Inside Athena: Shady Knoll Director of Nursing Setting a Standard in Senior Care

Inside Athena: Shady Knoll Director of Nursing Setting a Standard in Senior Care

SEYMOUR, C.T. — Diane Azeez wants resident families at Shady Knoll Health Center to know she is always there to help and listen.

She joined the Seymour center in 2012 as the Assistant Director of Nursing and was promoted to the Director of Nursing two years later.

“I love my job,” she said. “It’s comforting. It’s home. I love my staff.”

The Berkshire Community College graduate notes the residents and staff encourage her and motivate her each day. The center has a lot of longevity among team members including numerous people in the nursing department who have been at Shady Knoll for more than 25  years.

When Azeez is looking to add a new nurse or nurse aide to the department, she wants to make sure they have the passion and the drive for skilled nursing.

“When I interview people, I tell people how long I’ve been here. I tell them my expectations. You have to care about what you do,” she said. “You have to respect the people you work with.”

Assembling such a caring team shows in resident care and how the team addresses any concerns. She wants family members to know they matter.

“If a family member were to call me tonight and say, ‘We had an issue with mom last night,’ I follow up. I will do follow-up phone calls. It’s not like you call me today and tell me there’s a concern and I say ‘Yes, I’ll take care of it’ and I address it with the CNA and that’s it. If you have a concern or an issue and you bring it to my attention, I will continue to follow up with you on a weekly basis,” the DNS said.

Azeez (left) with Shady Knoll Administrator Elza Augustin (right)

Azeez had worked in hospitals before transitioning into skilled nursing. While working at prior nursing homes, she noticed many residents would never have family or friends visit, and was taken aback by that. In turn, she became their family and has found enjoyment in caring for seniors in her community.

“She’s been here for close to 12 years. Over the last 2+ years working with her my observance is that she takes her job very seriously!  She’s the type of Director of nurses who is not afraid to wear many hats whenever needed to ensure the facility runs smoothly. She won’t go home until she checks all of her boxes. She is definitely the DNS who would not leave any stone unturned!” Elza Augustin, Shady Knoll’s Administrator, said.

Azeez also serves in a regional role for Athena Health Care Systems, helping the teams at Northbridge Health Care Center in Bridgeport, Maefair Health Care Center in Trumbull, and Laurel Ridge Health Care Center in Ridgefield.

“I have a good rapport with the people I work with,” she said and added she wants those centers to know she is always there to support them.

Whether helping out when needed or helping residents at Shady Knoll, Azeez said it is never done on her own, but with a team. Her team is also heavily involved with training the next generation of nurses, partnering with local hospitals and programs to serve as a host site for clinicals.

“I enjoy teaching and I feel like right now, with COVID and everything that happened, the students haven’t got a lot of training,” she said. “They had to do Zoom and online training, they didn’t have a lot of hands-on. The new generation that’s coming now with all the nursing schools, we like to get them in the building so we give them the right training.”

Azeez is proud to work at Shady Knoll, of which she calls a “loving home environment.”

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April 25, 2024 A Healthier Approach To Caring, Inside Athena