STILL GOING STRONG AT 80
On the third floor of New Community’s Extended Care Center, one will find the woman everyone respectfully calls, “Ms. Ruby.” And she commands every ounce of it. After all, there aren’t many 80-year-olds around doing the work of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
Haynes, winner of NCC’s President’s Service Award, has worked at Extended Care for nearly 25 years and is the second oldest NCC employee after Madge Wilson, NCC Outreach Coordinator, who turns 81 this April.
After all these years, however, Haynes still cares for the residents on her floor at Extended Care with the utmost degree of professionalism, compassion and concern.
“They are my extended family,” said Haynes. “I always tell them, ‘I love you,’ and they say, ‘God bless you and I love you too.’”
As a Certified Nursing Assistant, Haynes provides basic patient care under the direction of nursing staff. She travels from room to room, performing duties like feeding, bathing, dressing and grooming residents, in addition to tasks like changing bed linens.
Resident Mary Melvin called Ms. Ruby a “doll baby.” Melvin, 57, has been at Extended Care since suffering a stroke in January 2012.
Melvin was unable to speak or do anything for herself when she initially was admitted, but after months of on-site therapy with Kessler, the Extended Care facility’s rehab provider, she has made steady progress.
“Ms. Ruby is a lovely woman and also very considerate. She’s concerned about the residents and takes her time with them,” Melvin said, as Ms. Ruby massaged some lotion into the skin on her left arm.
Haynes came to Newark in 1989 from Guyana, South America, where she completed her nursing training at Public Hospital in Georgetown. A friend told her about an opening at Extended Care and she has been with New Community ever since, working the same 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. When she is taking care of patients, Haynes always keeps in mind the way she would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
“I go in with a smile, asking how they feel and how they spent their day,” said Haynes, who is married with two grown children.
Veronica Onwunaka, Director of Nursing at Extended Care, who has worked with Haynes for 22 of her nearly 25 years, called her an “exemplary employee” who is as punctual as they come. She said Haynes also has a special touch that always has a calming effect.
“Her age does not deter her from caring for any patient that needs her help, regardless of their condition or behavior,” Onwunaka said. “She is so dedicated and sets the tone for every young person who is working with her so that they are inspired by the way she carries herself and cares about people. I really cherish her so much, that I thank God she is still working. I wish I could clone her so we have another Ruby.”
On the occasion of her 80th birthday back in December, the staff threw Haynes a surprise birthday party in the first floor conference room.
Johnnie Graham, 59, another third floor resident, said if anyone deserved it, Haynes certainly did, describing her as the “best in the building.”
“She takes extra good care of me,” he said shortly after Haynes had helped him on a recent day with his morning routine. “She works so hard…she needs to slow down,” he added with a chuckle.