Spotlight on Health Services

As we slowly and safely emerge from the pandemic, we are hopeful!  We are hopeful for times of great reunion, joy, and happiness. This month we would like to highlight a few members of our Health Services leadership team and their stories. We are forever grateful for their stories and devotion to our Employees and Residents.

Meet Jennifer Cushman RN, BSN, RAC-CT, Director of Clinical Compliance. Jennifer has been in geriatric healthcare for the last 28 years. She started as a nursing assistant during high school working the night shift. Upon graduation, she attended Seminole State College and completed her associate degree in nursing and received her licensure as a registered nurse in 2001. She went on to complete her bachelor’s in nursing education at Southern Nazarene University.

She has served the last 20 years in nursing leadership roles as well as corporate consultation including Long Term Care, Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living, and Rehabilitation Hospitals. She just celebrated her first year with Epworth Villa. The COVID pandemic had just begun when Jennifer started at Epworth Villa. Here is her story:

“Right as I began at Epworth Villa, everyone was looking to me to give direction and initiate policies in this epic health crisis. A crisis that no current nurse alive has ever faced. The guidance from state and federal authorities was constantly changing. It was changing daily and sometimes even hourly. My entire career I have had constant interaction with residents, family members, and employees. Suddenly, I was displaced due to quarantines and limited visitation. It drastically changed our daily interactions with one another.

I suffered losses due to the virus. Like many others, I missed celebrations and funerals. I wept for Residents and loved ones trying to say their final goodbyes over electronic devices.  In October, I too contracted the virus from my son.  I fortunate enough to avoid hospitalization, but it has had lingering effects. In December, the virus swept through my extended family including my 74-year-old father who gave me quite a scare with how it affected him.  He has now – thankfully recovered.

In all of this, the faithfulness of God to provide wisdom, strength, and hope for each moment has astounded me. Sometimes all I could do through tears of frustration, fear, or grief was to whisper, “Jesus, help.” He always answered. He upheld me. He brought a word of encouragement or wisdom needed in that time.

I was asked to share with you my story answering the question, ‘How did you help residents and employees thrive during the pandemic? My answer will always be, I could not have helped without the grace of God. When speaking to residents, families, and employees who were terrified, or exhausted, or angry with precious time lost because of this virus, I asked our Father in heaven to give me His grace to be a peacemaker and to bring hope. This has not been an easy time for anyone.  I may not have been perfect in my efforts, but God has been faithful, even where I fall short. The verse that has stayed in my mind was Romans 8:37-39: ‘Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God.’”