Sheila Jenkins, a medical records clerk, is one of five employees who recently marked 20 years of dedicated service to the residents of Smith Village, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Beverly. She joined the staff as a certified nursing assistant, having obtained her CNA certification from Olive Harvey College.
Each day she looks forward to interacting with residents and listening to their stories. Over the years, her responsibilities have changed but her caring manner hasn’t. “When I look at a resident’s medical records, I don’t just see a name and information,” says Jenkins. “I see the person. I know them. I know their families.”
After 10 years as a CNA, Jenkins’s supervisor encouraged her to update and maintain records for residents on one floor of Smith’s skilled nursing care wing. She proved so well suited for the task, she was given even more responsibility.
These days, maintaining records for many of Smith Village’s residents requires Jenkins’ unwavering attention and persistence. To keep on top of her work, the Calumet Park resident sets goals for herself each day. “Some people say I’m just too organized,” she confesses. “But that’s not really true. My system keeps me focused.”
Jenkins welcomed the CCRC’s transition to electronic medical records, saying the new system offers many advantages, including the ability to update records more quickly. But even with the onset of electronic record keeping that moves information more rapidly, she still insists on getting to know Smith Village residents.
“I’ll take breaks and visit with the residents, just to spend time and get to know them better,” says Jenkins. “I really enjoy them. Some residents have lived here more than 20 years. When I look at their records, I know I’m working with an important chapter in their personal history. But I also understand how EMR information relates to their overall healthcare picture.”
Like Jenkins, four other Smith Village employees recently celebrated 20-year anniversaries and say relating to Smith Village residents is the most important and rewarding aspect of their jobs.
“Our employees are what make Smith communities a top choice for residents and their families. Their dedication and enthusiasm for sharing their talents truly make a difference in the daily lives of all who live at Smith Village and Smith Crossing in Orland Park,” said Kevin McGee, CEO and president of Smith Senior Living, which sponsors both CCRCs.
“I’ve gotten really close with several residents,” says Diane Mayer, a night-shift nurse who earned her licensed practical nurse degree through a program offered within Chicago Public Schools. “I enjoy connecting with residents and I’ve learned so much about them and from them. After 20 years, I still get hugs, so I must be doing something right!” Mayer lives in Worth.
Dennis Cronin, a technician working in Smith Village’s Environmental Services department, performs preventive maintenance on heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems to keep residents comfortable and safe and to ensure a healthy living environment. He also answers maintenance requests from individual residents. “That’s really the favorite part of my job,” says Cronin, who lives nearby in Chicago Beverly neighborhood. “”When I can do something to help them, it makes me feel good.”
Ken Duffy, also a maintenance technician, enjoys daily contact with residents. “Whether it involves helping someone hang a picture or fix a clogged drain, I always find it’s a pleasure to help out residents,” says Duffy. “They are such wonderful people. Some have said, ‘I didn’t want to bother you,’ but I always tell them it’s no bother. I enjoy helping out.” Duffy resides in Chicago Ridge.
Dottie Jones, a server and a resident of Chicago’s Southside Ashburn neighborhood, also celebrated 20 years.
Smith Senior Living, a not-for-profit organization serving older adults, established its first community in 1924, on the same city block where Smith Village stands today.
Both of its CCRCs provide spacious independent living residences, and apartments for assisted living, as well as memory support and skilled nursing care. In addition, they offer short-term rehab programs for residents and others who have had surgery or a medical incident.
For more information about how Smith Senior Living can help seniors enjoy their retirement, contact Smith Crossing at 326-2300or SmithCrossing.org and Smith Village at 773-474-7300 or SmithVillage.org.
— Smith Senior Living