“Difference Makers” is a blog series highlighting many of the incredible employees at Catholic Charities NH, each making a positive and unique impact on the individuals, families and communities that we proudly serve.
Today, we meet Stephen MacKenzie, a high school English teacher by day and medication nursing assistant (MNA) at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Dover “by night” (though he mostly works the day shift).
How long have you worked at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center?
More than ten years! I joined St. Ann as a licensed nursing assistant (LNA) in January 2010, after having gone through the LNA program there in the summer of 2009.
What made you make a jump from education to healthcare?
I get asked that a lot and my response is usually something like, “It wasn’t all that great a leap. When I am teaching, I am serving kids. When I am at St. Ann, I am serving our seniors. It’s still human service.” I truly believe that one of our greatest responsibilities as members of the human race – and if we’re doing it right, one of our greatest joys – is to help improve the lives of those around us and try to leave the world a little bit better than we found it.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is jam-packed with many responsibilities, and even more so amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. When I work the day shift, by 9:30 or 10:00 a.m., I have usually taken the temperatures and oxygen levels for all residents on my wing so the LNAs can attend to other pressing resident needs. I have also likely done two or three blood sugar tests (noting those numbers and preparing the insulin pens for my supervising nurse), helped to distribute breakfast trays and feed residents, and completed a sixteen-person med pass. I may also have helped with some two-person transfers and other tasks. By the end of the shift, I generally have completed any required dressing changes, documented my med pass, treatments, and vitals, helped pass, feed, and collect lunch trays, written any necessary shift notes, fielded phone calls from family members looking to talk with or FaceTime with their loved one, placed an order to the pharmacy, helped replenish some of the over-the-counter meds and treatment supplies and so much more. There’s always a lot to do, but I love it all.
What do you enjoy most about working at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center?
Our incredible residents and colleagues. I work with some of the most amazing people in every department – whether it’s housekeeping, dietary services, maintenance, nursing or administration – and am constantly learning from them. And as a high school teacher, I love learning! We may be facing more pressure and challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we try to support one another, keep the mood as light as possible, and continue to serve our residents and patients in the manner they deserve. We always work hard. We work together, share the load and get the job done. No matter the stress, never once have I thought about walking out or quitting, because everyone else is working just as hard and is just as committed to their job as I am. St. Ann, being a Catholic Charities NH facility, makes all that even better. I am not Roman Catholic, but I am a practicing Christian, and I like working at a place that serves human needs and is grounded in Christianity.
What is one of your favorite memories working at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center?
I could write a book about my many fond memories at St. Ann (hum, maybe I will someday!), but one that jumps out at me is the time we had a rehab patient who spoke very little English. She was experiencing some significant pain but was having trouble communicating that. I overheard the conversation, went into the room and said, “Buenas tardes señora, cuantos dolor tienes y donde esta?” (Good afternoon ma’am, how much pain do you have and where is it?) I can still see her smile of relief that I spoke Spanish!
Describe St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in 3 words
Healthcare with love.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What are some of your hobbies?
I love to make music. I also like to garden, read, write and spend time with my wife. We puzzle, play cribbage, watch almost every Red Sox game, make s’mores at our fire pit, watch movies, and enjoy our flower and vegetable gardens. I have lived in New Hampshire all my life: born in Dover, raised in Rollinsford, live in Somersworth and I LOVE New Hampshire. But I really love to be at our winter home in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
What is your favorite book?
I would be hard-pressed to name “a” favorite book or movie, but for books, Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” or Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” would be near the top, along with “The Green Mile” and “Shawshank Redemption” on the movie side. Of course, I love a good Goldie Hawn or Bette Midler comedy, too.
What person do you admire most?
The person I most admire would be hard to narrow down to. I love Ronald Reagan’s belief that “it will always be morning in America.” But I have the greatest admiration and respect for both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. I cannot imagine our country without their love, dedication and sacrifice. Today, though, I must confess I would love to share a meal and visit with David Ortiz!
If you were to write a book above yourself, what would you name it?
I have written two books and am working on a third, but none are about my life – exactly. If I did write that book, maybe I’d call it “Here to Serve.”
What is one thing people might not know about you (or be surprised to find out)?
I’m not a very secretive person, but some people might be surprised to know that I did not start college until I was 36 years old. I received my BA in English at 39 and my MA in Literature at 40. I have taught at Somersworth High School ever since. I’m 62 now, so you can do the math.
Are you interested in becoming a key part of our team and helping others, like Stephen? Click here for our many openings in healthcare, social services, administration and more!