A part-time shahbaz at St. John’s Home, a mother to 3 children, and a student at Genesee Community College, Erika Lofton is a full time rock star at life. Erika began her journey at St. John’s three years ago and has been part of the shift from institutionalized nursing care to the small homes initiative. “At first, we were skeptical of the change. The chats with Charlie really helped us and opened our eyes; we knew we were going to be part of this great movement,” Erika states.
When Erika first began, she had a caseload of roughly 15 residents. “It never slowed down.” Today, Erika takes care of a maximum of 8 residents at a time, allowing her to spend 1:1 time with residents and not have to constantly be checking the clock. “I have a good block of time I can spend with a particular resident. Despite the facility size of St. John’s, you are not just a number.”
For eight years, Erika has worked as an LPN at various nursing facilities throughout the area. As a student at GCC, Erika is continuing her education to become a registered nurse with a dual major in math and science. She plans to attend SUNY Brockport to complete her bachelor’s degree. “Long-term care has always been my passion,” Erika says. “I believe geriatrics and the older population have lived their life and they need a grand exit like babies need a grand entrance.”
Erika’s spirit and contagious energy are apparent no matter where she is in the building. She is involved in the Employee Activities Committee, a peer mentor for new nursing staff members, and a role model to all staff. “Your first impression lasts a lifetime,” Erika states. Erika remembers when she started at St. John’s and how helpful her peer mentor Marvia Simpson was, and still is to this day.
One of the challenges Erika has faced deals with the staffing turnover rate. “I figured the new employees were not getting the welcoming feeling or training they needed. I thought maybe if I could show them the right way and be that resource for them, they would be more likely to stay.” When her administrator told her about the peer mentor program, Erika saw it as an opportunity to help others. “It’s important to remember we were all in that new position at one point and in my personal experience, I’m more inclined to feel welcomed if there is a friendly face.”
As for the most rewarding part, it is simply two words – thank you. “I just love hearing thank you,” Erika says smiling. Earlier this month, Erika was chosen to attend the annual nursing recognition luncheon held at the DoubleTree. “There were a lot of nurses in that room. I felt so honored.” Erika realizes the room for advancement for her and her peers at St. John’s and is always willing to help out in anyway needed. “It’s all about the experience – you can’t put a price on that.”