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Four longtime employees of the Piatt County Nursing Home in Monticello were recognized by a national organization for their dedication at the local long-term care facility.
Linda Barnett, Sue Craig, Wynoka “Noky” Ashmore and Melanie “Mel” Stevens have logged a combined 141 years at the nursing home. That prompted LeadingAge, a national organization of over 6,000 not-for-profit organizations serving senior adults, to recognize them at a national conference late last year.
All four said they were surprised by the announcement; and all concurred they don’t do it for the awards.
“It feels good to be a part of the community,” commented Ashmore. An LPN at the facility. “You feel a part of the community because you’re taking care of so many people.”
Craig added she continues to work in the business office at the nursing home in order to continue to help “the residents and their families.”
Nursing Home Administrator Karla Bradley said the LeadingAge honors also reflect well on the facility.
"The knowledge, skill and experience of these dedicated individuals is an asset to the nursing home and, more importantly, the older adults benefitting from their services. They exemplify quality," said Bradley.
Barnett, of Cisco, has been Director of the dietary department at the Piatt County Nursing Home for 38 years. She began working there at 22 years of age, and remembers when cooks were allowed to prepare meals without recipes, adding their own seasonings and cooking from scratch.
She also recalls staff arriving to work on winter days with suitcases in hand, prepared to spend the night if weather conditions became extreme. But when snow comes, she takes it in stride by building snowmen outside the dining room windows for residents to view.
Craig, of Champaign, has been employed in the business office for 35 years. She started part-time splitting hours between the kitchen and business office, and has also logged time in the personnel and fiscal services department.
Currently the Human Resources Director and Admissions Coordinator, she is one of the first people to have contact with families and residents.
“The biggest challenge is the ongoing increase of rules and regulations,” said Craig.
Ashmore, of Monticello, has cared for residents for 35 years, starting as a nursing assistant and becoming a licensed practical nurse in 1979. She has worked on the the general nursing floor, all shifts, and helped develop the Alzheimer’s Special Care Unit. Ashmore currently serves as a restorative nurse.
She calls her time at the nursing home “amazing.”
Melanie “Mel” Stevens
Stevens, of Bement, has 33 years of service at the facility. Starting in the dietary department while still in high school, she received her nursing license after attending Parkland College, then became a registered nurse in 1982. She later completed specialty certification in gerontology nursing.
Stevens has worked all shifts and currently serves as a nurse coordinator. She remembers starting her career in the traditional all white uniform – including a nursing cap – and points out that such an outfit is only seen now in movies.