Every morning, whether the sky is cloudy or clear, a ray of sunshine comes through the door of Heritage Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Fort Myers, Florida. Elyssa Ion, the MDS coordinator at Heritage Park, brings her bright energy into everything that she does. She looks forward to beginning each day by saying hello to the patients, seeing their smiles, and helping to serve breakfast. It’s clear that Elyssa is not the only one who enjoys this morning routine. Her patients absolutely love her. In fact, they recently chose her as the “Employee of the Month,” as announced in the most recent care center newsletter. Elyssa jokes that she knows the names of all 120 residents, and could probably tell you their favorite color too!

Prior to coming to Heritage Park seven months ago, Elyssa worked in a pediatric office. She started her career as a CNA, and recently became an LPN. Elyssa is motivated by the residents and patients that she cares for. As the MDS coordinator, she told us that she is “the glue” for other staff members in regard to the resident’s care. She understands the resident’s status when they come to Heritage Park and follows them as they progress at the care center. As part of the interdisciplinary care team, she comes up with a plan for each resident, and makes sure the staff from all of the other departments contribute.

Elyssa finds it incredibly rewarding to see her residents make progress. She told us about a recent patient who care to Heritage Park after suffering from a heart attack. When he first came in, he was completely dependent on others. It wasn’t long before Elyssa witnessed him making coffee for himself. Elyssa told us, “It’s the little things like that that make working in healthcare rewarding.”

“It’s the little things like that that make working in healthcare rewarding.”

Elyssa says the hardest part of the job is keeping everyone happy. It’s especially challenging when a resident feels they are ready to go home, but it has been determined that they are not yet safe for a discharge. She takes her responsibility seriously, and works with the entire team to ensure the appropriate time for discharge.

We asked Elyssa if she had advice for other MDS coordinators. She said that it’s important to be a team player, and to be mindful of all of the departments. She also recommends having an open door policy with fellow staff members, residents, and family members. She said that if you are welcoming, it will keep the channels of communication open between all parties, and ultimately the patients will get the best care.

Regarding the future, Elyssa would like to go back to school to become an RN. She could see herself in a nursing leadership position, like a unit manager or director of nursing. In her free time, Elyssa enjoys all water related activities, including going to the beach, boating, and fishing.

Elyssa, thank you for sharing your sunshine with all of Heritage Park’s staff, residents, and families. You are a treasure!