Caregiver champion breaks into song after surprise honor

Patience Russell couldn’t help but sing sweetly when Good Samaritan Society leaders surprised the CNA with the National Ever Forward Caregiver Award. 

The 58-year-old, who came to the United States from Liberia in 1998, broke out a favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” while admitting this recognition is a first.

“It’s kind of shocking because I’ve worked here for 25 years almost. I’ve never had my name on a plaque to say, ‘Patience is a good worker,’” Patience says with tears in her eyes.

A revelation all around if you spend time with the nursing assistant and witness how essential she is to her residents and teammates at Good Samaritan Society - Ambassador in New Hope, Minnesota.

“Patience lives out the mission of the Good Samaritan Society every day in her work,” says Kim Stoltzman, Society director of nursing. “She has a calling to be here. She has such enthusiasm for what she does.

“She consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that her residents feel individual care from her.”

Patience 'brings calm to the unit'

Arriving at 6 a.m. daily, Patience hits the floor at the long-term care center.

Resident Bea Klatke, 87, says, “She’s very good and she cares a lot about what she’s doing. Patience is a good name for her because she’s patient.”

In between getting residents ready for the day, you will often hear Patience singing or laughing with those nearby.

“Our Patience is so well known around here,” resident Connie Mohs jokes. “We love her laugh first of all. She’s so cheery. She peps everybody up.”
Society nursing supervisor Anne Hussong says Patience has the power to change the atmosphere in her part of the nursing home.

“It can make a real stressful day much better with her laughter,” says Anne, who nominated Patience for the award. “She just brings a calm to the unit.”

Bringing a positive persona is just part of what makes her a special caregiver.

“It’s really simple to say the CNA role does all the basic cares,” says Anna Minske, Society administrator. “When you have a really good CNA, like Patience is, they care about the spirituality of the resident. They care about emotional well-being and showing love and affection.”

“That is what makes a good CNA and that is what Patience is.”

Patience says, “I love the people I work with. Being a caregiver is not just for you to do things for people. You go there with your heart, passion. It’s beyond doing stuff for people.”

'You ask God to direct you'

Nearly 25 years into her health care career, Patience is where she’s meant to be. When she arrived in America ahead of her husband Isaac, she quickly began serving at the Society.

“This was my first job, and this is my last job since I came from Africa. I never went to any (other) building to apply or whatsoever,” Patience says proudly.

“The Good Samaritan Society is a good place to work to be frank with you.”

While it’s not easy to show up for those in need of an extra hand, Patience credits her faith for the strength she finds each day.

“You ask God to direct you because you cannot do it all by yourself. That’s the first thing I do before coming into the building,” Patience says.

A mother of three and a grandma, Patience is also thankful for an organization that’s come through for her on difficult days.

Four years ago, her husband Isaac died unexpectedly.

“My teammates rallied around me when that happened. Most of them were there for me when I came to work,” Patience says.

“It hurts to see him go but sometimes God takes the good ones.”

The couple had been married for 40 years.

“She’s a strong-willed woman,” Kim says. “We all surrounded her with love and helped her through that difficult time.”

Getting back to her residents and fellow caregivers is still helping her heal to this day.

Patience points to their “prayers, that’s what got me going.”

'You can do more'

Honored to be the caregiver champion, Patience swiftly shares the award with her location.

“I did it because it’s my passion,” Patience says about her career choice.

She hopes others will be inspired to serve moving forward.

“It will show others that taking care of people is not all about coming and getting money. You can do more,” Patience says.

In addition to her work at the Society, Patience is the financial secretary for the Maryland Association of Minnesota. Through this association, Patience volunteers her time and money providing relief and assistance programs for people in Liberia.

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