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Long Term Care in 2022… One Director’s Story


By Julie Arndt

Like so many in long term care, Carletta Nesmith, was called to serve the elderly at a young age when she was “volunteered” for a senior outing at her mom’s place of work—a punishment of sorts at the time that led to her first job as a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.) as a teen. Little did she know then, she would work over a decade as a C.N.A. before securing her nursing degree, a career path that would eventually lead to her current position as Director of Nursing for a 94-unit Skilled Nursing Facility during a once in a life-time pandemic, all while studying to become a clinical nurse practitioner. Since 2015, Carletta has worked at Friendship Manor, a retirement community nestled in Rock Island. She brings a passion of excellence that makes those who work on her team want to come to work every day, want to be part of the lives of their precious residents, and embrace the families of those they serve.

COVID remains part of our lives as we glide into 2022 with many weary healthcare providers and record level clinical staff shortages; yet Friendship Manor appears to be turning the corner as it relates to such shortages. Administrator of Clinical Operations, Mark Leverenz, attributes this turnabout to several factors, but feels the Manor’s faith-based heritage allowing prayer with residents is part of the reason, coupled with the strong leadership of their Director of Nursing. He said, “Carletta offers the perfect mix of professionalism and clinical excellence. She loves the residents and the people she works with and she’s the real deal. She is just someone you want to be around.”

Nesmith said she reads inspirational books to stay focused at work and centered on her spiritual journey. “I work to serve Him and strive to grow in everything I do, even the smallest things. It’s simple…I just want to please Him.”  She added, “long term care is my heart. Here they become part of our family and for me, it’s about those relationships.”

So what about COVID?  In a soft voice, Nesmith responded, “COVID has been hard. Really hard. It’s draining, but with vaccinations and therapeutics, it’s not even close to the same situation that we were in last year, but the fear is still there.”  She added, “Patience and just being there to listen makes a big difference. In long term care you have time to build relationships, they (residents) trust you and their families become like family.”

No surprisingly, Carletta lit up when discussing her team, “I have an amazing staff and the very best Assistant Director of Nursing. Amber makes it easy.” She said four months ago their staffing was at a pinnacle level. “It was scary. I was truly worried about who would be here to care for our residents.”  She feels very thankful that this is not the case today. She feels right sizing the pay scale and having all the wonderful benefits of an employer like Friendship Manor has made the difference. Knowing that the staffing shortage remains a real threat to healthcare systems in general, she is thankful for the compassionate clinicians who work on her team. When asked about characteristics of a great team. She responded, “Compassion. Empathy. Customer Service. Caring. I try to model these behaviors and when someone does something good, you tell them.”  It’s very clear to anyone who knows Carletta Nesmith that she is truly the “real deal” and that she is “walking the talk” on her spiritual and professional journey. It’s inspirational stories such as this that may guide talented compassionate professionals back to the healthcare arena making a difference in the lives our so many!

Questions about Friendship Manor?  Call 309.786.9667 and ask for Marketing.