Susan McWhorter — Nurse Navigator Turned Director of Personal Care
As many are aware, Brandon Wilde is a designated LCS (Life Care Services) community, offering both Assisted Living (AL) and Independent Living (IL) options to over 400 residents, and staffed by over 200 employees, on its sprawling 73-acre wooded campus, in Evans, GA. What many may not be aware of, however, is that Brandon Wilde also offers a dedicated nurse navigator – a role which is often unknown or under-utilized across the country – who is available for all of its residents, and their families.
Nurse navigators come in all forms, and offer a full spectrum of services. Brandon Wilde’s director of personal Care, and previously its designated nurse Navigator, is Susan McWhorter. Susan has decades of experience in the medical field, having graduated from Ogeechee Technical School in 1999, and establishing a career in several areas of the healthcare arena, before joining Brandon Wilde in 2012.
Susan is responsible for developing a trusted rapport and care plan with Brandon Wilde residents and families; she serves as a conduit for all, helping to connect with specialists, other care providers, health and wellness opportunities, etc. Susan works with both Assisted Living (AL) and Independent Living (IL) residents at Brandon Wilde.
Among other responsibilities, and alongside current nurse navigator, Margaret Denniston, Susan works closely with the dietician to help develop personalized, healthy meal plans. She also works with the Life Enrichment manager to help with the overall plan for the resident’s individual wellness care. She coordinates and schedules appointments, works directly with health professionals to set up medical procedures, and can arrange transportation to and from doctor’s visits. Additionally, Susan collaborates with the current nurse navigator, and follows up on Brandon Wilde residents who were discharged from the health center, to ensure they have a smooth transition back home.
At Brandon Wilde, an on-site clinic is offered (think “urgent care light”) where questions about medical care access, upcoming procedures, and other health journey inquiries, can all be answered. There is also a nurse practitioner (NP) on-site five days per week, and an on-site, nurse-run clinic, three days a week.
Susan and the nurse navigator are available to staff, and family members alike, to answer questions, offer suggestions, and collaborate on all resident and healthcare-related issues at Brandon Wilde. On-site guest apartments are also available for use, by family members and visitors, when needed. All of these are important aspects of the LCS community, and compliment the nurse navigator role at Brandon Wilde.
A strong sense of logistics, careful planning skills, empathy, and a truly compassionate approach, are integral components of any nurse navigator, and director of personal care role, and Susan has these in spades. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for an entire year, she even lived in one of the on-campus apartments of Brandon Wilde.
In the early days of the pandemic, many healthcare professionals were working around the clock, stationed at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare settings. Their lives consisted of a repeat cycle of going from work to home, and home to work, all while scrubbing down and throwing their clothes in the washer, before entering their homes again (to avoid cross-contamination, and spreading Coronavirus to family members).
As a dedicated healthcare director, Susan went one step further. She actually lived on the Brandon Wilde campus, allowing her 24-hour access to tend to her role, and to assist with the needs of residents, all while creating a unique bond with other staff members and residents alike. Office renovations were also taking place during this time, which allowed her to be out and around more, and helped her to have “eyes” on everyone (a helpful benefit to her role). Susan even gave her personal cell phone number to those who needed it.
Among providing seemingly instant access to residents, and careful, routine reporting to family members who were then suddenly unable to visit their relatives, Susan’s daily ritual consisted of sharing evening dinner with well-known Brandon Wilde administrator, Larry Banks, and his son, Logan (and let’s not forget, their adorable dog, Wilbur!). She valued this time with her trusted Brandon Wilde colleagues, friends, and residents, who were, in effect, her “pandemic bubble”.
Needless to say, Susan went well beyond the scope of her role, to ensure a safe, healthy, and accessible environment, during the genesis of the pandemic. She humbly continues to do so, in her new role (though she now is able to return to the comfort of her own home, after finishing her day!). She still enjoys occasional dinners with Larry, Logan, and Wilbur, as they have now become a bit of a tradition; residents and their family members still have access to her cell phone, when and if they need it. Susan is truly the epitome of what it means to be a healthcare director, and is Brandon Wilde exemplified.
If you or your loved ones, are searching for an opportunity to move into Independent Living (IL) or Personal Care, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that Brandon Wilde, its staff, administrators, recently appointed nurse navigator, Margaret Denniston, and trusted director of personal care, Susan McWhorter, will all be at the ready to tend to your senior living needs, and to welcome you into their renowned LCS community. For more information, call 706-868-9800.