Life Care Centers of America
Heidi Pino, Life Care Public Relations

Jon Sundean, a registered nurse of 24 years, joined Life Care Center of Ooltewah, Tennessee, in August 2018 after working as a traveling nurse. He didn’t expect that he’d be doing traveling nursing again, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed that.

In spring 2020, Jon heard about the difficulties that nursing facilities were having with COVID, and he volunteered to help out in Life Care’s Central Division, which covers 34 centers in Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

Jaimie Corradini, division director of human resources, connected Jon with buildings that were experiencing outbreaks and could use an extra nurse.

“We were grateful for the help,” said Jaimie. “He came to us at a time when we were tremendously staffing challenged due to the extensive COVID outbreaks we were experiencing.”

Jon started at his first Central building on April 18, 2020. He spent two months there at Mitchell Manor in Mitchell, Indiana, assisting with care, especially on the COVID unit.

It was just the first of many. Jon served at 13 different Life Care facilities in the division, leaving his last one on May 30, 2021. He assisted Hammond-Whiting Care Center in Hammond, Indiana; Green Valley Care Center in New Albany, Indiana; Life Care Center of Brookfield, Missouri; Garden Terrace at Overland Park, Kansas; Northwood Hills Care Center in Humansville, Missouri; Life Care Center of Waynesville, Missouri; Life Care Center of Sullivan, Missouri; Life Care Center of Saint Louis; Life Care Center of Bridgeton, Missouri; Heritage Healthcare in West Lafayette, Indiana; Life Care Center of Osawatomie, Kansas; and Life Care Center of Rochester, Indiana.

“Jon worked in more than half of our facilities in his time with Central Division,” said Corradini. “He was willing to work many hours, which was helpful to give our own staff and nurse management some relief and even allowed them to have much-needed breaks from working the long hours that were necessary.”

Having been a certified nursing assistant before earning his RN, Jon not only served as a nurse but also put his CNA skills to good use.

“It was rewarding to me,” Jon shared about the experience. “I was there to take care of people. Patients got to recognize me over time, and the majority recovered and moved to another unit. For those who passed, a lot of times, I was the one to be there with them when the family couldn’t be there.”

Jon remembers one resident he cared for who had dementia whose supporting family lived in Germany. Jon coordinated with the daughter and made phone calls across many time zones so that mother and daughter could visit by phone. Although the resident passed away, the daughter thanked Jon for the chance to be able to talk to her mother and be updated on her condition and care.

At other buildings, it meant a lot to Jon to care for some of the rough-around-the-edges patients who eventually warmed up to him and would laugh and joke with him by the time he moved on.

“There were special moments and people at every facility,” Jon said. “I would like to thank everyone at the buildings where I worked. It truly was a team effort. When I traveled before, I was really nothing more than a hired hand. My Life Care experience was completely different. Everyone was super nice and glad I was there. There was a lot of mutual appreciation.”

In between buildings, Jon returned home to Tennessee and was able to spend time with his wife of 34 years. And now, he is glad to be back at home base again, though he shared he is glad he was able to assist during the past year.

“It can be intimidating to begin a new project or face a new and unknown chapter in your career,” Jon said. “But I am thankful that I had the opportunity to help my co-workers out during this difficult time and that I was able to be there for all of the very special residents I had the privilege of caring for. I was amazed every day by the teamwork and camaraderie among staff as we all worked together each day to take care of our residents. Hopefully, we were able to make a bad situation for them a little less gloomy and give them some peace of mind.”

Jon, from our residents and associates in the Central Division, we are glad you sacrificed your own comfort and stepped in to serve our most vulnerable! Thank you for being a COVID Champion!

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