Maple Lawn Senior Care nurses volunteering with Fulda Ambulance Association
FULDA -- The Fulda Ambulance Association provides important support to Maple Lawn Senior Care. In turn, Maple Lawn returns the favor. Four employes at the senior care facility -- Krista Solt, an RN and nurse manager for assisted living; Heidi App...
FULDA - The Fulda Ambulance Association provides important support to Maple Lawn Senior Care. In turn, Maple Lawn returns the favor.
Four employes at the senior care facility - Krista Solt, an RN and nurse manager for assisted living; Heidi Appel, director of nursing at Maple Lawn Senior Care; Barb Paplow, an LPN who has been employed with Maple Lawn for 27½ years; and RN Elishia Christians - currently serve with the ambulance association. Their service helps the community as a whole, not to mention Maple Lawn’s residents and staff.
Solt began working at Maple Lawn in 2009. Originally from the Twin Cities, Solt married a man from Reading and as a result found herself moving to southwest Minnesota.
“This is my third year on the ambulance,” Solt said, gesturing toward Appel and Paplow. “These guys recruited me.
“They had asked me numerous times before, but I wasn’t able because I had a small child at home,” she continued. “Once he got a little bit older and was able to be on his own, I said, ‘OK, I’ll try it.’”
Appel, who is on the same ambulance squad as Solt, has been an employee at Maple Lawn for 12 years. Not coincidentally, that’s how long she has been with the ambulance association.
“I moved to town and started working here, and they (ambulance) found out I had an EMT,” Appel said. “They said, ‘You need to join.’
“When I first started out on the ambulance, it was hard for me to take a lot of calls because I had little ones at home,” continued Appel, who grew up an hour north of the Twin Cities. “Now, it’s easier because they're in school or daycare, and so it's easier for me to be on call.”
Paplow, meanwhile, has been on the ambulance crew for around 15 years.
“When I got my LPN license ... the director of the ambulance found out I was a nurse and called me,” she remembered. “I was told, “Classes start on such and such a day, you will be there.’ I was pretty much told I was going to be on.
“I'm very happy I am,” added Paplow, a Fulda native. “Helping out people and knowing that Worthington is about 20 miles away and Slayton is 12 … we’re available right here and can be at the ambulance in between three and five minutes. We're saving lives.”
Members of the Fulda Ambulance Association need to reside within six miles of Fulda.
“So many people work in Worthington or somewhere else, so it’s really hard during the day to find people to actually respond,” said Arlan Swanson, administrator/CEO at Maple Lawn. “It’s easier at night, when people who live in Fulda are home, but in the daytime our staff can make a big difference.”
When one of the four Maple Lawn women on the Fulda ambulance crew go out on a call, other staff at the senior care facility are quick to pitch in where needed.
“We're on call every third week and every sixth weekend and when there's a shortage of day people, we do fill in hours ... but we're not usually all on call at the same time,” Paplow said. “When I do have a call, I have fellow nurses that will step up and do my med cart. ... They step up and do my work while I’m gone, and then I pick up my work when I get back.”
The women agree that volunteering with the ambulance is another means of offering valuable support to Maple Lawn residents.
“It's really nice to have the four of us help in this way,” Appel said. “When we have to send one of our residents to the hospital by ambulance, one of us is usually there to be with them, and that's very comforting to them.”
There are currently about 20 members of the Fulda Ambulance Association, and some are simply drivers and not EMTs. At least two EMTs go out on a call, as well as a driver.
“If we're here and we're on call, we get pages and go the the ambulance hall, and then from there we go to wherever we have to go,” Paplow explained.
Fundraisers are also a part of membership with the ambulance team. Paplow said an annual fundraiser is hosted near the weekend of Valentine’s Day that includes a pork loin dinner prepared by the ambulance staff (half of the food is donated by Maple Lawn), a quilt raffle, door prizes and a piano player during the meal. Door-to-door ticket sales for the event take place about a month and a half beforehand.
While the fundraisers are important, it’s clearly the mission of the ambulance group that’s most critical.
“I enjoy helping the people and enjoy helping my fellow EMTs,” Solt said. “It’s a fun group. There are some weeks where we get call after call after call, and some weeks when you don’t get anything. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen. …In the summer it’s usually busier, as usually 50 percent of the time in the summer an accident is outside.”
“When I’m on the call in the winter, I pray, ‘Please don’t have there be any accidents,’” Appel added.
“That’s the scariest in the winter,” Solt agreed. “You don’t want to have to go to any accidents.”
The ambulance volunteers have each seen a lot during their efforts. No matter what, they stated, each call needs to be answered with a mix of care and concern.
“There are times when we are called when it’s serious and you kind of get that flutter in your stomach,” Appel said. “You kind of have to tell yourself, ‘OK, I’m going to go out and do this.’ Then there are times when you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there before. And then sometimes you get the elderly lady who meets at you at the door with a suitcase. … But you never know - this time it may be different, and it might be more serious.
“We’ll tell stories when we get together once a month for our meetings. Sometimes we laugh, and we’ll also talk about how we can improve and what we could have done differently.”
Maple Lawn has “about 108 employees,” said Swanson, a total that includes both full- and part-time help. Over time, the facility has continued to maintain a close relationship with the ambulance association.
“We’ve had a lot of employees over the years be on the ambulance,” Swanson said. “When I started here 25 years ago, we had a tall antenna in back and we had an emergency radio unit at the nurse’s desk. … We were part of the whole Murray County dispatch process.
“I hope the ambulance staff feels like we’re supportive because it’s really beneficial to the community and also for Maple Lawn to have speedy access to emergency help,” Swanson continued. “Our priority here is the residents, and we need to make sure that we don’t do anything that jeopardizes their care here, but we do have some flexibility with our staff that allows us to support the ambulance the way we do.
“I like to think of all the ambulance people as heroes. They could all go home at night and not carry a pager - they are willing to make a huge commitment.”