Sheila O’Brien is celebrating her 40th year in nursing in style, earning a well-deserved nomination for a Health Care Achievement award from the Rochester Business Journal.
Leigh Koflanovich met O’Brien eight years when she was a student nurse engaged in her clinical work on the floor at St. John’s Home. At that time, O’Brien was working as nurse manager of a 40-bed, long-term care floor. When Koflanovich became a licensed nurse, she had the good fortune of beginning her career on that same floor. She acknowledges that the many hours she spent working alongside O’Brien helped shape her into the person and professional she is today.
“When I think back on the best advice she has given me, I realize it is good advice no matter what career you have,” Koflanovich says. “With her as my mentor, I learned how to be patient with difficult family members, proper techniques for hand washing, how a simple hug can cheer up a person’s day, and the importance of a beautifully written thank you card. Not only are these things nice things to do, but they should be worked into our lives more regularly.”
At St. John’s Home, O’Brien is a member of a team that strives to offer solutions to meet the needs of each of its residents. Located on an eight-acre campus adjacent to historic Highland Park in Rochester, St. John’s Home serves more than 450 residents, providing round-the-clock skilled nursing care and assistance with activities of daily living. The organization prides itself on providing a wide variety of services on its campus that are tailored to the individual needs of residents.
O’Brien, 61, loves being part of a professional team that provides care to these hundreds of residents. Those who work closely with O’Brien describe her as a good friend who can be counted on at all times to be caring, generous, helpful, thoughtful, and wise. “Every word describes her perfectly,” Koflanovich says, adding that her longtime mentor has an important ability to pay attention to the small details that can enhance the experience of a resident at St. John’s Home.
O’Brien, who lives in Irondequoit, the same town in which she was raised, hasn’t changed jobs for nearly 20 years, a sign of the contentment she feels with her work.
“My favorite part of my job is building relationships with residents, families, and staff members, which allows them to enjoy every moment of every day,” she says. “Our residents come to St. John’s to continue living their lives to the fullest.”