January 22, 2020

Four Decades of Service

After 41 years of serving thousands of community members, our longest tenured employee has decided to turn in her scrubs and badge. To put her longevity and dedication into perspective, Linda Blackey, Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA), has worked at Concord Regional VNA for more than a third of the agency’s 120 years of existence.

“The clients and the staff who work here is what makes it so special,” she said, reflecting on more than four decades of service to Concord Regional VNA and the community. “I cannot even begin to describe the feeling. They are always there to support you. If you have a problem, they will help you. It has just been such a wonderful place to work.” 

Linda served through four administrative office moves and worked with four different chief executive officers. She was employed during monumental changes in healthcare and our agency.

“When I started in 1978, we had about 20 employees,” she explained. “We did not work weekends, we did not work holidays, and we did not work nights. I think we saw three to four clients a day. We did not have cell phones, pagers, or computers.”

“Today, the agency operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with about 400 employees,” Linda added. “I saw about six clients per day. We had a lot of clients;
we needed the coverage and they needed the care.” As an LNA, she helped clients with personal care, meal preparation, exercise, vital signs, and companionship. Through the years, her role as an LNA expanded nearly coinciding with shorter hospital lengths of stays and an increasing number of clients who have chronic health conditions.

“Over time, the Board of Nursing increased our scope of practice,” Linda said. “LNAs are allowed to provide specific care that only nurses were allowed to perform. We can provide wound care, catheter care, and remind patients to take their medications. There are just so many things we can do now compared to when I started.”

Memories for a Lifetime
Most of Linda’s clients were short-term clients for rehabilitation. “We saw them for a couple of months, and they progressed until they were well enough to provide their own care and everything they need to do,” she said. “It’s always nice to know that someone has progressed to the point that they don’t need us anymore.”

“I remember caring for a 108-year-old gentleman who was proud that he returned to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for his class reunion each year,” Linda said. “He was also proud of the fact that he passed a test to work with Thomas Edison. He was an interesting gentleman, and knew Thomas Edison and would tell stories about him.” “He turned down Thomas Edison’s job request to become a successful patent lawyer,” she added.

Being an in-home caregiver is mixed with positive and challenging moments that provided reminders that there are people in the region who have needs that many of us take for granted. 

“You never know what you are going to find when you walk through the door,” Linda said. “You see a lot of sad situations. You do not realize how lucky you are until you walk into a home that has no food or no heat. We are so fortunate to have the things that are considered basic in necessity.”

Honor and Recognition
For her outstanding work and dedication to her clients, Linda was named the 2011 Home Care Licensed Nursing Assistant of the Year by the Home Care Association of New Hampshire
(now the Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care Alliance of NH).

“When brand new LNAs start, I paired them with Linda Blackey,” said Cindy Bergeron, RN, BSN, Director of Paraprofessional Services. “Who better to teach that role than the person who has lived it for 41 years? Who better to teach the little tips of the trade? Who better to teach the generational changes that we have had in healthcare? She has seen far more than I have ever seen.”

Thankful to Serve
Initially, Linda wanted to work a few more years, but decided to retire to help take care of her aging parents. 

“My parents are getting older, especially my mother,” she said. “Her health is declining rapidly. She is going to need more care as she ages. I want to make sure they are safe.”

Not only will she spend time as her parents’ caregiver, she is anxious to test her skills authoring a book for the first time.“I’m going to work on genealogy, and I plan on writing a book
about my family,” Linda said. “Concord Regional VNA has been a big part of my life for 41 years,” she added. “I just can’t imagine that I could have worked anywhere else. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of Concord Regional VNA.”