NEWPORT — Jenna Austin, administrator of Lindley Health and Rehab Center in Newport, was recently recognized as one of the top-three long-term-care administrators in the state for 2013.
“I was truly humbled and honored,” she said. “I did not expect that at all.”
The award recognizes outstanding administrators who work in long-term-care facilities, along with showing dedication to continued professional growth in the long-term-care field, as well as their community, according to the Arkansas Health Care Foundation website.
Though she is 30 years old and has been working at Lindley Health and Rehab since 2005, she grew up visiting nursing homes because of her mother.
“My mother is a nurse at a nursing home in Dardanelle,” she said. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”
While Austin was a student at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, she worked as a certified nursing assistant, so helping others is nothing new to her, she said.
“The financial side of nursing homes is a lot different,” she said.
Though her job can be a bit overwhelming at times, Austin said, the residents are the best part of her work at Lindley Health and Rehab.
“I love getting to know them; that’s the best part of [my job],” she said. “I speak to people all the time, and they want to send things to the residents, but all they want is [people to spend time with them].”
When she started at the age of 22, Austin was the youngest nursing-home administrator in the state of Arkansas.
At 30, she’s still one of the youngest members of her staff in Newport but has received the nickname “Mama Jenna.”
“The staff calls me that because I’m a very old soul,” she said. “I’m [young] enough to be some of my staff’s children.”
Austin said she is grateful for the people she works with each day.
“God has sent me every staff member that I have,” she said. “I’ve been blessed to have a wonderful team. We want to be here.”
Austin finds joy in her job, but it does have its downside, she said.
“It’s so hard to lose the residents,” she said. “We get attached to them.”
Lindley Health and Rehab Center has 102 residents, and Austin said although the number of residents is large, the people with which her staff deals doesn’t stop there.
“You’ve got the 102 residents, but then you’ve got 102 sets of family members,” she said.
During her time at Lindley Health and Rehab, Austin said, she continues to learn.
“[The residents] have wonderful things to say and teach us. On a daily basis, I learn something, whether I want to or not,” she said.
“I learn life lessons and how to handle things [from the residents]. Most of the time, things will pass, and it’ll be all right. I want to be more like that.”
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or email@example.com.