Published February 27th
#WhyIHEARTByron blog: an interview with Diane Bader, Laundry Aide
Working at Byron Health Center can be a lot of things. Normally, one wouldn’t use the word “lit” to describe it though. But for Diane Bader, one of her most fond memories of Byron was when Herman Zeppering, a resident who lived at Byron for 37 years and passed away in 2016, gave Diane a tea candle, as he knew she liked them. She ended up lighting the tea candle while in her car and then accidentally set her car ablaze. This is just one of many stories Diane shared when discussing her #whyIHEARTByron story.
Diane has worked at Byron for 36 years total. She started originally in 1982, leaving after about four years due to the stress of seeing residents pass away and some changes in her family. Then, she came back less than a year later in 1987. Diane has served in many roles at Byron Health Center ranging from transporting residents to and from Anthony Wayne and ARC workshops to now working as a laundry aide, washing and drying our resident’s personal clothing.
At one time she, was a transporter for therapy, as we had over 500 residents on our campus and she would transport residents to and from their occupational and physical therapy appointments. She has also been handy at fixing and maintaining wheelchairs and tracking inventory of our supplies in Central Supply. Wearing as many hats as she has, Diane can tell you story after story about our residents.
One story that she loves to share is about when residents were going to see the circus at the Coliseum many years ago. Over 100 residents were gathered and seated in the back of a semi-trailer, which was specially equipped with heat and lights, and driven down Lima Road to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Diane says the residents had a blast and went to the circus numerous times. Now, this would never happen today, but back when babies didn’t need car seats and everyone rode in the back of a pick-up truck, it wasn’t nearly as unusual.
As far as the future and our new building, Diane is most excited about our residents having a new home. She says it will be so awesome to see our residents, who have lived at Byron Health Center for decades, be able to move into a brand new building. She simply “just can’t wait”.
When she isn’t working at Byron in laundry, she loves to spend time mushroom hunting, spending quality time with her husband and children and seeing her grand-puppies. Everyone at Byron Health Center is grateful to Diane for her dedication over the past three decades to our residents, and we heart her just as much as she hearts Byron!
Published February 18th
#WhyIHEARTByron blog from one of our Resident Engagement Specialists, Silvia Nino
Do you leave work at the end of your day and think of the impact you had or the great things you did in that one given day? I have been a team member here at Byron Health Center for 4 years and it’s been a journey I will say that I will forever be grateful for! Each day is never the same. We love to laugh and have fun while getting the job done at the same time.
I started out as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). Caring for our family members each day was always a joy. Shortly then after, I became a Restorative Nurse Assistant, where I was able to take on more of a leadership role while continuing to make a difference in the lives of residents and team members. Currently, I am a Resident Engagement Specialist (RES) for our Memory Care Neighborhoods, which is my passion and career goal.
Throughout this whole process, Byron Health Center has given me the opportunity for growth. I completed my Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Ivy Tech and I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s Degree, majoring in Human Services with a minor in Psychology, at Indiana Tech. I also have developed a love for working with individuals that have by Huntington’s Disease, been able to attend conferences and meetings that educate about the ailment, and become an advocate for those who are affected by the disease.
Here at Byron Health Center, we are a family that loves to see each other succeed. We praise one another, lift each other higher through our successes and learn from our failures. These values are nurtured throughout the team, from the CEO to nursing staff to food service, laundry and maintenance. We all care!
Through my voyage here at Byron Health Center, I have come to know one thing is true: each and every day I walk through the front doors, I know I will leave at the end of the day having made at least one small difference in someone’s life. I am grateful for the encouragement and motivation from my Byron family to continue on and become the best version of me that I can be.
This is #whyIHeartByron!
Published February 14th
A Very Special Valentine’s Day #WhyIHEARTByron blog from Audra Guy, Byron Health Center CFO, and Lane Guy, Mind Remapping Specialist (as told by Lane)
Audra and I started dating back in in 1991. She was 16 and I was 19. Two years later, I asked her to marry me. Coming up on April 8th, we will now have been married for 24 years. We have welcomed two amazing sons into our lives. Jacob, our first, in 1997, and Ian in 1999. They have been the light of our lives.
Audra started working at Byron Health Center on April 8th of 2014 in the Business Office. She now serves the organization as the Chief Financial Officer. When she first began working at Byron Health Center, she would come home each night and talk about how great it was to be a part of the community there. She insisted that I needed to come out to an event and see for myself. My first experience just happened to be the filming of our Pink Glove Dance contest entry back in July of 2014. Anyone who knows me even just a little bit also knows that dancing is way out of my comfort zone. But what I saw there that evening was amazing. The love for the residents … the love for the staff … I knew I wanted to be a part of that. We went on to win 3rd place nationally in the contest and I started out as the Environmental Services Supervisor one month later. I have since held a few different positions within the organization, including Life Enrichment Specialist and Transportation Specialist, but now serve as a Mind Remapping Specialist. But, what we do here every day isn’t really what ‘our’ story is all about.
Three weeks after I had started at Byron, Audra and I received the phone call that any parent would dread. Our oldest son, Jacob, was riding to school with several friends. The driver had become distracted and there had been an accident. Out of the four young men in the car, we were told that only our son didn’t make it. I tell this story not to bring up sad memories, as we have plenty of those, but to share with you what Byron Health Center and its team members did for us.
We live in Ottoville, OH, which is about an hour away from work. We had to get back to Ohio and our youngest son, Ian, and then … to Jacob. Instead of jumping in the car and heading out while we were still in shock, and really just too emotional to drive safely, two amazing team members stepped forward to drive us home. And that was just the beginning of their kindness. Not only did team members drive an hour to Jacob’s showing, many also donated money, time and support to us over the next several weeks unlike anything that we had ever seen.
That was nearly five years ago and, since that time, the Byron Health Center team members and residents have become our family. Ian has also been a part of the Byron community since his junior year at Ottoville High School. He volunteers at all of the events and even completed an IT internship here during his junior and senior years of high school. The residents always love to see Ian and he helps to solve any tech issues they might have.
Throughout our marriage, Audra and I have both worked in many healthcare related jobs. Yet, we have never experienced the family environment and commitment our leadership team has provided, not just to the residents, but to the staff as well. There are so many reasons #whyIHEARTBYRON, but the two biggest reasons are 1) getting to work with amazing people in all departments whose goal is to protect the health and safety of our residents while making sure they are living their best life and 2) developing relationships with our residents who are the most grateful people we have ever met.
My only wish is that Jacob could have been able to meet everyone at Byron Health Center. He had a servant’s heart and would probably even be working here with us today. We are so grateful to all the team members and residents that ask us about him daily and help to keep his memory alive. We are so thankful to the Byron Health Center community for continuing to be one of our many support systems until we are reunited with our son in Heaven one very sweet day.
Published February 5th
#WhyIHEARTByron … and Bingo blog: an interview with Gwen Poindexter, QMA
Nowadays, it is rare to see anyone stay at a place of employment for longer than five years. (Who are we kidding? Even a one year stay is amazing these days!) Gwen Poindexter is a Qualified Medication Aide (QMA) who has worked at Byron Health Center with our “Miller’s Place” Assisted Living community for over 25 years. Prior to being one of our team members, she worked for 20 years at the State Developmental Center until the day it closed. To say she is a diamond in the rough is an understatement.
Gwen is dedicated and loyal and FUNNY!!! Ask anyone at Byron who comes in contact with Gwen, if you don’t leave the conversation laughing, she must be concerned about something with one of our residents. She considers the residents at Miller’s Place her friends, her brothers and sisters, who she gets to help each and every day.
She originally started working at Byron Health Center as part of an “agency”, or temporary staff member. She worked on the 2nd floor which, at the time, is where our residents with paraplegia or young traumatic brain injury residents lived. Gwen states, “These residents were young and it was very hard work, but I loved it!”
When she applied to work at Byron part-time, she had just gone through a break-up and needed some extra income. She never thought she would still be here 25+ years later! She originally wanted to keep working on the 2nd floor, but the nursing staff encouraged her to go work on “Section 15” as Miller’s Place was known back in the day. She credits Violet Ellowsky, a QMA at the time but now a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and our Clinic Manager, for getting her the job. Gwen explains, “Violet kept telling everyone how good I was, so they hired me on the spot!”
Gwen’s favorite thing about working at Byron Health Center is how fun she thinks that all the residents are. She says it is important to her that they are treated like family, not treated a different way because of their medical diagnosis. Treated like family means being stern at times, to make sure the resident is respectful to others, but it is important that the residents know she cares about them. But caring about them also means making sure they know they can’t just do anything they want.
Caring about others is Gwen’s passion. Byron IS her heart! But, because of that, it is important that she takes time to recharge. Her favorite way to recharge is by playing BINGO! “Because,” she says, “when you play BINGO, you can’t think about anything else other than BINGO!” She doesn’t have a lucky charm or secret method. She just enjoys playing. And let me tell you, we all love to hear about her wins … and hope to hear about them for years to come.
Gwen Poindexter is what Byron Health Center is all about: love, caring, loyalty and fun! We heart Gwen as much as Gwen hearts Byron!!!
Published January 28th
#whyIHEARTBYRON Kickoff blog from our Administrator and Executive Director, Sarah Starcher
As we start to gear up for the most romantic month of the year, I would like to introduce our theme for February: #whyIHEARTByron. I often tell people that I “heart” Byron, like an ode to the infamous ‘I “heart” New York’ t-shirts. I heart Byron with my whole heart and I am so excited to share some of our incredible stories with you!
We will be featuring four different stories in the month of February, centered around different staff members and their unique experiences here at Byron and how their love of Byron has made an impact on their life. Some of them have been here many years and some of them are newer; either way their love of Byron runs deep.
We will also debut a video showcasing our different families that work together, as we have many different sets of family members that call Byron their home away from home. It always is a fascinating thing when someone works with their mother, sister or husband on a daily basis but it warms my heart that this happens so frequently here at Byron. Honestly, my forever Valentine and husband, Shaaun, has asked me if I thought we could ever work together and I just can’t imagine it; mostly because I am pretty Right brain and he is totally Left. It works with parenting but might not end so well at work J
In a month where there are red hearts all around and yummy chocolate fills the air, I hope that by sharing our stories, readers start to understand truly what makes Byron so special and why we all “heart” it so much!
Published January 24th
Recipes with Care blog from our Scheduling Coordinator, Donna Money
The Legend of “Brookies’!
Some people hear the word “Brookies” and wonder … ‘what are those’? Well, let me explain. Imagine a brownie colliding with a cookie, which results in – COMPLETE HEAVEN!!
I was at home one evening and it was very cold outside (like 15 degrees below zero). It was snowing, the wind was very strong and my cable kept going out! I was so frustrated with my cable that I decided to turn my TV off and find something else to do.
Of course, I wandered into the kitchen! Looking through my cabinets at all the ingredients, I wondered what it would taste like if I threw a bunch of them together … and ‘BAM’ … the “Brookie” was born.
My family always looks forward to me making this dessert … almost as much as some of my co-workers do. When I do bring them in to work, it is usually per the request of the same specific person (and she hides them from everyone else)!
I hope you enjoy your very own “Brookies”
- 1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup , very soft)
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup & 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 18.9 ounce box of brownie mix (plus the eggs, oil & water as directed on the brownie mix box).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the brownie ingredients as the box states and pour into cake pan. (I use glass.)
Mix all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl. When completely mixed, use a tablespoon to just drop the cookie mix on top of the brownie mix. Do not spread … only drop and leave as it falls.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.
Published January 17th
Respite Stay blog from our Move-In Coordinator, Shannon Young
Hello and Happy New Year!
Those of you who care for loved ones with physical, mental or special needs are often the caregivers that overlook your own personal health and wellness. Now that the Holidays are over, it is a perfect time to allow yourself a much-needed break or “Respite”. Respite is described as a short period of ‘rest or release’ from something difficult. Being a primary caregiver to a loved one, while trying to keep them in their home environment, can add a great deal of pressure to your life, often leading to depression and/or isolation. Maintaining your own personal and social life is extremely important and can reduce the amount of stress that you, as a caregiver, may be feeling.
Being a family caregiver is a rewarding, yet demanding role. You have all heard the old saying, “to provide the best care, we must first take care of ourselves”. With that being said, as a caregiver, you should never feel guilty for needing a break from your duties. Whether it be a weekend away to relax and unwind or a month to take care of the many personal tasks that you often put off while caring for your loved one. Caregivers often return from a break with a renewed energy and outlook. A Respite Stay can be beneficial to your loved one as well. When they are getting the care they need, while giving you a break, the result can be a more enjoyable time together. A Respite Stay can also allow your loved one to adjust to someone else caring for them.
Here at Byron Health Center, we offer Respite Stays to assist you and your loved one when a break is needed. We provide skilled nursing care, meals, activities, programming and the daily assistance your loved one may need. If your loved one is living with one of the many forms of dementia and needs to stay in a memory-care neighborhood, we offer both male and female secured neighborhoods to keep them safe. We also offer a full range of engaging activities throughout the day that will allow your loved one to have fun while being socially active.
Additionally, what many do not realize is that some insurances cover respite services. Give me a call at 260-637-3166 ext. 225 to discuss the many options that Byron has to offer.
Published January 9th
Christmas Gift Angels Blog from our Director of Marketing & Public Relations, John Drebenstedt
Following the tradition started in the mid-1950s during the tenure of Superintendent Orville Miller of the then-named Allen County Home, we celebrated Christmas with our Christmas Gift Angel parties on December 19th & 20th.
2018 celebrated the 26th anniversary of the Byron Health Center Gift Angel program which was started as a way to personally recognize each and every Byron Health Center resident during the Christmas season. The Gift Angel program has become a popular way to make the “most wonderful time of the year” even more enjoyable for our residents, many of whom have no other family except for special friends or the Byron Health Center staff.
The Byron Health Center Gift Angel program reaches out to individuals, groups and organizations throughout the Fort Wayne community to help provide each of our residents with a personalized gift for the Holidays.
Throughout the fall, our residents were asked what they might want for Christmas. Using these “wish lists”, friends of Byron Health Center were invited to become Gift Angels by adopting a resident (or residents) and providing a Holiday gift for them.
There are too many groups, organizations, congregations, businesses, families and individuals that adopted residents in 2018 to mention them all individually. But, there were a select few who stood out by adopting a very large number of residents including Agape Church of the Brethren, Alpha Delta Omega Sorority, American Legion Riders Chapter 82, Centier Back, Covenant United Methodist Church, Cross Point Power & Refrigeration, DuCharme, McMillen & Associates, Eel River Elementary School, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, Goodwill Industries, Oak View Elementary School, Parkview Hospital Radiology, Pathway Community Church, Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Summit Consultants, United Methodist Women and University of Saint Francis Nursing Students. Generous donations from the Frank J Smith Endowment Fund and the Opportunities Fund of the Community Foundation of greater Fort Wayne also help fund the Holiday celebrations.
I would like to personally thank each and every one of our Christmas Gift Angels for the contribution that they made to the program this past Holiday season. All of our residents were adopted several times and received many wonderful gifts due to the generosity of our Christmas Gift Angels.
Thank you so much from the entire Byron Health Center team. All the best to you in this joyous New Year!
Published January 3rd
Kick Off Blog from our Executive Director, Sarah Starcher
Greetings and Happy 2019! With a new year, we have decided to kick off our Byron Blog. If you know a lot about Byron and our history, then you know how much fun we have and how much we love our residents. If you don’t know a lot about Byron, you should know that we love to have fun and we love our residents! But either way, we are starting this blog to share more about what we do, who we are as an organization and some education about the long-term-care industry and the different government regulations that we work within.
Ultimately, our aim is for the general public to learn more about why we do what we do, which is to provide an inclusive multi-generational community fostering purpose-filled lives by focusing on the individualized strengths of our family members. We have younger residents but we also have older residents. We have residents that have lived with us for almost 40 years and residents that moved in a month ago. We have residents that love to go out to the community each day and we have residents that like to stay in their room, enjoying watching TV. We want them to feel comfortable doing what it is that makes them happy and gives them purpose.
And throughout our blog posts you’ll also learn about our staff. We have the best staff, truly! Some team members have worked here for over 40 years and we even have a 20 Year Club because so many staff members work here for decades. We will highlight some different staff members and the work they do on a daily basis as well as what our residents mean to them.
We hope you’ll keep up with us and if you are ever in the neighborhood, stop by and say “Hi!”