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The nursing staff thanks LPN, caregiver at home and at work

Well-known in Waukon, Iowa, nurse Kayla Rowan, LPN, walks through her shift filled with familiar faces at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home.

“It’s a local. Everyone knows their family, knows them,” says Lori Johnson, the Society’s director of nursing at the long-term care center. “Residents, families tell me they never worry about their loved ones when Kayla is working.”

Feeling drawn to healthcare four years ago, the 32-year-old quit a career in business, started as the company’s CNA and recently landed her way to the LPN.

“Most (residents) no longer have options to be able to be at home. So this is their house. I love being able to be a part of their life,” says Rowan, who grew up on a nearby dairy farm.

She is no stranger to hard work. His parents ran the farm and had full-time jobs on the side. Rowan’s boss Johnson says the carer’s efforts are second to none.

“She’s the best of the best,” Johnson says. “She’s been in the kitchen before. She did the housework. If you asked her to go mow the lawn, she would come out and mow the lawn.

“She really genuinely cares about everyone and their well-being, no matter what hers is in the background.”

“Everything has changed” after tragic news

Moving up the nursing ladder, Rowan began pursuing his RN in 2021. Unfortunately, tragic news put the pursuit on hold.

“I started my RN year last year. I took my first class and then my mum was diagnosed with cancer,” says Rowan.

“Not even three days later, everything changed. They found he had metastasized and moved from stage one to stage four.

A driving force in his life, Rowan’s mother, Pam, was dealing with terminal lung cancer.

“God probably gave me this option of being in health care so I could take care of her,” Rowan says.

There would be more family members to support.

“She was diagnosed in March and not even three weeks later my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer.”

After four surgeries, her husband Eric is now in remission. Between them, the couple has five children.

Sadly, Rowan lost his mother, a proud grandmother, four months after the diagnosis in 2021. Pam was 65.

“Losing my mum was tragic. Even knowing they’re going to leave doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, I struggle more now than I did a year ago,” Rowan says.

“It helps to have the colleagues and my management team who had the empathy to help me through this ordeal.”

Residents appreciate the care

During all of this, Rowan still found time to participate in the nursing home.

“I don’t know how she balances that, but she knows she’s supported. She knows she’s family here. The locals love it. The staff love it. The greatest gift is simply to have this family atmosphere here. Sanford and GSS bring that,” says Johnson.

Resident Ronald Vanderohe refers to Rowan as “a hard-to-beat top girl”.

“When you have a problem, you like it taken care of. She can do it,” Vanderohe says, nodding.

Rowan even showed up on a day off to evacuate one wing of the building when a routine inspection revealed structural damage.

“She was here within 20 minutes of my SOS call and said what can I do to help?” said Johnson. “We couldn’t be luckier to have him.”

Win the DAISY Award

This is why she is honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

“This is Kayla’s time, and she deserves to shine. She’s the light of God,” Johnson says. “Her calling is really about caring and that’s what she does.”

Getting the award was overwhelming.

“Ha, well I cried,” Rowan said. “There are other people who deserve it too. My colleagues are great here and I couldn’t do what I do here if it wasn’t for our team here.

Johnson adds, “She puts everything into her day, no matter what. Every person counts no matter what.

“I think she’s going to come a long way in her nursing career. I really do. His care and compassion will move everything else forward.

Grow in service to others.

“We’re all put here to do something that’s going to impact someone else,” Rowan says. “I’m grateful (for the award) because it pushes me to improve.”

Already extraordinary, Rowan plans to become a registered nurse in 2023.

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Posted in Awards and Recognition, Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, Services for Seniors

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