JAA CNA Chosen for Statewide Award

October 19, 2020

JAA and Sivitz Hospice are thrilled  to announce that our own Rickie Dell has been chosen by the Pennsylvania Homecare Association  and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging  as the  2020 winner of the Direct Care Worker of the Year Award.  

We think Rickie’s nomination says it all:

Rickie Dell always shows love and compassion for all of the patients for whom she lovingly cares.  Rickie has six children and every one of her patients is treated just like another member of Rickie’s large family.  Rickie always tries to meet every one of her patient’s special requests or needs and it is not uncommon for Rickie to stop off at the store on the way to a patient’s home to pick up something they need in a hurry, like a pill crusher. She is the first person to take on an extra assignment, even over the weekends, or evenings, or will volunteer to work with a patient who is very resistant to personal care.  We had a patient this year who only wanted evening and weekend showers since that was his schedule at home.  Although Rickie is typically done early in the day, she made it a point to come back to work after her day had ended to shower this patient and keep his life as consistent as possible during his decline, and was able to give his family peace of mind that his needs were all being met.

Rickie’s work ethic is outstanding.  She often puts her own family’s needs on the back burner to make sure her patient’s needs are being met as well. Patients’ schedules are often irregular due to situations beyond their control. Rickie shows tremendous flexibility in her ability to get the job done.  Rickie sees patients in the evening and weekends to make things easier for her patients and families, even though her schedule is weekdays during the day.  She knows how much her families and patients rely on her services and will do whatever she can to fulfill their needs.  Rickie recently has had car issues and went above and beyond what would have been expected for her to keep seeing patients.  At one point this year,  her car  broke down at a patient’s home and although it was a huge inconvenience to her, she continued to get to work the day. She will do whatever she needs to do to ensure that her responsibilities are met.

In caring for a hospice patient, the certified nursing assistant (CNA) must be aware of the additional set of challenges that the patient often presents.  Rickie is an integral part of our hospice team. The RN case managers understand that her intimate knowledge of the patients’ physical condition is of critical importance in providing outstanding care and often is she the first to note changes in her patients. She will call the nurse and the office to let everyone know if she sees a decline and alerts all to check in immediately.  Rickie does not hesitate to report any changes in the patients’ condition and she is well aware of the conditions that warrant immediate attention. In addition, families have consistently shared positive feedback concerning the manner in which Rickie provides care. They have reported that she is extremely competent in providing gentle care, leaving the patient feeling comfortable and safe in a time when the patient is most vulnerable.  

Rickie has been a CNA at JAA  for 14 years and is in her  third year in the hospice department.  Even after 14 years, Rickie is still looking for ways to better herself as an aide and person. Every time she is in the office, she asks if she can she do anything to help or anything she could have done differently. She always talks to co-workers about ways in which to improve her skillset. In addition to taking her required on-going education courses, Rickie goes above and beyond joining in with the offered lunch-and-learn and other educational opportunities within the organization. She knows that each patient and circumstance is very different and is always looking for ways to individualize his or her care. During our hospice interdisciplinary meeting, it is not uncommon to hear Rickie ask questions pertaining to her patients and the care that she provides.

Patients and their families have often commented on how Rickie’s visit is the highlight of their day.  She has a curiosity about their lives and is also willing to share just enough about hers to be a source of entertainment.  We constantly hear how wonderful and funny Rickie is.  She can make even a patient who typically is not welcome to visitors break down and giggle and openly welcome her. Our office just received a card talking about how essential Rickie was in the care of a patient.  His wife was so impressed that Rickie would do whatever he wanted and felt comfortable with while still doing her duties. The patient often didn’t feel as though he was being listened to and Rickie would sit and talk about whatever he wanted.  Talking and listening seems like such an easy and simple thing to do but this man was feeling alone. Rickie became a friend to him.

As a hospice team, it is essential that the members work well together to provide care for the patient.  Rickie goes beyond the call of duty in providing support for her co-workers. From the simplest of tasks, like helping to carry supplies out to a co-workers car, to covering for vacation or sick days, Rickie is willing and able. She is quick to offer help and never complains about the workload. She was recognized for the quality of her work, her dedication to providing compassionate care and her commitment to the mission of Sivitz Hospice.  Rickie takes her responsibilities seriously and inspires each of her co-workers to do the same. Rickie is gifted with the ability to use humor and a lightheartedness to bring levity to an environment that can be highly stressful.  Rickie checks in with the office and staff daily to see if we need anything and brings her smile and humor into the office. She assists with student education if needed and will accept anything asked of her.

One story that stands out is our office was caring for an elderly Jewish woman who lived with her sister who was also in very poor health.  They had mentioned how upset they were that they could not always follow their Kosher diets anymore as they were unable to get out like they wanted and shop.  Rickie would consistently stop at the Jewish Deli and bring them their favorites like beets and challah bread.  They could not be more thankful for her acts of kindness.

Needless to say, Rickie is well-deserving of this award and we are proud to have her with us during her longstanding service to JAA and Sivitz Hospice.