A routine internal luncheon at Good Samaritan Society-Le Mars turned into a little more for Shirley Kinney.
She was surprised with the January Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Month honor. Members of her family attended the presentation, and she received flowers in her honor.
"Totally surprised," is how Kinney described the day.
Kinney began her 25-year nursing career with Good Samaritan Society-Le Mars as a certified nursing assistant, working parttime. While her children were young, she went back to college and obtained her registered nurse degree at St. Luke's School of Nursing in June 1994.
"I graduated from college 20 years after my high school graduation," Kinney said.
After becoming an RN, Kinney worked as the charge nurse on the floor, caring for the patients and dispensing medications, before moving into the minimum data set (MDS) coordinator position.
She also continues to work on call as a charge nurse when needed and generally helps out anywhere, the nomination stated.
As MDS coordinator, Kinney says her job now consists of doing care planning for all the center's residents.
"I'll meet with the family, find out what help is needed so the aides know how to take care of the resident," Kinney explained.
The position also means Kinney works Monday through Friday, no more nights and weekends.
"I do paperwork five days a week," Kinney said. "Fridays I try to get out on the floor and visit residents and staff."
In the care center setting, residents become like family.
"You get close to the residents and the families," Kinney said.
What keeps her coming to work each day?
"I just enjoy my job," Kinney said. "Sure it has its days, but I love it."
There have been many changes for Kinney through the years, in the job, and in the care center itself.
The latest additions and change at Good Samaritan Society-Le Mars now give the halls a community-style feel.
"There is more for staff members to do. But we also try to be consistent in staffing the same certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in each community, so they get to really know the residents," Kinney said.
The other big change is the amount of regulations that have been implemented over the years.
Kinney said HIPAA (the federal law regarding the privacy of health care information for individuals), has changed how she and staff members do some things.
"We transmit a lot of information to the state," Kinney said.
Detailed information on each resident is reviewed by state surveyors, to see that all rules and proper care are being followed.
"It's like one big family here," Kinney said. "If not for my co-workers, I don't know if I'd be here yet."
She says long-time employees make a difference, both for her and the residents.
Kinney doesn't stop her involvement at the center with her job.
The nomination notes Kinney is very active in center functions and rarely fails to be part of the planning or implement of events, such as Christian Needs Center drives at the center, helping staff when hardships or tragedy occurs, losses or blessings (such as babies, marriages, graduations, deaths).
"She is often first to jump in to offer assistance to those in need or assist with celebrating others' successes," the nomination stated.
Kinney and her husband, Jim, live near Oyens, where they are active in community activities. The Kinneys are members of the Oyens Ambulance crew.
Shirley is highly involved in many, many different events, fundraisers, etc., for her church, ambulance crew and civic organizations, according to the nomination.
"She is best-known for her crocheting and donating of elaborate pieces for fundraisers such as for Eagles, Legion, Good Samaritan's Holiday Giving Tree, and her church," the nomination continues.
Last year, Kinney crocheted the memory ornaments for the center's Christmas tree.
"Crocheting is my evening relaxation," Kinney said.
A 15-year co-worker of Kinney's stated, "Shirley is very knowledgeable in her role as the MDS coordinator. I appreciate her guidance in this field and also her community work. She is a very giving person and that is evident with the residents and her family."
Jim and Shirley are the parents of six children, Cissy, Theresa, Jason, Kelly, Mark and Jimmy, and have nine grandchildren: Laura, 18, Aaron, 14, Amari, 12, Aman, 11, Logan, 11, Alex, 12, Arik, 7, Adam, 6 and Aspyn, 1. They started the New Year with the news that another grandchild is on the way.