Longtime employee takes over as center’s director of nursing
The new director of nursing at Tonganoxie Nursing Center has a long connection with Tonganoxie.
Melinda Craig, a registered nurse who has worked at the center since 1993, said she thinks of the residents as family.
"I think they're all my grandparents," Craig said. "I figure I have more grandparents than just about anybody."
That's what she likes about her work.
"It's like a family atmosphere," Craig said. "It's like it's a big family with the residents and the staff. I enjoy it -- it's a fun place to work."
Susan Roberts, executive director, said that Craig had been offered the director of nursing position several times in the past, and turned it down.
Craig said it's because of Roberts that she accepted the position this time.
"I felt like we had the executive director in place that I really wanted to work for," Craig said. "The executive director and the director of nursing really need to be a team for it to work."
Craig, who graduated from nursing school at Kansas City Kansas Community College in 1992, said she's worked all shifts in her years at the center. For the past six years, she's worked days.
But Craig said she plans to continue working once in a while on weekends and evenings so that she'll be able to keep in touch with residents' families who visit during those times.
"Susan and I both have the open door policy that we're always open to concerns or ideas," Craig said. "We really like to involve the family as much as possible."
Craig, who is the daughter of Tonganoxie residents Kenny and Barbara Mahoney, graduated from Tonganoxie High School in 1979. She and her husband, Dan, have a 19-year-old son, Colby, who is a theater major at KCKCC.
Craig first worked in the nursing home field when she and her husband lived in Bella Vista, Ark.
"I started out as a CAN and became an activities director, and came back here and went to nursing school," Craig said.
In looking back, she made the right choice, she said, because the work is rewarding.
"I love the older folks," Craig said. "They have such a wealth of history and they just captured my heart."
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