Barb Anderson, RN, BS, MS, suited up in PPE during her temporary nursing stint at The Danish Home of Chicago.

We all “get by with a little help from our friends.” At The Danish Home of Chicago, a boutique retirement community in Norwood Park, friends provided more than a little help when busy staff needed it most.

Fortunate to have personal ties to trained medical professionals, nursing staff at The Danish Home gratefully enlisted their temporary help during long shifts, COVID protocol, and year-end holidays.

Particularly resourceful was Amy Swanson, RN, BSN, MS, and instructor of certified nursing assistant (CNA) and medical terminology courses in Maine Township High School District 207. Receiving a request for a job reference from a CNA student, Lauren Staunton, Amy gave the recent high school graduate more than she asked for.

“When I contacted her, Mrs. Swanson asked me if I’d be interested in temporary CNA work at The Danish Home,” said Lauren. “I told her ‘of course I’m interested!’ I needed money over winter break, and a few days later, on December 24th, I had my first day on the job.” Between December 24 and January 20, Lauren took only two days off and often worked double shifts.

The serendipitous connection between Amy and her student was beneficial for all, including The Danish Home staff, residents and Lauren, who earned CNA certification and eight hours of college credit from Amy’s class. Currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Lauren is studying human biology and would like to become a doctor.

“I jumped on the opportunity when Lauren reached out to me,” said Amy, whose husband, Scott, is president and CEO of The Danish Home. “

“She was an excellent student all around and made sure things were done right both during clinicals and while she was working at The Danish Home.” Amy also praises another student CNA for her rapport with residents. “I credit both girls for taking the time to join us; the staff was very happy with both of them.”

Another opportune link to Amy was her good friend and former Harper College colleague Barb Anderson, RN, BS, MS. Retired from a 45-year nursing career, Barb was only too happy to help out at The Danish Home, where her mother-in-law, Evelyn Kapicka, is a resident.

“It was like riding a bike,” said Barb of returning to familiar nursing duties at The Danish Home. “The only difference was learning their routines.” Even more than helping the “very supportive” regular staff, Barb relished the opportunity to converse with residents and get to know them better.

“I was able to have human contact with them, which they couldn’t have with their families,” she said. Though she was decked out in PPE to the point where her own mother-in-law didn’t recognize her at first, Barb considers her time at The Danish Home extremely meaningful.

“I am still thinking about the whole experience,” she remarked. “I’m so glad The Danish Home reached out to me and had confidence in me. If they need me anytime, all they have to do is call!”

Also glad for the help from friends of The Danish Home is director of nursing Cecilia Ramos. Experienced extensively in various medical settings, Cecilia is on call for residents 24/7. She greatly appreciated the respite she received from temporary staff during a particularly busy time.

“Everyone enjoyed working here,” said Cecilia, whose five years at The Danish Home have quelled her initial concerns that the community of approximately 40 residents was too small. “I know our residents here from head to toe; they have become part of my family. And that is a very good thing.”