We at Marjorie P. Lee Retirement Community continue to be amazed at how our team, residents, families, donors, and volunteers have risen to this moment of crisis during COVID-19. For that reason, we’d like to introduce you to one of the team members who helps us make sure our residents receive the highest level of care — not just during a pandemic but every day. That team member is Director of Nursing, Judi Dean.
We recently sat down with Judi to discuss senior health and nursing services at Marjorie P. Lee. Read the full interview below.
ERS: Can you briefly describe your role at MPL?
JUDI: I’m responsible for organizing, controlling, and maintaining operations for the nursing departments. Essentially, I plan, evaluate, and direct nursing services at Marjorie. It’s a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year role. In addition to day-to-day nursing services, I am responsible for our memory support specialty program.
Most importantly, though, I make sure we are providing quality resident care. I accomplish this by looking at systems, interventions, and ways we can improve care and care delivery.
I also manage financial resources and represent nursing services to the administration. I have to work within state and federal regulations and make sure policies and procedures are in place and that our staff know what those are or how to find them. I collaborate with all the other departments to make sure all of our residents’ needs are met and that it’s holistic so they have the quality of life that they desire.
Finally, I have to find the right people to fill nursing positions and make sure the staff fits with the ERS culture and our ways of working.
ERS: It sounds like there’s never a dull moment!
JUDI: Nope, never. I’ve been at Marjorie P. Lee for 31 years and never did I think 31 years ago that I’d be working during a pandemic!
And, you know, people say “oh, it must be boring” since I’ve been doing it for so long but I still learn things all the time. That’s why I love Episcopal Retirement Services. We’re always moving forward. We’re always ahead of things. I get to be a part of that and be on the front-end of something, and that’s something to be proud of. It’s not boring. Healthcare is always changing, and you never know what it’s going to throw at you.
ERS: What training do you and the rest of the nursing staff complete before and during your time at MPL?
JUDI: Since our staff includes state-tested or licensed physicians, they usually come with their skill set. But, what they really have to learn is our operations and our systems. Not only do they get their orientation and introduction into our culture before they start, but they also get to spend some time working with another staff member who has been there for a while. That goes for every position, from nursing assistant to charge nurse. And during that time, they’re being competency checked for all the skills they may be using during their tenure with us.
ERS: Are there continuing education opportunities available to nursing staff?
JUDI: Yes, there are lots of opportunities. We offer in-person training as well as online training that HR helps us with. We provide various in-services for nursing assistants. We also have safety fairs that cover a great deal of topics including falls, HIPAA, infection control, and more. It’s a one-day thing where staff moves through different stations.
We’re also part of the Congestive Heart Failure program at The Christ Hospital, and you have to offer specific training every year on heart failure, so we always bring them in to do that.
Pictured: Judi Dean with a resident in Marjorie P. Lee’s Berghamer House.
ERS: That was my next question. How did Marjorie P. Lee earn the title of a Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Center of Excellence by The Christ Hospital?
JUDI: There was a great deal of criteria and guidelines that we had to meet and show proof of in order to be part of their program. I took the lead on that project. I started by reviewing the American Heart Association criteria and what their regulations were and made sure we complied with all of those in terms of our policies, and that we were assessing and documenting the right way. It was a year’s worth of work.
We put everything in a binder and then they reviewed all of our materials. We met the criteria, so they let us join their network. What that means is we’re able to care for a heart failure patient according to the highest standards. Christ Hospital is known for their cardiovascular program, so it was a real honor to earn that title. It has availed us a lot of resources if we ever need them for training or consult.
ERS: Marjorie P. Lee is also considered a Center of Excellence for short-stay rehab by area hospitals. What did MPL do to maintain this prestigious title?
JUDI: A lot of the work in earning that title was a partnership with our Director of Case Management, Annie Novak, and my Care Team Manager. Renovating the rooms was also huge in that regard because it really gave us the space that we needed to provide a high-level of care.
We’ve got great nurses, too. They really are good. This is because we not only carefully screen candidates, but we also continue to educate them so they know the latest.
We also look at our data and our return-to-hospitalization rate. If we have a lot of people going back to the hospital, we root cause it and say, “Why is this happening? Is there a pattern or a trend? What can we do differently? Is there more education in a certain area that the staff needs in order to improve that system?” That way, we can identify what we need to do and get that information to our nurses so we can improve on it. That’s something we’ve been doing at ERS for years. We always look for opportunities for growth and improvement.
ERS: How do you communicate with families about a resident’s well-being during their time at Marjorie P. Lee?
JUDI: Our nurses are always in contact with the families. Especially when there’s a change in their orders or if we notice a change in condition or something that’s alerting us. A nurse will immediately call.
We also have a strong social work department, and they’re great at communicating. So if there’s anything they think the family should know about, they will reach out as well.
We have care conferences in which we review plans of care for all of our residents, both on the skilled nursing side and on the residential side. We just try to make ourselves available and reach out as often as we can. For example, like right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, families can’t visit the community so we know that they’re worried about their loved ones. We’re reaching out at least once a week and giving them updates. I think that’s been really helpful for them.
ERS: How can I tell if my loved one needs long-term care? What are the warning signs?
JUDI: When families start to notice that their loved one is forgetting things more often or not using the best judgment. Also falling, maybe not eating as much, not being able to do their laundry. Look for tasks they used to do themselves independently, and now they’re starting to see they’re not getting done or not getting done as well. That’s always the time to think, “Hey, maybe they don’t need all these responsibilities or they need some help with their activities of daily living.”
The biggest part, really, is socialization. Being in a community with other people your age that are going through the same things. It’s amazing what that can do for someone’s wellbeing. You can really tell the difference. If a loved one is isolated, moving into a community can fix that which, in turn, fixes a lot of other things.
ERS: What do you like most about being the Director of Nursing at Marjorie P. Lee?
JUDI: I just love my job. I love working with the staff, and I love the residents. ERS is a great organization. You’re allowed to be you, and they want you to be your best and they help you do that. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be — obviously since I’ve been here for so long. I’ve always been given what I’ve needed to do my job. Also, my dad lived at Marjorie P. Lee. My mother-in-law is there now. How comforting for me because I know they’re in a great place.
I had a guardian angel that led me to this place.
Do you have more questions related to nursing at Marjorie P. Lee? We invite you to fill out an information request form. Also, download our Positive Aging guide for more on how to improve your loved one’s outlook.