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CareOne’s Positive Work Environment Fuels Long Tenure

At CareOne, we pride ourselves in delivering the most exceptional standard of care to our patients and residents and fostering a work environment that’s positive and nurturing. And at the heart of that care is our employees. “Our staff work tirelessly to treat your family like their own and provide the highest level of support possible,” said Emily Vasquez, VP of Special Operations. “They are core to the work we do, and we are proud to offer them a second home where they can build their careers.”

We recently sat down with four incredible employees from our Cresskill location. Each of these women has reached a milestone of working 35 (or more!) years at CareOne. We are so grateful to them for their service, and wanted to share their journey with you as we celebrate and thank them for all that they do.

Ilyse, our RN/unit manager, will celebrate 35 years with us this July. Marcia has been a laundry aide with CareOne for 38 years. Barbara, a CNA, will celebrate 40 years with us this September, and Margery, another CNA, will celebrate 51 years with us this August!

Q: Tell us about your career journey at CareOne. How did you hear about us?

ILYSE – I live about 10 minutes away from Cresskill, so I was aware of the facility and the community. I had left Columbia Presbyterian about a year before joining CareOne and was looking for more of a community job at the time. I went in for an interview with CareOne and never left! I started as a staff nurse on night shifts and eventually became a night shift supervisor. After 17 years on night shift, I switched to days, and within a week, became the unit manager!

MARCIA – I started as a laundry aide in March of 1985. I saw an ad in the paper and a friend of mine was a supervisor at CareOne at the time. She was the one who recommended me and I’ve been here ever since! I love working with the company. I have great coworkers and management has always been beautiful to me. I love my job.

BARBARA – I am originally from Jamaica and came to this country in 1981. I was working somewhere else at the time, but a friend of my mother was working here and referred me to CareOne. They gave me the job as a CNA, and I’ve been here ever since September 1983! My journey has been wonderful because I love my job, and I really enjoy taking care of people.

MARGERY – I came to the US from Jamaica, initially to go to school in Chicago, but at that time, I didn’t have enough money. I was visiting a friend in Englewood, NJ, and drove by the Dunroven Health Care Center, which later became CareOne at Cresskill. I walked right in and asked if I could have a job. The administrator gave me an application and I called them the next day. I started working in 1972, and once CareOne took over, I never left!

Q: What do you love about CareOne?

ILYSE – I love the staff! And patient care – it has changed a lot over the years, becoming more sub-acute, meaning working with more complicated medical conditions, which is an exciting challenge to me.

MARCIA – Everything! No complaints at all, none whatsoever.

BARBARA – CareOne is like a family, and there’s great teamwork. We’re not strangers or coworkers; it’s a family setting and I like that. They are always so great; I could never go somewhere else.

MARGERY – I’ve always said that if you don’t like what you’re doing, you shouldn’t work there. I love my job; I enjoy every minute of it. I have a lot of fun! Even when I reach 100, if I am healthy, I’ll still be working. I enjoy helping people who can’t do it themselves. I feel like if I can help you, trust me, I will. Even if they’re not my patient, I will go out of my way to help.

Q: Tell me about the people you work with.

ILYSE – I love the staff I work with, I always have. There have been many people that have come and gone, but there are always great people to work with.

MARCIA – They are very nice, polite people. We are team players, and we have to work together!

BARBARA – It’s all about teamwork. We make it a team effort and work together. Chatting and laughing together makes for a great time.

MARGERY – The people I work with are very, very good people. We get along well; I try to get along with everyone and help everyone. We go to Broadway shows and dinners, we have wonderful times. We need one another to work together. I still even talk to people who I used to work with that moved away.

Q: Why have you stayed with CareOne for so long?

ILYSE – I love working with people and the challenges of the nursing profession, as well as the learning and education involved.

MARCIA – I just love everybody! It’s just a love fest! When I have a few minutes, I’ll sit and have conversations with the residents. I treat them like they’re my parents or grandparents – with respect. When I get older, I might be in the same boat and will need people to take care of me. You have to give them respect and dignity.

BARBARA – I really like the work. It makes me feel really independent. It makes me feel good to take care of someone and help them feel better to go home. I know I’ll have to retire at some point but I’m going to miss it, too.

MARGERY – I enjoy working, especially with older people. I treat everyone in that building as if they’re my parents or grandparents (or my brother and sister). I give them whatever they want and never say no. The residents will even ask, “Is Margery here today?” It feels good to be needed and good to be appreciated. It keeps me going.

Q: What does your day-to-day job look like?

ILYSE – Right now, my title is unit manager, but it touches the entire building. I am responsible for the clinical conditions of all the patients, interacting with all the staff, and approaching everything as a team.

MARCIA – I am here from 6:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. As soon as I punch in, I get started with the linens; separating linens, going upstairs to bring clothes down, folding up the linen carts, and I just keep going! I take a break at 9:00 a.m., have lunch at noon, and at 2:00 p.m., I clock out to go home.

BARBARA – When I start in the morning, I feed the patients, bathe them and make them comfortable. I get them ready for therapy or dialysis and ensure they are comfortable and happy as best as I can. For those who are terminal, we take care of them for as long as we can and be there for them.

MARGERY – I have a certain number of patients I take care of – sometimes 8, sometimes 10. I take care of them and get them whatever they need. When I put them to bed, I walk down the hall every five minutes to make sure no one gets out of bed and falls. I make sure no one falls on my watch!

Q: Is there a specific patient or relationship you’ve had that stuck with you and meant a lot to you that you can share?

BARBARA – Years ago, we had this patient, Agnes, who was such a nice lady. She didn’t like to go to bed early so we kept her in the day room with us and she would help us fold towels. She loved to dance so we would dance and exercise all together. We gave her what we could to make her feel at home. At one point, she was supposed to go but she didn’t want to go. I will always remember her.

ILYSE – There are many. Right now, we’ve been taking care of patients with a LVAD (Left Ventricular Assistive Device), which is a very specialized form of care for complex or end-stage cardiac patients. I have a long-term LVAD patient here and taking care of them has been very meaningful.

MARGERY – It’s hard to say specifically because I love to help them all. Some take my number when they leave to call me. Once, I had a patient who never wanted to get out of bed. I told him, “You need to get out of bed and let the blood flow through your body so you get well and go home!” He called me his sergeant. On the day he left, he told the front desk that he needed to say goodbye to his sergeant. I met his wife and she told me that every morning, he would sit up in bed and say, “I wonder when my sergeant will come in today” and thanked me for encouraging him to get up, get well and go home. I told him I would miss him.

MARCIA – That’s hard to say, I have had great relationships across the board with residents and colleagues!

Q: Are you proud of what you do?

ILYSE – Absolutely! I feel that it makes a big difference.

MARCIA – Yes, I am!

BARBARA – I am. I like that when I leave here each day, I feel that I did a good job. I’m not perfect, but I do my best. CareOne first sent me to get my CNA license, and when I passed the test and got my certificate, I was very, very happy.

MARGERY – Oh yes, I am proud of what I do! I love what I do, it’s mine. I enjoy every moment of it. Sometimes it’s hard, but I take a deep breath and do what I have to do to get it done. Always be kind and say, “Can I help you?”

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment from your time at CareOne?

ILYSE – I’m proud of how we came out the other side from the challenges of COVID. Having stuck with it during the worst of times, it is satisfying that things are finally getting better.

MARCIA – When they surprised me with “employee of the month” about 15-20 years ago. I wasn’t expecting that, and they surprised me in the dining room. When they called my name out, I started crying! They had a plaque for me. About 3-4 years ago, I got another recognition for being in service for so many years.

BARBARA – I’ve learnt so much about aging working at CareOne. It gave me strength when my parents passed away. I am more able to accept it and was very proud of myself for that. CareOne helped me grow and become an independent person by meeting different people of different cultures. Between patients and coworkers, there are many! Through my work, I was able to buy a house and I feel really good about myself. I love it here, I really do.

MARGERY – I bought my home from it! You see this job? Everything I own comes from it.

Thank you, Ilyse, Marcia, Barbara, and Margery, for your service and your commitment to our patients and residents. We appreciate all that you do!