The three women recently recognized by Rim Country Health have a lot in common.
First, they all like being able to help people; second, they get great joy from their work, the RCH residents and their fellow employees; and third, they all have food service backgrounds.
Rookie of the Year
Jessica Romo is the 2016 Rookie of the Year for RCH.
Employed by the housekeeping department, she has worked at RCH only since August 2016.
She has been a resident of the Payson area off and on for about 19 years and has family here, including a toddler, her mother and stepfather and former in-laws.
Romo has worked since she was 14 and was employed for many years at the Early Bird in Pine and Taco Bell in Payson. After so many years in food service she was a little burned out by it and wanted to try something different. A friend employed at RCH told her about the job in housekeeping and she checked it out.
“I love it,” she said.
Romo does more than clean rooms and offices — about 60 a week in all — she connects with many of the residents.
“I’ve fallen in love with everyone. Seeing their faces brightens her day,” she said.
Her all-time favorite patient — Isabelle Denny; even if Denny’s room is not on her schedule for cleaning she will stop in to say hello.
“She will eat for me when she gives others a hard time.”
Romo said working with the elderly and ill has made her appreciate the good moments in her life more and more, even the small ones.
“For some (of the patients), all they remember are the good moments and they love to share those memories with me.”
Eventually, when her schedule and finances make it possible, Romo said she would like to become a certified nursing assistant and then a licensed practical nurse to help patients more directly.
She said her boss and co-workers are awesome and the staff is really good at taking care of the residents.
Romo said she’d like to see more people visit RCH’s patients; they almost all really love company.
Employee of the Year
Brandice O’Brien was named 2016 RCH Employee of the Year. She has been with RCH for a little more than four years, starting as a receptionist; O’Brien now does accounts payable, prior authorization for outpatients and collections. And she is also taking on the facility’s billing.
“I feel very appreciated and very happy to be acknowledged,” O’Brien said of the honor.
Adding it has added meaning because her fellow employees — RCH has more than 100 on staff — voted that she get the Employee of the Year award, which included a plaque and cash.
She is a longtime resident of Payson. O’Brien has lived here off and on since she was 15, attending Payson High School.
O’Brien was working at Denny’s, having advanced to a manager’s position, when the reception job opened at RCH. She said she made the change because of better pay and it was also a job that better suited her life’s needs, making it possible to have more time with her children.
O’Brien said the most rewarding aspects of working for RCH have been learning a new career and being able to buy her first home.
She said the most challenging aspect of their work is dealing with insurance companies.
O’Brien said she likes that her work with RCH is consistent and pays better than a lot of jobs in the area.
Manager of the Year
Christine Zuber in the 2015 Manager of the Year at RCH. She serves as the facility’s social service director.
Employed at RCH for five years, she worked as an assistant to four other social service directors and when she was given the job was helped with the ropes by a consultant the company used.
Zuber does not have a degree in social work, but because the RCH facility has fewer than 121 beds, regulations don’t require her to have formal social work credentials. So, her training has been on the job and she continues to take classes.
Among the classes she has taken are those that led to her becoming a certified trainer through the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in October 2015. With that certification she has led monthly programs to help the loved ones and caregivers gain understanding about and learn the best practices for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is the accomplishment I am most proud of,” she said.
Zuber will start a new series of classes for 2017 that address some specific needs participants have.
She is also proud that through her efforts RCH became the first facility to bring a mobile service to provide in-house hearing testing and hearing aids; eye tests and glasses; and dental checkups and dentures for residents. This is done at no cost to the residents, she said.
Outside these special accomplishments, Zuber said her job is to make sure the residents have what they need.
“I want to thank my fellow employees and managers for nominating me. The love in this facility is phenomenal. It is like a family and we all make sure everyone is taken care of,” she said.