Inside a hospital room at her father’s bedside, Cynthia Stainback’s world rocked and shifted for good. All at once, she lost her father, and the trajectory of her career altered its course. She explained that, in her time of loss: “I had a nurse who made all the difference for me. Checking in on us all the time, she continually made him as comfortable as possible while he was there. And so I said, that’s what I want to do.”

Now an LPN at Shoal Creek Rehabilitation in Crestview, Florida, it’s Stainback’s turn to comfort and care for residents and their loved ones during times of healing and recovery, as well as grief and loss. “Watching people decline is challenging, but I like being there for the families.”

Stainback earned her nursing degree in 2015, and started her career in home health care. After a year, Stainback decided to expand her horizons and help individuals living in care centers.

Lucky for Shoal Creek Rehab, Stainback joined the staff in August 2018, and blended into the group well. Kandice Watson, a fellow Shoal Creek nurse, nominated Stainback for this recognition and honor, and described her as a “great patient advocate,” “very dependable,” an “excellent nurse,” and one who “always does her job to the best of her ability.”

In Stainback’s words: “We have a really good team. Team members are great to jump in if they see you floundering or have questions. They’re really good people who try to pick you up or help you—whatever you need.”

However, she said it’s her patients that motivate her everyday. “I absolutely love my residents. Even when I don’t feel well or are tired, they motivate me,” she gushed. “It’s great to see their faces brighten up when I come in. Several of them, the first thing when they see me, they say, ‘Give me a hug.’. . . I’ve gotten really close to them. . . A lot of them call me ‘Cyndi Lou Lou.’ So that’s my nickname now.”

"You have to check in with [the residents]. . . Listen. Everyone has something they might want to tell you.”

She considers compassion the most vital core value to the health care field. “[The residents] are people. People may look at them as a chart, or  another med check, but they’re more. Always keep that in mind. . . it’s important to validate their feelings and check-in. . . Some don’t have family, they feel like they’ve been dumped. You have to check in with them. . . Listen. Everyone has something they might want to tell you.”

This profession of compassionate care requires individuals who will go so much farther than punching and punching out, or checking off tasks on a list. Fortunately, Cynthia Stainback fits the bill. She advises anyone in this field—especially those working in senior care centers—to “take a breath, and always be willing to slow down and listen. . .” Stainback values her residents and their stories, and strives to make them smile.