WHEELING — For the staff and leadership at Elmhurst House of Friendship, working to make sure the residents are happy and fulfilled is more than a job — it’s a source of joy.
Jamie Crow, who is coming up on 16 years serving as executive director at Elmhurst, was recognized as the 2022 Assisted Living Professional of the Year by the West Virginia Health Care Association. She will receive her award at a presentation in Morgantown in September.
Crow said that over her career at Elmhurst she’s seen the facility grow, both in size and in ability to serve its residents. The facility had expanded from 34 rooms to 46, and more recently, Elmhurst was authorized to distribute medicine to residents, something they’d previously needed to be able to do themselves.
“They all had to take their own medicines on their own; they were self-medicating,” Crow said. “If a resident couldn’t take their own medicine, they had to leave us. It was very sad to me because that was the only issue, and they love Elmhurst, because this was their home.
“Six years ago, we started our (Approved Medication Service Personnel) program,” she continued. “We now employ more nurses, we employ RNs and LPNs, plus resident assistants who give medicine on our Director of Nursing’s license.”
Crow said the staff at Elmhurst has labored to keep its residents engaged and active, most recently trying to stage an outdoor picnic this past week. While weather prevented the picnic from taking place outdoors, the event was moved indoors.
“We had it in our family room — they were dancing and singing, with picnic food and prizes, and that’s what it’s all about,” she said. “Our oldest resident is 102, our next oldest is 100, and our youngest is 79. You have a mix of folks, but you also have a mix of history and what they have lived through, and there’s a lot of things they still haven ‘t experienced that we want to be able to give them to improve their quality of life.”
Crow credited her award to her staff and to Marty Wright, CEO of the WVHCO, who provided constant guidance through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I thank (Wright) for his leadership through COVID, because we had weekly calls, weekend calls, and they forged the way for all the assisted living and long term care (facilities) for us,” she said. “I don’t do this to be given awards. … I have a great staff around me that make it look easy sometimes.”
COVID had served as a challenging time for the facility, as it had for long-term care facilities across the globe, as visitation and movement around the facility was heavily limited for health reasons. During this time, Crow said, staff normally kept at the front desk to greet visitors were moved to dietary functions to better serve residents their meals.
“Between the residents, the residents’ families, our staff, we all work together for the same goal — the residents,” she said. “That’s the most important outcome of all this. I love my job; this is not a job for me. I love my residents, I love my staff, we work hard to keep and train our staff.
“I would sit and hold their hand—I love them. That’s what makes this job so rewarding for me. It doesn’t seem like (it’s been 16 years) because every day is different. We’ve navigated uncharted waters. There’s going to be a lot of firsts for us as we move forward, but we sit down, brainstorm how we’re going to do things, and we’ve done it, just as we think it’s insurmountable.”