2018 Nominees Section
Organization: Alliance Senior Living and Paradise Home & Garden
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Josie Teehanke is a Registered Nurse who is also an RCFE Administrator who owns and works in 7 residential care homes in Orange County, opening her first one in 2007. As a young child, Josie went to work with her father, Dr. Virgillo Gonzales- a retired endocrinologist, where she gained a love and understanding of the power of healing and how with proper treatment one can heal the ailments that many suffer from. Josie received her Bachelors of Nursing degree in 1990 and practiced in Cleveland, OH, La Palma Hospital, Fountain Valley Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. During this time, she learned about dementia and the importance of activities for the elderly. She is not only actively tending to the needs of her residents, she has 3 other nurses on her staff as well; one of who is her son age 22 and beginning in the family business of Residential Care for the Elderly. Josie’s daughter is attending the Nursing program at Standridge University and will graduate soon, joining her family in the journey. They provide three shifts of trained care staff in each home, in addition to the Nurse oversite. Between them, they provide hands-on care for 42 residents. The homes are not only clean but organized to truly be resident friendly.
Why should this person be nominated
When I first met Josie I was looking for a residential care home for a client. It was a challenging situation but she more than met expectations, so when a client of ours, “Bill,” an 85 year needed a miracle, we contacted Josie. Bill was a healthy, active man who had emergency surgery on his esophagus which resulted in the need for a feeding tube. This was a big shock to him and the family, there was no earlier signs of this situation and it was not being well accepted. Prior to this he was the primary care giver for his wife with Alzheimer’s. She was the main focus of his attention and activities. Just days prior to the surgery he was golfing with his buddies. But in his current state he was unable to enjoy life as he knew it, no more enjoyment going out to dinner with friends or sharing a nice meal with his family. He was also unable to speak after this surgery and this made things even more difficult.
Nonetheless, when this happened, the doctors had said that this was going to be a long-term situation and offered him care through hospice. He decided not go to rehab from the hospital instead he went home. His daughters came to his aid to help with their mom and also to help dad with his feedings, etc. Well, this did not last even one day when he became totally depressed and lost his will to live. This was devastating for the daughters and they did not know what to do…but Josie did!
When I reached out to her, she told us of a few successes she had with others in this condition including how she has successfully helped a man get rid of this G-Tube and return to eating. She met with the family and explained how she could help and what to expect. They became excited to tell their dad about this. She met Bill at the rehab and explained to him her goals to help him regain his ability to eat again. He was in disbelief but willing to try. She told him he would need to work really hard and do all the things she would tell him including exercises for his esophagus, etc. He moved into her care home and began on the protocol for recovery. This began mid-February. He went from apathy to action and was eager to get his recovery going as fast as possible, because Josie gave him and his family HOPE!
I received this email from his daughter a few months later:
“Almost forgot to share our great news with you! Dad successfully passed his swallow test on May 17th. It is unfolding just as Josie laid out. He is now taking all nutrition by mouth - everything puréed. Medication and water still by g tube. Josie predicts he may be going to his own house by September with some level of support/care to be determined at that time. His attitude and level of engagement is great. His personality and sense of humor is back. He welcomes and is engaged with his friends that visit and he has his laptop and is on email!”
Two weeks after receiving the email, I saw Bill at Josie’s eating lunch with the rest of the residents. I was able to have a conversation with him as he regained his ability to talk. He told me he was recovering quite well and grateful for Josie and her staff. He looked so good and was very excited about going home in a few more weeks.
This is not a typical experience at a residential care home. Usually the conditions are accepted, serviced and the resident just “lives” with it. This home and this administrator/nurse is different in so many ways. She welcomes all sorts of medical conditions because she knows how to treat them and help the person individually through the experience. What makes Josie a Senior Care Hero to me is the “above and beyond” way that she takes in residents with non-common health issues, helping them in a holistic way.
For taking this and many other challenging situations on, Josie is a hero to me and to her residents and families.