Dream comes true thanks to Fountains
MILLBROOK — “When COVID-19 hit, Tiffany was the first caregiver to raise her hand and say she would care for our COVID-positive residents,” said Executive Director at The Inn at The Fountains Linda Lomangino. “During this time she signed up to live on our property and worked 12-hour shifts daily under difficult circumstances as residents were separated from their families and each other.”
That’s high praise indeed, for a young lady who is just barely 20 years old — especially since it came from her boss at The Inn at The Fountains in Millbrook, an independent-living retirement community not far from where Tiffany Becker herself lives in Salt Point.
Becker was only 17 when she began working part-time in the kitchen at The Inn, a job she said she loved because of her appreciation for the nurses and caregivers there.
She also loved the patients she served and got to know while working there. That’s the primary reason why she decided to continue on at The Inn, and was determined to become a nurse. Becker is now enrolled in the Dutchess BOCES School of Practical Nursing in Poughkeepsie.
Her direct manager at The Inn, Lomangino, BSN, RN, wrote a letter to the Empire State Association of Assisted Living, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening New York State’s assisted living sector. She nominating Becker for a nursing scholarship to help finance her studies.
In her letter, Lomangino stated the following:
“The pandemic year 2020 brought out the best and worst in people. I am sure you are aware of the staffing struggles that COVID-19 put upon the long-term care communities. Many assisted living associates were not up to the challenge of working in an environment with an unknown virus. The Inn at Millbrook was fortunate to employ people who not only rose to the expectations, but thrived during that time.
“Miss Tiffany Becker was one of those people. Tiffany is one of my caregivers who listened, observed protocols, and worked diligently to ensure the health and safety of our residents. She volunteered to work directly with our COVID-positive residents on a 12-hour shift. Tiffany lived on our campus for weeks to be available, even on her time off, if we found a shift that needed more staff. She always showed professionalism in her work. Tiffany’s demeanor and work ethic surprised me at times because she was still only a teenager.”
Becker is proud to be the recipient of the annual award, named in honor of Benay Phillips, a leader in the assisted living industry and an advocate for staff training. The program that allots $2,000 and is in its 14th year.
She is also very grateful to the nurses at The Inn, who often help with her studies. She thinks it’s their support that encouraged her to pursue nursing.
She will finish her studies this spring. While working during the worst of the pandemic might have deterred some people, it only strengthened Becker’s resolve to remain in the field.
“The Inn is small, and we were all very close; the patients had no access to their families or each other,” she said. “It must have been so hard for them, and they must have been scared; we wore masks, PPE, with face shields and long gowns. There was no community life, no activities, just full-out isolation.”
Becker added the staff did whatever it could to comfort patients, which for her included not going home to nearby Salt Point for six months for fear of bringing the COVID virus to her family. The Inn lost six of its residents to the disease, a loss keenly felt by all.
“It was like losing family members, we were that close,” said Becker sadly.
She added she loves working with the elderly, not just because she likes caring for them, but for practical reasons as well.
“You can learn so much from them,” said the enthusiastic nursing student. “Working with the elderly there are a variety of conditions that you need to learn about: How to treat wound care and diseases specific to the elderly, but also [those] found in younger patients.”
Although not certain of her plans after graduation, Becker knows the base foundation of knowledge she’s received at The Fountains has provided her with a well of information in the fields of nursing and healthcare that will prove invaluable as she moves through life. For that, she said, she will always be grateful.