By Beth Ireland with ValpoLife.com. Reprinted with permission.
What's a Long Island, N.Y., city gal doing in Northwest Indiana? Leading the care team as director of nursing at Life Care Center of Valparaiso.
Forty years ago, Linda Filan and her husband moved to Northwest Indiana for his work. After living in a few different cities, they put down roots in Hobart and have been there ever since.
"I love it out here. I love the seasons," Filan said. "Where we are is a nice residential and pretty area and I enjoy being out in the country a little bit."
After taking some time out from nursing to raise her three children, Filan returned to the nursing field. When she first applied at Life Care Center of Valparaiso, she thought it was for a hospice care position, but then realized it was for long-term and short-term skilled nursing care, and she knew it would be a great fit.
"This was the perfect venue to get back into nursing," Filan said. "What could be better than being in a facility where there is almost every physical malady present? We see all of the things you would see in a hospital setting, but here we'd see them for a longer time, and I could get more familiar with the way that things are done."
About 29 years later, the happy accident that led her to Life Care Center of Valparaiso has turned into a fulfilling career, and Filan has held her director of nursing title for 24 of those years.
"They always tell me that directors of nursing don't normally stay in one place for that long, but this is a very nice atmosphere," Filan said. "Every day is a new experience here, and every day there is something to be happy about. I feel like I'm fulfilling my mission."
During her time at Life Care Center of Valparaiso, Filan completed her Bachelor of Science at Valparaiso University. Receiving a bachelor's was a dream Filan wasn't sure she'd accomplish, but thanks to the adaptable programs at VU, she fulfilled her dream in 2008.
"I loved VU, it's a wonderful local university. I had the opportunity to take part in a program that accepts people with diplomas and gives them a pathway to achieving a bachelor's, which was important to me. I really wanted a bachelor's, but I was concerned about having to start from square one. They had an adaptive program that was ideal."
As director of nursing, Filan's job is to ensure that the residents at Life Care Center of Valparaiso are receiving consistent and high-quality care.
"Life Care has the right philosophy for our residents. We adapt to the residents' needs, and adapt the care that we provide to make them as comfortable as we can," Filan said. "They (Life Care Center) understand what this is all about, and we all work together to give the residents what they need. Everyone is willing to go outside of their comfort zone to do the right thing for the residents."
There are always new things to learn when working with skilled care patients and staying up-to-date and adaptable is important. Filan and her team have mastered nursing care, especially for the elderly, but they also incorporate care of the whole person, socially and emotionally.
"They light up when you give them an ice cream cone," Filan said. "It's interesting how giving them something special, doesn't have to be ice cream, just something totally out of the ordinary, can really make their day."
Throughout her career, Filan has found that, ultimately, the connections made with residents are the most enjoyable parts of the job.
"Once you've made that connection, you can see it on the resident's face. Each time they greet you, they're happy to see you," Filan said."I love my residents; they're wonderful."
In her free time, Filan enjoys being in the great outdoors. She especially enjoys taking her grandchildren horseback riding. One of her favorite places to go to in Hobart is Deep River Park.
"There's horseback riding and places to go to walk trails and commune with nature. It's quiet and peaceful," Filan said.