You might see Dodger offering cuddles and play time at Villages of Jackson Creek

We work hard to celebrate all of the amazing patients, partners, and family members who make up our centers. But there’s another group you may not know about that brings love, friendship, and wellness to our NHC community: the NHC dogs. 

Whether patients are visiting us for a short stay or living full-time in one of our long-term care centers, these furry friends help patients feel at home and remind them that they’re not alone. It’s no surprise, then, that therapy dogs are proven to reduce depression and anxiety for many of the people who interact with them. 

Mia is always willing to visit patients who need a friend at NHC Cookeville

Beyond the emotional benefits, did you know that dogs can also help people heal faster from an injury or illness? Some of the dogs you might see around your center are “facility therapy dogs” or “animal assisted therapy dogs.” These dogs are trained to work with a physical or occupational therapist to help patients with a variety of exercises, movements, and tasks. 

We even find that our “therapeutic visitation dogs” — who are mostly there to offer emotional support — bring a playful energy that encourages patients who are able to be more active and engaged.

Millie Wigglebottom helped NHC McMinnville patients celebrate the Fourth of July

It’s not uncommon to find a patient who’s hesitant to mingle with their peers coming out of their room to join the fun when one of our dog friends arrives for a visit. And if they’re unable to leave their bed, our visitation dogs are always willing to drop by their room for some one-on-one attention and cuddles.

Keep an eye out for a friendly therapy dog the next time you visit one of our centers, and don’t be afraid to give them some love! 

When your family member stays at an NHC center, you can trust that they’re in the best of hands. Not only do our patients and residents receive excellent medical treatment, but they also build strong relationships and emotional connections with the partners who care for them every day.

This is especially true with our Certified Nursing Assistants, who are responsible for many of the day-to-day tasks that keep our centers running. CNAs do everything from checking patient vitals to helping them with grooming to caring for wounds to making sure their rooms stay clean.

In honor of National CNA Week, we wanted to shine a spotlight on our amazing CNAs and give you a closer look at the care your loved one will receive at any of our NHC centers.

Building Genuine Connections Across Generations

Because CNAs see their patients every single day, they are often the people whom your loved one will form the closest relationships with.

“I had a stroke patient one time, she was my age. We became really bonded, and she was like my best friend. We talked, we had children the same age, and we just became really, really close,” shared Bridgette, a CNA who has worked at NHC for 32 years.

Bridgette says the relationships she’s built are the things that motivate her to keep coming back day after day.

“The atmosphere is family oriented. It’s the best place to work,” she shared. “I’ve worked in other nursing homes before, but this is my home. I love it.”

One young CNA shared that she’s loved the opportunity to learn from the seniors she works with.

“I started working here when I was in high school, and just being able to tell them my stories and then being able to hear theirs was amazing. They just provide so much wisdom and entertainment,” said Madison.

This atmosphere exists across our centers, whether your loved one is coming for a short-term stay after an injury or is entering long-term care.

“I love my residents. I like to see them get better and go home, because I work on the rehab unit, mainly. But I also like to go visit the long-term unit and see the residents that I’ve met through rehab who get to stay with us,” shared Lynda.

Discovering a Passion for Nursing

Many of our CNAs start working at NHC in high school, or they come to us through one of our free CNA classes. These classes give people an opportunity to explore a career in nursing and become certified as a CNA by the end of the program.

“At first I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” one CNA shared about her class experience. “As you go through all the steps and you go through the learning process of how to do things, everything just becomes natural to you if you are a nurturer like me.”

Sometimes the people who start as volunteers or Temporary Nursing Assistants in our centers fall in love with senior care and decide to get certified.

“I’m going to take the CNA classes at NHC because it’s a great opportunity. It’s fully paid for,” shared Luke, a Temporary Nursing Assistant who plans to become a CNA. “[We can] give [patients] a sense of hope and a sense of positivity, whatever might be going on in their life. Because we all need that as people. We’re always looking to be known by someone else.”

The next time you see a CNA in one of our centers, be sure to stop and thank them for all they do!

At NHC, we know that none of the care we provide would be possible without our excellent team of nurses. We’re so grateful to each and every nurse for their commitment to serving their patients and fellow partners.

In honor of National Nurses Month, we’re excited to highlight the story of one person who truly exemplifies what it means to “care in a better way, day by day.” Dorothy “Tooter” Shelton is NHC’s longest tenured, currently working nurse, and she’s dedicated the past 41 years to providing the highest quality of care for her patients at NHC Lewisburg.

Tooter started working as a tech, and then used NHC’s tuition reimbursement to go to nursing school and complete her LPN. She’s beloved by her team and her patients, and many patients even request her when they first admit to the center.

“I had the honor of working with Tooter for 18 years at NHC Lewisburg.  Her dedication and compassion for her patients, families, and partners is second to none,” shared Regional Administrator Scott Bidwell. “She has positively impacted thousands of patient and partner lives over the years.”

When asked to describe her, Tooter’s fellow partners talked about the way she welcomes and treats everyone like family. They share that she loves to smile and joke, and she’s great at making other people smile.

“I was a CNA under Tooter and continued as a fellow nurse, and then ADON. She is an exemplary nurse and mentor,” Regional Nurse Tina Groenveld recalled. “It is an honor to have worked with Tooter for many years. She is a blessing to NHC, and she has touched countless lives of patients, families, and partners.”

Tooter has also inspired many other people to go to nursing school, and she’s even cared for some of her former co-workers when they later became patients.

“I would definitely request for her to be my nurse if needed,” shared NHC Lewisburg Administrator Derrick Scott. “She puts her heart into everything that she does no matter what.  We are all better for knowing her and blessed to have her on our team.  She is NHC Lewisburg!”