change. You’re looking at behavior management methods other than medication. Back in the ‘80s we were supposed to bring clients back to reality. Well, that didn’t work. Now we just enter their reality. That’s person centered.”  

In addition to its 16 memory care suites, 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. Care Suites round out the options, offering enhanced care for people recovering from surgery or illness.

Holly and Jingles — out of quarantine!

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December 10 was a big day for Holly and Jingles as the two elves ended their 14-day quarantine.  They are back for their third year, making spirits bright for Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN. The COVID-19 safety protocol made this year’s visit a little different.

“The residents have really enjoyed them these last two years,” reports Colleen Marcus, Garnette’s community outreach manager. “A few will go around each day and look for where they might be.” 

With their new-found freedom, Holly and Jingles will be roaming around the community from now ‘till Christmas Eve, making sure everybody is ready for Santa. You can track their adventures on the community’s Facebook page

Holly and Jingles got their invitation from Garnette Gardens Executive Director Natalie Seehausen, whose daughter hosts their friend Elf on a Shelf each year at her house. Will the two elves will be back?

“We do plan to bring them back next year, under less difficult circumstances,” Colleen says. “They show up Friday after Thanksgiving and after Christmas eve they go home to the North Pole.”

The Garnette Gardens community is making spirits bright in 61 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors. We also offer 16 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Care Suites round out the options, offering enhanced care for people recovering from surgery or illness.