Volunteer, employee at Kingston Nursing Center voted two of state's best

Written by Ettie Newlands (This story was originally published on March 31, 2016 by Waccamaw Publishers)

Irises, geraniums, a century plant, birdfeeders, benches and rocking chairs, even a flowing fountain with stepping stones leading up to it are features that residents of Kingston Nursing Center can go outside to enjoy or just look out of their windows and see the beauty that God has provided.

The two gardens, one with a Southwestern flavor and the second with more traditional South Carolina flora, are thanks to Naomi Sapir, whose efforts were applauded at the nursing center, behind Conway Medical Center, by a statewide organization that advocates for seniors.

Also, at a brief ceremony at the nursing center where seniors enjoyed ice cream, punch and cake, the Leading Age of South Carolina awarded Lori Haithcock for the special care she gives to all of her patients.

The awards were presented by Rob Lee, chairman of the Awards Committee for LeadingAge, who said all of his association’s 35 members were asked to make nominations for the statewide winners. Awards were given in nine categories.  Lee said Kingston Nursing Center has a reputation for giving good care and, he added, “It’s a wonderful place.”  He said his organization recognizes outstanding people in the field of elder care.

Haithcock was given the Excellence in Caring Award because, according to Lee, she is a caregiver who has demonstrated exceptional skills, both professional and interpersonal.  He used Gal. 6:9-10 to describe Haithcock.  “For Lori, no challenge is too large,” he said. “She goes above and beyond for her elders by doing special things for them.”

Haithcock started working as a nurse at Kingston Nursing Center 20 years ago when she was only 20-years-old.  “I never imagine when I started here that I would ever be here that long...I’ve grown up here,” she said, adding that during her tenure at KNC, she has gotten married and given birth to a daughter.

Haithcock said she thinks her patients appreciate the one-on-one care she offers.  “I have that bond. I want that bond with them. I want them to know that they can ask for anything,” she said.  KNC administrator Laura Fowler agrees that Haithcock is a special nurse. "Lori has just a special way of connecting with each individual elder...She’s such a great example,” she said.  Haithcock adds that she can tell folks something about every one of the patients that she cares for.  Fowler said she never worries when she’s away from KNC if she knows that Lori will be on “the care line.”

Lee said Sapir understands that the patients’ needs often go beyond just direct care and giving medication.  She tries to help solve problems and bring residents’ concerns to the table.  Lee described her using Prov. 11:25, adding that she sweat in the summer sun to plant the two gardens for the elders to enjoy.  Sapir has volunteered at Conway Medical Center for 10 years and has been encouraging patients at KNC for three years now.

In regard to volunteering, she said, “I think it’s the most wonderful thing you can do. A volunteer is someone who wants to do it. You don’t have to do it. It’s not a job.”  She said she enjoys giving of herself to people who might not have someone to love or care for them.  She holds a degree in medical technology and has been employed in that field.  “Volunteering has been her spirit for her whole life,” her daughter Fran Sapir said. 

Sapir is pleased that the residents enjoy the gardens.  “It’s a never-ending process, but something we like,” she said.  “I think it’s because it gives the residents so much pleasure.”

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