Dedicated, committed and able to keep a cool head in stressful situations is how Cheryl Wirnsberger, administrator at Meadowmere Northshore, describes Caldonia Washington.
“All the residents love her because she’s compassionate and patient,” Wirnsberger said.
Washington is responsible for overseeing 62 residents in the Mequon assisted living apartment facility, which is operated by Premier Care Centers. Washington distributes daily medication, takes blood pressure readings and gathers other vital medical information about the residents.
“She’s compassionate and willing to learn,” said Wirnsberger, recalling a moment when Washington was hired. “After I called her and told her she had the job, two days later, she came in. She just said, ‘I want to thank you so much,’ and she gave me this huge hug, and I was just like … well, I had never received a response like that before.”
Wirnsberger said Washington has proven herself as a true patient advocate over the years.
“She will never let you down. She never calls in sick, and when Caldonia first started cleaning apartments, she came up with new ideas on how to be more efficient and more organized,” Wirnsberger said. “I just had a good feeling about her. She wanted to do the job.”
Washington’s first brush with nursing care happened as a teenager when she took care of her bedridden mother in Mississippi. A variety of jobs brought her to the Milwaukee area, and eventually doors started opening at Premier Care Centers.
“My niece and nephew were working in the kitchen at Meadowmere, and I was trying to get a better job,” Washington said. “They had a housekeeping position open.”
A program assistant position
“I was a little skeptical about taking it, but it turned out rewarding,” said Washington, who enjoys the one-on-one interaction with residents and helping them with health care needs. “My administrator sent me to school to get my certified nursing assistant license, and next April I will have been here seven years.”
Mindy Manone, director of corporate marketing at Premier Care Centers, nominated Washington for the Health Care Heroes Award.
“I train our entire company, and I see a value in employees who exemplify customer service, and Caldonia has always been one of those people who stands out,” Manone said, touting Washington’s high levels of common sense and accountability.
“Without people like Caldonia, I have very little to market, and she’s a huge component of our marketing because she really loves what she does,” Manone said. “We have beautiful buildings and a great service plan, and we’re reasonably priced, but when it comes down to it, we hope people are going to choose us based upon the care we provide and that starts with our staff, and that starts with Caldonia.”
“Everything my administrator asks me to do, I’ll do it,” Washington said. “My administrator opens doors for me, and the residents are my family. I’ll always go that extra mile for them.”