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More than 50 years of service

2 women enjoy their work at Care center

NEW RICHLAND — Two employees at New Richland Care Center with more than 50 combined years of experience continue to assist in meeting the needs of residents.

Activities Director Kathy Flor has at least 36 years of experience at the care center. Certified nursing assistant Kelly Vanmaldeghem has at least 17.

“We take pride in our work,” Flor said. “We want this place to be a special place, a home-like environment.”

As activities director, Flor plans activities such as large group events, special entertainment, religious services, game activities, supper club, manicures and exercise.

“Being a smaller facility, we get more chances to visit with them, take time with them — and most of the time we know them already,” Vanmaldeghem said. “When they come in the door, we already know who they are or who they are related to.”

New Richland Care Center provides long-term care, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Flor said there were no computers in 1980 when she started as a certified nursing assistant. Resident charts were hand-written.

Over the years, Flor has seen families of co-workers grow since she started.

“It’s interesting to know their families,” she said. “Like how many kids Kelly has. … People grow up.”

Vanmaldeghem said she applied for job after seeing an ad for a position in the newspaper.

“I just had my first son and I thought, ‘Wow, this is perfect, it’s six miles from my home,” she said. “Kind of wanted to be in the nursing field. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a nurse or what. So, I came in and applied, and got hired. Did my classes here, tested out and guess I’ve been here ever since.”

Flor said the residents are the reason she has worked at the care center for 36 years.

“Just all of the knowledge they have and share with us,” she said. “We just learn a lot from them.

“A lot of them didn’t have much years ago. We have some residents who are going to be 100 years old coming up. To think of all they’ve lived through — we just take it all for granted.”

Staff at the facility are close. Co-workers sometimes go out for supper and spend time together outside of work.

“They become your friends,” Vanmaldeghem said.

Though the care center can be the last place clients live, Vanmaldeghem said the connections staff form with patients can help ease the pain when someone dies.

“I think we can look at it in a different view, because we are with them every day,” she said. “We see them come in, and then we see them decline and decline. And we just know they are in a better place, and it’s comforting to know that.”

By the Numbers

1980 – Year Flor started working at New Richland Care Center

50 – Beds at New Richland Care Center

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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