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Brown passionate about patient care

March 25, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The title - nursing home administrator - sounds lofty and formal, but Carla Brown said she wants everyone to know she isn't afraid to get her hands dirty in her new job at Avalon Manor Health Care Center.

"I have a passion for this," Brown said after her first full month on the job at the 161-resident center at 14014 Marsh Pike north of Hagerstown.

A 37-year-old wife and mother, Brown is a Texas native who has lived in Washington County for eight years.

"Growing up, I had two sisters and a mother who all worked in nursing homes," Brown said.

She worked at nursing homes as a nursing assistant in summer internship programs.

She graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler with a political science degree and briefly toyed with the idea of pursuing a law career. But in her heart, she said she knew her true calling.

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When her husband, Brent, was transferred here, she saw an advertisement in the newspaper for employment with the Washington County Commission on Aging, Brown said. From 1996 to 2001, she was the long-term care ombudsman for that agency.

She took an online class through the University of North Carolina to become certified as a nursing home administrator.

"As part of that, I needed to spend a year training," Brown said.

She split her time between Coffman Nursing Home, where she was mentored by Yvonne Eyler, and Homewood at Williamsport, where she learned from Richard Lenehan.

"Richard taught how to be effective," Brown said. "And Yvonne showed what things to be on the lookout for in the nursing home setting."

Several levels of patient care are available at Avalon Manor, Brown said. Many residents are there to stay, while others are temporary, there for rehabilitation so they may return home.

As administrator, Brown not only has to work with all the residents and their families, but also has a large staff with a lot of issues.

"People don't get into this for the money, they do it because they have a love for people and the work," Brown said.

Already Brown is noticing the hours are long and the work is unending.

"But I love it. I have lots of energy and am ready to solve problems for the residents and the staff," she said.

Brown said the work is satisfying because she is working with families and meeting people from the community.

Her spare time is limited because of her work and her attention to the needs of her son, Chad. But Brown said she jumped at the chance to join the board of directors of Hospice of Washington County.

"I am impressed with their work," she said.

Since the fall of 2004, Genesis Healthcare has managed Avalon Manor, Brown said. The facility is owned by Perini Inc.

"I don't want anyone to ever go home unhappy with their stay here," Brown said.

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