Inside Athena: The C.N.A. Whose Part-Time Job Turned Into Decades-Long Career at Newtown Rehab
NEWTOWN, C.T. — What Brenda Ashby thought would be a part-time job for her when her daughter was in kindergarten turned into a long-lasting, successful career as a Certified Nurse Aide (C.N.A) at Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center. This year, Ashby will be at the center for 34 years.
“I really thought I would just do this for when she was in kindergarten,” she laughed and said. “Well, she must be still in kindergarten. I love it. I know that I’m helping people and I make a difference daily.”
Before joining the skilled nursing center in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Ashby worked in a factory, and this was a major career change for her. She recalls that she wasn’t sure if she would like it and would have these conversations with her family, but when offered the opportunity, she gave it a shot and never looked back.
“I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do,” she said. “I love all the interactions and love being hands-on with the residents. You have to have a lot of patience and treat them as your family.”
Ashby primarily works on the third floor at the center and is known to be upbeat, happy, positive, and approachable to residents, families, and staff.
“I always approach the residents in a happy and good mood. If you’re happy, it brings it out in them and I feel that my mood gives them inspiration,” she said.
She shares a daily banter she has with one resident in particular. When she sees him, she will always ask how he is doing and he will reply with a standard, “I’m good” greeting, but Ashby then says, “’And, how am I?’ and he will always reply back to me, ‘You’re wonderful.’”
“He looks forward to that every day,” she said. “It is so important to have patience, understanding, and get to know them to develop that relationship.”
There were times when Ashby thought about exploring a nursing degree but knew it wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to lose the hands-on interactions which motivates her to provide the best quality care she can to the residents.
“I enjoy doing the care and I know I’m making a difference in their lives,” she proudly states.