Careers in Aging: Mary Watkins, Director of Nursing

Careers In Aging Week

Mary has worked at Wolfe County Health and Rehabilitation Center for 29 years, starting in 1993. She began as a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked at the facility as she finished the Registered Nurse program at Lees College in Jackson, KY. At Wolfe County, she has held many positions, including Charge Nurse, Unit Supervisor, Clinical Coordinator, MDS Coordinator, and currently Director of Nursing. She has dedicated most of her life to caring for the elder population. Due to COVID-19 and the lack of well staff at times she volunteered to work as a charge nurse and nurse aide to care for her facility’s residents.
Mary has always been a strong advocate for her resident’s overall well-being, making sure all their needs are met not just physically but also mentally and spiritually. She has been a friend to many residents over the years bringing them fun items that they would not have normally received otherwise such as special candy, clothes, perfume, yarn, puzzles, books, and lotions. Over the years, she made sure residents received Christmas and birthday presents when they did not have family to buy special gifts for them. She makes it a point to become familiar with the residents’ personal choices. She has always been a strong advocate for person-centered care and consistent care assignments. Mary makes her residents feel as though they are loved and gives them her total attention. She encourages them to be as independent as possible. Residents and families have witnessed her strong compassion and empathy. She has a way of calming and reassuring families and residents when they are making the tough decision to place their loved one into the nursing facility. 

Mary has worked tirelessly to manage the nursing department during the pandemic, sacrificing many long hours of personal time to ensure adequate staffing. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when the facility was shut down to visitors, she had her pastor come and pray for the facility’s residents and staff. She also helps elder individuals in her community that may call on her for assistance as it relates to their help concerns. She often takes food to her church elders, helps them manage their medication, and give them sound spiritual and medical advice. 

Prior to becoming a nurse, Mary owned a small grocery store. Even then she showed her compassion, love, and generosity toward others. Her compassion towards long term care has encouraged others to enter the field. Many have referred to her as an Angel on this Earth!
Mary is a mother of two, and Nan of 5 grandchildren plus a bonus grandchild. She has dedicated her life for the service of others. It takes individuals like Mary who possess a life-long dedication and compassion for the elderly population to truly make a difference in their lives. The residents and staff genuinely treasure her. She is a tremendous positive influence and has a way of bringing out the best in people. She goes above and beyond in her volunteer work in the community and her facility. Mary has gone above and beyond in the field of elder care for almost 30 years.