From her first day at Homeland Center in October 2017, Kelly Weldon “just dove right in, talking to everybody, remembering the things they like and don’t like.”
Kelly spent the first 16 years of her nursing career working at an area retirement community. She left there to work at the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, but the job mostly entailed dispensing medications, and it wasn’t as fulfilling as working with the elderly.
“I missed the hustle and bustle of having residents and hearing about their lives and taking care of them,” she said. “They’re funny and great to be around.”
Kelly is responsible for clinical management in Personal Care at Homeland Center. She loves getting to know the residents. In fact, she said, she could never work at a hospital because it would frustrate her to see patients going in and out.
“I like to know who I’m taking care of,” she said. “I like to know everything about them from A to Z, their families and their medications.”
That familiarity with individual residents and their families contributes to excellence in services, she believes.
“We get to know someone and their background and know their family and feel close to them,’’ she said. “To me, it provides for better care.”
At Homeland, she loves “the fact that the residents are first and foremost. No matter what they need or what they want, they will get it. Anything. They’re well taken care of.”
When one resident needed a rolling walker, Kelly gave her a walker that belonged to her husband’s grandmother when she lived with them.
“That brightened her whole life,” she said. “Every time I see her, she says thank you for the walker.”
Kelly grew up in Marysville and after graduating from high school studied nursing at Harrisburg Area Community College. Kelly’s mother was a nurse as well, recently retiring after 40 years working in maternity care.
“It’s about that nurturing, just to be a nurse and a caregiver,” Kelly said, adding she learned those lessons early from her mother. “You don’t leave your shift until everything’s taken care of and everything’s right. You go the extra mile.”
It was while working at the Camp Hill prison that she realized she wanted to return to senior care.
Outside of work, she and her husband have three teenagers, a 13-year-old son and two daughters, 15 and 17. Kelly’s husband, retired from the Army National Guard Reserves, is a stay-at-home dad. His 15 years of service included tours in Germany and Iraq. Her parents were a tremendous help when her husband was overseas. On nights she wasn’t around to make dinner, the kids called it “fend for yourself night.”
“We had a lot of leftovers,” said the Lower Paxton Township resident. “It was a good experience for them to be on their own. I’m teaching them to be very independent because I’m independent. I want my kids to be able to do for themselves.”
Kelly said she’s at Homeland to stay.
“I hope to retire here because it feels like home,’’ she said. “It just feels right.”