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August Nurse of the Month, Deb Langenberg

A Most Humble August Nurse of the Month

“An all-around magnificent nurse – advocating for those that can’t for themselves. Highly skilled, knowledgeable, compassionate and a lifelong learner always seeking new methods to improve healthcare in our facility.” 

During her 44 years at Heritage of Bel-Air, Deb Langenberg, MDS, LPN, has pretty much grown up in the Norfolk, Nebraska, nursing home. Starting as a volunteer in the kitchen at just 14-years-old, she got her first “real” job in the kitchen at 16. After receiving her LPN license, Deb became a Charge Nurse and eventually moved into a leadership role as MDS Coordinator. 

If you can imagine an ideal nurse, it’s Deb. She rarely calls in sick, helps with ADL tasks, laundry/housekeeping, and volunteers for facility activities. You can find Deb visiting resident rooms, chatting them up to meet both their health and holistic needs. She even consoles patients at end of life so they’re not alone, and is there for grieving family members too.

Why Nursing and LTC?

As a teenager, Deb didn’t know what career she wanted to pursue. Her mom worked at Heritage of Bel-Air as dietary supervisor and Deb would come in early to help before school. The Bel-Air administrator suggested she fill out an application for a paying job there – and she did! When she graduated high school, Deb continued working in the dietary department, until the Director of Nursing told her she’d be a great nurse – and the rest is history!

“I started as a Charge Nurse, on the day shift. I just loved the people, there is always a challenge! People think you do the same thing every day, but I can find a challenge every single day with every single resident – they each have different needs, wants, and family members. I just feel like they are part of my family. I like to treat every person like the most important person in my life, so this is my second home. I love where I work – and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

 A Problem Solver

Deb works closely with interdisciplinary teams to ensure the highest quality of care for residents and keeps resident family members involved in care plans. She’s always in search of exceeding the standard of care, reviewing the five-star rating at the state and national levels to figure out how Bel-Air can operate better. Deb also gets involved with Performance Improvement Process (PIP) teams to find solutions to improve care for pressure wounds, and reduce falls, and monitors the safety of team members, residents, and family members to be sure protocols are in place to prevent injury and promote safety.

 What’s Most Rewarding?

“A lot of things – residents and families, knowing that their loved one is getting the best care, the smile a resident gives you – even dressing them with a sweater – do that, and get a big thank-you!  That’s what I’m here for. It’s the same with families…you develop a close bond with them and they become family. They like to know they have people who they can trust to provide the best care possible. At the facility, we use feedback to make changes, to raise the bar and be the best. I feel residents and family members know that, so, it’s very rewarding. As I said, every day, I learn something new, even though I’ve been here for a while – it’s amazing.”

We’ve Come a Long Way

When Deb reflects where she started in LTC, she says a lot has changed. The market has expanded with different care settings – and thinks the misconception was “people thought it’s where you go to die.” Today, facilities are perceived as a home where residents allow staff to come in and take care of them. She believes that message is resonating through education. Assisted living is now credited with getting a resident to their highest level of independence. Today, residents are promoting facilities themselves telling friends and family about mastering abilities and independence. At Deb’s facility they have residents that come back and say if they have to do it again, it will be at Bel-Air. That makes her proud of what she and her team does.

Tech Improves Care for Patients

Deb started her career when documentation was done on paper and believes tech has enabled nurses to provide better care for residents because “data gives you a wholistic picture of the resident to develop a good care plan”. There’s no need to waste time and energy looking through four paper files when one digital file now makes it easier for nurses with everything at your fingertips.

Advice for a Career in Nursing?

Deb imagines in ten years she will still be working at Bel-Air with “people I love to work with,” but more involved with her grand children, daughters’ and family life.

When asked about advice for anyone interested in nursing she says to go for it! “It’s so rewarding and there are so many opportunities – it’s not just front-line staff, but other opportunities to learn and continue to learn because there is so much out there.”

We humbly thank our August Nurse of the Month for lighting the lives of others, while being a lifelong beacon of learning in nursing herself!

July 30, 2020