Inside Athena: Shady Knoll C.N.A. Welcoming Residents With A Smile
SEYMOUR, C.T. — 2024 marks 30 years in the United States for Shady Knoll Health Care Center C.N.A. Ilona Kluzinski and 24 years at the Connecticut nursing facility.
She joined in October of 2000 and has never left. She comes from a background in healthcare, having worked in a hospital in Poland. The main reasons she’s stayed at Shady Knoll… the residents and the facility.
“I’m leaving my whole heart over [at Shady Knoll]. I really try to communicate, smile, and treat them with respect and I let them know they can count on me,” she said.
Every day she is building close relationships with the residents and wants them to feel like they belong. She treats them as if they were her own loved ones, and she wants the families to trust the hands residents are in. When asked what she enjoys about being a C.N.A., she answered, “Make them happy.”
She proudly adds she has never been late to a shift in all her years at the center. In fact, she was recognized as Employee of the Month in January 2024 for being on time, attentive, and being a team player.
Kluzinski works in the rehabilitation unit, helping residents with short-term stays after surgeries. She said each introduction starts with a smile and clarification that she is there to help in any way she can.
“‘I’m here every minute you want. If you want anything. If you want it right now, I can get it. If you don’t like this one, I can get you something different.’ Just make them feel at home,” she said, referring to what she tells residents.
Director of Nursing Diane Azeez notes Kluzinski’s “compassion is amazing” and is dedicated to her residents.
Kluzinski recalls a resident she built a close relationship with at the center. They had to undergo an amputation and therapy, and after some time, were able to walk. They found Ilona to be a trusted person that they wanted to walk with, and often would do so with her guidance.
“I’m here for you,” she tells them.