One thing becomes immediately apparent when you meet Virgie Whitney, LPN from Beneva Lakes Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Sarasota, Florida. Virgie absolutely loves her patients and residents at the care center. The passion for her patients isn’t only apparent from the words she says, but also in every aspect of her voice as she talks about them.

Virgie was nominated for the CHIRPs spotlight by another MDS coordinator, Bonnie Moubshire, who said “Virgie’s work ethic is incomparable.  For 28 years she has treated every resident with dignity and respect.  Compassion is her best quality, she is always able to put herself in the resident’s shoes and will go above and beyond to try to make their lives happier and healthier.” Virgie is a lifelong nurse. She is originally from Northern Maine, where she went to nursing school. She then moved to New Jersey, where she was a nurse for ten years, finally settling in Florida and working at Beneva Lakes for 28 years.

Just ask Virgie about her patients, and you can hear the love (and sometimes tears) pouring out through her voice. She has seen a lot over the years, but COVID-19 has her feeling particularly protective of her residents. She mentioned two women in particular, both well over 100 years old whom she loves very much. Now that their families are not allowed in the care center, Virgie feels even more responsibility to remind them that they are cared for every day. Social distancing makes this even more challenging, because Virgie really wants to give them their usual goodbye hugs and loving words at the end of the day, but she can’t do it because of social distancing regulations.

Just because she is a serious nursing professional, don’t think that Virgie doesn’t have a great sense of humor. Virgie had a 14 year-old Golden Retriever, named Daisy May. Daisy May was a therapy dog and would accompany Virgie to work. Residents and staff all loved the dog. Virgie told a story about being out sick from work one day. Upon returning to the care center, the residents would all ask, “Where was Daisy May yesterday?” She laughed when telling us that her own absence was just an afterthought.

We learned from Virgie’s CHIRPs nomination that “Virgie has an eagle eye for detail, she can tell you which residents should have glasses, splints, dentures etcetera, and she will stop in her tracks to ensure every resident has what they need.” Virgie said in her own words, “The residents need me. We are their family, I come to give them love and compassion.” It’s clear to us that Virgie’s love and compassion are well received.

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