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It does not take but a few moments to see Wanda Adams’ is special, has a passion for service and special voice. She also has a special calling for serving seniors, and many talents she generously shares, including singing and inspiring others with her positive attitude, often leading by example. She has been the director of housekeeping and laundry at St. Anthony Health Center since Oct. 2, 2006. She is dedicated to her community, including her staff, her co-workers and their “family of residents.” Almost everyone at St. Anthony has heard about Wanda’s lovely voice as she softly sings while she works or joins in a song for special occasions or events. She enjoys country, gospel and classical music and a wide array of artists but says with pride that she has learned to open her mind up to enjoy many other types of music. She recently attended a local rap concert – and realized it is just another creative way to share a message with a younger audience.
Wanda previously worked in a secured unit at Concordia Care Center for 12 years, which was closed due to the economy, and was looking for a new opportunity in long-term care. She started in the health care industry as a dietary aid in 1988. Once she toured St. Anthony Health Center, she knew that it was a place that could use her expertise and she could immediately contribute to the team and residents, and do what she loves most, serving seniors. “Everyone needs someone, and someday when I am older and need help, I want someone to care for me,” said Wanda. “I saw the community needed some improvements, but had great potential.”
Her first position was focused on housekeeping for the Garden Court memory care community, but then shifted to housekeeping and laundry management duties for St. Anthony Health Center.
She starts most every shift by taking a quick walk through the building to check on the special needs of residents, and say good morning to her staff on duty, and co-workers she sees. Wanda has a love for life, and the resident’s look forward to seeing her and enjoy her positive presence. “Wanda is so giving that she does not fully realize the wonderful impact her singing and caring has on resident’s lives,” said William Huseonica, a senior manager at St. Anthony Health Center. “She is a very special, uplifting person that sets a positive tone for all she meets.”
Maintaining a good attitude, she says, is key. You can’t bring your troubles to work and bring everyone else down. She is quick to jump in and do whatever is needed when they need staffing help, to ensure housekeeping and laundry quality are done the way it should be done.
She enjoys training others and takes great pride in the work her department has done to enhance the community’s overall quality scores and can rely on one another for support and insights to continue to improve. She can also be firm when needed and sets high expectations so they all achieve their goals. I want my team to be able to do everything I do. She coaches housekeepers on how to clean a room, by having them focus not just on the center, but want them to clean full circle, from wall to wall which needs cleaning and attention.
Wanda is also very spiritual. A country girl at heart, she grew up in Arkansas and was involved in her church and sang in the choir. She has seen that music is beneficial to everyone. It keeps her centered and calm. It helps calm residents and employees going through any struggles in their lives. It has benefited her life, and she has seen its help residents, especially those in memory care, those that are passing, and believes in the power of music therapy. They have often set up a music box in the resident’s room to bring comfort. She says music is deep inside them and they have fond memories of their favorite songs. She describes her special ability to tap into people’s emotions and can learn about a resident’s needs just by observing them.
Wanda lends her voice for support when the Chaplain comes to visit a resident and they are singing. Or if a resident is listening to music and loves a certain song, her singing helps reassure them and brightens their day. She says she taps into their spirituality.
She grew up being very close with her grandparents, so she is very good with senior residents who are very particular. She said music provides a great common bond. She generously shares her wisdom and compassion with those that work with her and her three daughters and eight grandchildren.
Wanda notes, “I’m fixing to rock my home,” as she gets energized to head out on quick rounds to check in with her staff and review their progress. She feels that many of her co-workers and residents also have many talents to share. She would love to plan a talent show at the community. I’m sure with all of Wanda’s fans; there would be a great turn-out.