For nurse Marlyce Cozart, RN, checking in with residents at Providence Chiniak Bay Elder House on Kodiak Island is like visiting favorite family members.
“I’m out there pretty much every day,” Marlyce explains about her work of coordinating information for the care plans for each of the long-term care center’s 22 residents and her passion for being part of their lives.
“Just to say hi and get some good smiles and laughs. It’s just an everyday thing with me. They’re just like family. We discuss everything and anything and all kinds of things.”
For Cozart that adds up to decades of smiles and conversations. She recently celebrated her 40-year work anniversary at the center.
“I have two daughters,” explains Cozart. “They pretty much grew up here. A lot of residents felt like they were their grandchildren.” After having her second child, one resident came to the nursery at the nearby hospital to see the baby.
As much as the center’s residents have been part of her life, she also enjoys being part of their lives.
“The residents here all have such a special quality about them,” Marlyce says. She enjoys getting to know them and helping them be as peaceful and happy as they can be in the last few years of their life.
Her daughters and her late husband have each volunteered at the center. Now her dog continues the family tradition, coming to work with her as a therapy animal two to three days a week.
Cozart is often the first person a new resident meets when they arrive at the center. She completes new resident assessments and starts their care plans. For most residents, it’s their last home.
“A few times I thought I could retire and travel. But you know, those are just momentary things,” she says. “When you work in long-term care, you keep getting rewards over and over. As long as I have the mind and body, I’ll just keep going.”
Her work and the relationships she has with residents and her colleagues brings her everyday happiness.
“So many people have gotten into my heart and my life,” Cozart says. “God just put me here to be with elders and lift their day, every day. This is where I’m meant to be. It makes my heart happy.”
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