Donna Cavanaugh began working at Walnut Cove Health and Rehabilitation in Walnut Cove, NC, in 2005 as a rehabilitation technician. She has since transitioned into admissions and business development, but along the road has been in several roles. Her various experiences at the care center have allowed her to get to know her patients well. She is a very compassionate and caring individual, and the patients absolutely adore her.  Donna’s wonderful personality and her infectious laugh are contagious and they’re also what makes the patients thrive.

Unsurprisingly, Donna has shined in every position she has worked in. No matter the task, her open and empathetic demeanor has allowed her patients to be comfortable talking to her about their personal lives and their difficulties. Donna has always had an open door policy with her patients, as well as her colleagues, and it is known that anyone can go to her for guidance and encouragement. We asked Donna what motivates her to come to work each day and she said, “The residents. Each year I realize that I’m getting closer and closer to being one of them! They are so inspiring to me.” Donna has had several patients who have impacted her in some way. She said, “Their attitude is inspiring. They have great willpower and determination. They are fighters, and they don’t give up.”

Even today, Donna continually keeps her CNA license active and is always willing to help on the floor whenever she is needed.  She volunteers her time to assist with any task that is requested of her. Additionally, Donna participates in many after-hour activities that require lots of help such as parades, chicken stews, hospital visits, supply pick up, holiday decorating, party preparation, etc.  At times, the care center has also been in need of a relief van driver. It’s no surprise that Donna was willing to become trained and also take on this role. Many times, she has been called in the early hours of the morning to drive patients to an appointment so they would not need to cancel.  She has stayed late to drive the van to a holiday light display so the residents could have a special event.  She has come in on a weekend and driven a patient to a family member’s funeral. You name it, Donna has done it.

"You name it, Donna has done it."

Donna’s many years of experience in long term care have given her a great understanding of how families feel when bringing a loved one to a care center.  Donna has had several family members of her own that have stayed at Walnut Cove, and she knows how incredibly difficult it can be for family members. Because of her knowledge, she has been able to help families and provide them comfort as they transition their loved ones to a skilled nursing center. Donna’s compassion is also what makes her so relatable and wonderful at what she does. We asked Donna what she believes to be the most important Core Value and she said “For me, compassion. If you don’t have compassion, then you cannot relate to any part of this environment.”

It has been 13 years since Donna began working at Walnut Cove, and she is now an even greater asset to the team. Families and patients have gotten to know her through the years, and maintain a close relationship with her.  They call her when they are back home to update her on their progress, or even to tell her they are back in the hospital again and need to come back. She provides a constant comfort and joy to the residents and staff at Walnut Cove.  We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful employee as a part of the Consulate Health Care family. Thank you Donna for all that you have done and still do for our patients every day.

We would like to extend a special thank you to Sandra Robertson, who works in the rehab department at Walnut Cove Health and Rehabilitation Center for co-writing this post about Donna Cavanaugh. Sandra and Donna have worked together for many years.