Archived Story

Progress 2011: Angels at St. John’s

Published 6:00pm Wednesday, March 2, 2011

With a combined experience of more than 50 years at St. John’s Lutheran Home, three certified nursing assistants at the facility have been able to effect the lives of hundreds of residents.

Photo by Sarah Stultz/cutout by Stacey Bahr

Though CNAs ShaRon Eng, Paula Munkberg and Diana Paulson work at different wings of the facility, they have one large factor in common: they are always thinking of the people they serve.

“We try to be as accommodating as we can to their likes and dislikes, what time they want to go to bed — that they get their choices,” Eng said.

Eng works on the Second North neighborhood, Munkberg works on the short-stay unit and Paulson works in the First North neighborhood.

At St. John’s Lutheran Home, a neighborhood is akin to a wing.

Munkberg said she works with residents who are in need of rehabilitation or hospice care, while Paulson and Eng work with residents who are living at the facility on a long-term basis. Paulson also works with some with residents who have Alzheimer’s disease.

As CNAs, they said they have a variety of responsibilities, including helping residents with the ins and outs of daily living, whether its taking them to activities, bathing them or helping them eat — doing pretty much whatever’s needed besides giving out medications.

One St. John’s Lutheran Home resident stands up when it is her time to bowl on the Nintendo Wii in January. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Eng noted that some of her challenges of the job include adjusting to the needs, likes and dislikes of new residents and trying to care for residents who are combative.

For Paulson, one of her challenges is transitioning from the Alzheimer’s unit to her other nurse’s station.

Munkberg said her main challenge is caring for people who are at the end of their lives, knowing when they come in for hospice care that they will probably not live much longer.

While it can sometimes be a challenging job, the women said what makes it all worthwhile is when the residents or the residents’ families give them a simple “thank you.”

Residents often also tell them they missed them on their days off, which they say is a touching word of appreciation.

“The people who can’t thank us, they give us candy,” Eng said with a smile.

Eng, Munkberg and Paulson said they like the sense of teamwork at St. John’s among the employees.

“It’s a good facility to work with,” Munkberg said. “You can ask anybody a question here.”

“And all departments work together and respect each other,” Eng added.

Hero: ShaRon Eng
Secret identity: certified nursing assistant, team leader
Base of operations: St. John’s Lutheran Home, Albert Lea
Superpowers: likes people and different personalities
Kryptonite: low tolerance for tardy people
Affiliations: husband, Tom; six children, 13 grandchildren
Origin: Eng has worked as a CNA at St. John’s Lutheran Home for 21 years after losing her job at Land O’ Lakes. She works in the Second North neighborhood — or wing — of the facility during the second shift from 3 to 11 p.m.

Hero: Paula Munkberg
Secret identity: certified nursing assistant, team leader
Base of operations: St. John’s Lutheran Home, Albert Lea
Superpowers: caring and compassionate
Kryptonite: caring and compassionate
Affiliations: husband, Kyle, two children
Origin: Munkberg has worked at St. John’s Lutheran Home for a little more than 10 years. She said she needed a full-time job and didn’t want to work at a factory. She works in the short-stay unit, where people come for rehabilitation or to seek hospice services.

Hero: Diana Paulson
Secret identity: certified nursing assistant
Base of operations: St. John’s Lutheran Home, Albert Lea.
Superpowers: her family and grandchildren
Kryptonite: spiders
Affiliations: husband, Randy, four children
Origin: Paulson has worked at St. John’s Lutheran Home for 22 years. She works in the First North unit from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.