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HONESDALE—Kathy Gouldsbury loves her job.
As director of social services at Ellen Memorial Healthcare Center in Honesdale, she’s responsible for much of the paperwork that keeps the place moving, but what makes her face light up is the people.
“I love days with lots of visitors,” she said in her office recently. “I love seeing a resident and their family hanging around in the lobby and watching the fish. I love that they’re not cooped up in a room. There’s more to Ellen Memorial than just being in a bed.”
A resident of Throop, Gouldsbury was born in Dickson City, and graduated from Marywood University with a BA in health services administration. She and her husband Robert have been married 21 years and have a son, who is now at Keystone College. Gouldsbury has worked for Ellen Memorial for 20 years—more than half the time that the 35-year-old center has even been in operation. “I feel like I’ve grown up here,” she said.
Sometimes she “crashes activities,” she said. “Go into the beauty shop. Watch people playing the piano, with the residents standing around them.”
Working—or living—in long-term care isn’t easy. When new residents arrive, they have to adjust to a new place and new people, to living away from their families. And when many of them finally depart, it’s a whole other level of sadness. Part of Gouldsbury’s job is to help residents and loved ones with these transitions.
“Our owners, the Zabady family, want a homelike environment,” Gouldbury said. “It makes people feel comfortable.”
She couldn’t do it without her team. Many of the staff have worked there for decades. “I have a fantastic team,” she said. “They’re a good group of people who work well together.”
“Kathy’s been here forever,” said administrative assistant Elise Burlein with a smile. “She’s one of our star employees, and goes above and beyond.”
But to hear Gouldsbury talk, that level of commitment isn’t a chore, it’s a pleasure, and the rewards are profound. “The best thing—one of the best things—is when residents go out with their families. And then they come back, they walk in, and they smile when they see us — happy to be out with their families, and then happy to be home.