At this point in Anna Hodge’s career, she has lent her skills and energy to “a little bit of everything” within the senior health care field—such as restorative care, concierge, admissions, and working on the floor as a CNA—and she likes it that way. Now she currently works in the medical records department of Magnolia Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Sarasota, Florida, and no matter the niche she lands in, she knows she’s in the right field.
“I wasn’t sure I could make it when I first came into this industry, but once I got here, I just fell in love with it,” she said. “You just have to have that personality, and be a people person. If it’s in your heart, you can make it. If it’s not, then you won’t make it and you shouldn’t be here, and the residents will be able to tell.”
She cites the five Consulate core values as a litmus test to discover whether or not the senior health care field is right for you. “If you’re not in here for these core values, it means your heart is not in this job. You need to be in here because you want to be here—not just for a paycheck.”
Yet compassion for the residents doesn’t always come without a price. “I try not to get too attached, but it’s hard,” she said. “On my office wall, I have all my residents who have passed. It is hard, because you get really attached to them, and you say ‘good morning’ to them every morning, or go outside and play cards with them everyday. . . Especially the long-term residents. It’s hard to walk past their rooms. You miss them, knowing that they’re gone. Sometimes the family members [of those who have passed] still come back and check on [the staff] they were close with, even around Christmas, they’ll bring little gifts to people here.”
Hodge praised the longevity of Magnolia’s staff—a true testament to the care center’s atmosphere. “It’s like a big family here, between residents and employees. . . A lot of these employees have been here for 25 years now. Everyone’s willing to help. . . I’ve had many other job offers, but I’m not willing to leave Magnolia. I can’t leave Magnolia,” she said.
Hodge gushed over her team at Magnolia, but specified one person in particular: “Kenya Rhodes goes above and beyond. She taught me admissions. She really helped me grow, from being on the floor as a CNA to now being in the admin. department. That’s a big change. . . She helped me build up my confidence—being able to speak on the phone with the family members and doctors without stuttering, and now I’m comfortable with it. She’s younger than me, but she’s done a lot. She’s now a care liason.”
Fortunately, this admiration isn’t a one-way street for Hodge. Angela Willis of the DCS department at Magnolia nominated Hodge for this recognition. She said: “Anna has an enormous heart and a ton of passion for her job and the residents at Magnolia. I get compliments about her daily. I have never met someone so eager and with the willingness to help and teach others. Her passion and love for her job is contagious.”
To Hodge, compassion is comprised of all the little things that help others through, day by day. Going above and beyond—one smile, fulfilled promise, loving nickname—at a time. A resident recently told her: “Your smile brightens up my day. . . It’s people like you who make me want to stay here.”
Though she spends much of her time with a primarily older population, Hodge is creating a legacy in the process—handing down her passion to her children, ages eight and ten. “Sometimes my kids hang out with the residents in the activity room. The residents love my kids. My daughter helps with bingo, she helps pass out napkins, or just interacts with the residents. They really like it, especially my daughter. She’s just like me.”