DeLena Stortz rebuilt her career in the aftermath of wreckage and disaster. Louisiana born and raised, Stortz was working as Director of Nursing (DON) at a major care center in her home state when Hurricane Katrina struck. In a single day, Stortz lost her house and her job.

In the aftermath, Stortz moved to North Carolina to stay with her sister. Fortunately, she connected with the DON at Hunter Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and was hired on as a RN unit manager. Stortz then advanced into the Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON) position, and eventually took over as DON.

In 2009, Stortz left Hunter Woods to travel as a regional nurse, covering buildings in North Carolina and Washington D.C. with Consulate (formerly known as Shoreline). In 2013, Stortz became Vice President of Clinical Services. Throughout her time in this role, she has reached out and assisted each and every single care center in the Consulate Health Care network!

Stortz naturally has a heart for compassionate TLC, and throughout her career, her patients’ ages have ranged widely. Before the hurricane uprooted her life, she said, “I was a DON of a large care facility with a large variety of patients and conditions—from infants all the way to geriatrics.”

Now Consulate’s Vice President of Clinical Services for the Mid-Atlantic region, Stortz’s heart to care still propels her to make a difference in residents’ lives. She said the residents motivate her each day. “I want us to be providing the best basic care that we can provide. Because it’s what they deserve. What keeps me going is knowing I’m making things better for them. . . I love the residents. I love being in the care center.”

She explained that in the daily grind of life, sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged and start to lose sight of your purpose. In these times, Stortz says: “I go down to the cafeteria and be with the residents, help feed them, etc., and it brings me back to why I do what I do.”

"What keeps me going is knowing I’m making things better for them. . . I love the residents. I love being in the care center. . . I go down to the cafeteria and be with the residents, help feed them, etc., and it brings me back to why I do what I do.”

Thankfully, the work environment at Consulate provides a supportive atmosphere for Stortz. “The team that I work with, they’re more than my colleagues—they’re my friends, and part of an extended family. We’re very close, we all get along. It’s a very nice environment to work in… And it’s not like that everywhere, so I think I owe that to them,” Stortz said. “It doesn’t matter what you need, someone is always there to help you out … and they really mean it, they’re really there to help. They back up what they say.”

The dedication goes both ways. Bonnie Lawrence, VP QOL, nominated Stortz for this spotlight, writing: “DeLena runs to [the care centers’] rescue. She works alongside the center, for long hours, coming in at night and on the weekends to assist the center to survey success. She frequently gives up time with her family to help a center. In the end, it is all about her respect for elders, her integrity in doing the right thing, and her passion for our residents, employees, and our company. DeLena doesn’t sugarcoat things, she is honest in her interactions with the centers about the potential outcomes of their survey issues. The thing about DeLena is that she doesn’t expect anything from the center that she is not right beside them doing. . . While I don’t see us typically giving this award to someone at the VP level, DeLena’s passion for our company and its mission deserves recognition.”

In addition to working well with the care centers and her peers, Stortz also encourages the younger generations, as well as anyone still questioning or re-evaluating their career path. “I encourage any young person who sparks an interest in nursing to go to nursing school. We need more nurses. We need people to take care of people. Making sure we have the right, compassionate staff, people who like doing their job just as much as I like doing mine, who are there for the right reason and not just here for a paycheck. And to make sure that they’re oriented and know the Consulate way of doing things, as opposed to however their last job worked and other health care companies.”

Stortz’s enthusiasm is refreshing. “[In my job], I do a lot of everything. . . whatever anybody needs done. I’m always up for a challenge. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I have worked in other facets of nursing, but this is truly what I love doing most. I feel privileged to take care of our residents and make a difference in their lives.”

Consulate’s core values are ingrained in her and revealed through her dedication, work ethic, and genuine compassion and respect for residents. She touts integrity and honesty as most vital of all core values—the backbone supporting the rest.

“Without integrity, you don’t have much. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am. That ‘tell it like it is’ is quality. I am very matter of fact with buildings. They trust me, they believe me, I’m never going to lie to them.”

To everyone working in the health care industry, Stortz advised: “Do what you know is right, each and every single day, and don’t cut corners because you’re in a hurry. If you’re doing what you know to be right each and everyday and do the best job you have within you to do, and you know why you’re there, and keep the patient at the center of everything, you will never go wrong.”