Linda Woolridge, Director of Nursing (DON) at Heritage Healthcare Center at Tallahassee, has worn many different hats, shifting from various positions like a queen on a chess board.
For the past 17 years, she has worked on and off in various Consulate Health Care centers, stemming back from before Consulate even became “Consulate.”
She started her career as a weekend nurse at the care center now known as Consulate Health Care of Safety Harbor. From there, she moved to CHC of Bayonet Point, then to Springhill Health and Rehabilitation Center, and after that, left the field to teach for awhile. However, she confessed missing long-term care too much, and bounced back onto the scene and into her current role as DON at Heritage of Tallahassee in fall 2017.
Woolridge emphasized that she’s “proud to be a Consulate employee,” as Consulate has boosted her professional growth through career advancement programs, and afforded her valuable mentoring from more experienced staff members while she was first starting out, and even all the way up to her current role.
Along with Woolridge’s obviously strong work ethic, these opportunities from Consulate have pushed her to “level up” and blaze a successful career here.
In addition to personal career growth, Woolridge has both witnessed and contributed to major changes and improvements in the individual care centers, particularly Heritage at Tallahassee.
“Everyday I see an improvement—in the care we provide, in the structure of the building, in the way things are moving along… It’s neat to be a part of the journey of Heritage.”
She said in retrospect, the comparison between where they were—even just in October 2017 versus now, is “night and day.”
She admitted it was “such a struggle” when she first arrived, but overall, she said she has enjoyed the challenge. Fortunately, she hasn’t had to endure it alone: “I love my nursing team… I couldn’t ask for a better team. It’s been a journey getting the right people for the right jobs. I think it’s just the beginning. I have a lot to learn still. I learn everyday in this position.”
She plans to stay with Heritage at Tallahassee and feels eager to continue the progress they have achieved so far. Being a (relatively) new DON is “harder than it looks,” she admitted, but her efforts have clearly paid off.
We could hear the hope in her voice as she gushed about all the good that’s happening at Heritage Tallahassee.
“We’ve seen so many positive outcomes along the way. So many people have said that they’ll never get out of the facility… they’re bedridden, and then they walk out of the facility.”
While Woolridge understands the vitality of all of Consulate’s core values—compassion, honesty, integrity, passion—without any hesitation, she stated she’s a “firm believer in integrity,” and credited much of Heritage at Tallahassee’s success to the integrity she has worked so hard to uphold in herself, as well as in her staff at the care center.
“Integrity improves patient care. . . It means doing it right, each time. . . If you’re doing the right thing, you will have the rest of the values. If you set about and do everything you possibly can for patients, family members, the person off the street who asks for directions, regardless if someone’s watching you—then you’re going to show the other core values. If you’re doing the right thing each time, all the others fall in place.”
She explained that while utmost integrity is “standard,” she pushes herself and expects her fellow employees to “excel” beyond those standards everyday.
In the trend of many other exceptional CHIRP employees, Woolridge displayed a deeply ingrained sense of humility. When we requested a photo of herself to publish alongside this story, she sent back a group picture of her team. She said: “The reason Heritage has been so successful—so I then look successful—is the team we have. From the CNAs to the leadership.”
Featured in the photo is Woolridge’s clinical team support: Jaquan Newmones, RN, Unit 1 Manager, Bobbie Finch, RN, Assistant DON, Tasha Wilkerson, LPN, Unit 3 Manager, Nakesha Barnes, Activities Director, and Jeanna Hittinger, NHA, the Executive Director.”
Executive Director Jeanna Hittinger wrote that Woolridge “puts in a lot of hours to ensure quality of life for her residents,” and that Woolridge “has put together an awesome clinical team and has had a successful survey. . . [It’s] a difficult job that she takes on daily, [and she] is passionate about what she does.”
Woolridge’s advice for LPNs out there is this: “It’s never too late to reach for your goals.”
She joined the company when she was an LPN herself, and despite the arduous process to get there, she’s ultimately glad she earned her RN title and landed in the place she’s now.