Dedicating 45 years to Wesley Homes residents

Celebrate your nurses during National Nurses Week: May 6th – May 12th   LaVonne Mahugh’s nursing career started in the early 1950s when she graduated from Jamestown   College in North Dakota. She said jokingly, “At that time, women had two career choices: to be teachers or nurses, and I didn’t want to be a teacher.”   After graduation, she began work as a nurse in South Dakota and then moved to Washington, D.C., to work at Children’s Hospital. LaVonne returned to the west, specifically to Fargo, North Dakota, where she spent four months. She then returned to Washington, D.C., and worked at the National Institute of Health right at the end of the polio era. Following Washington, D.C., LaVonne and her husband moved to Bozeman, Montana. At that point, she took 12 years off to raise their children.   The relationship between Wesley Homes and Lavonne began in 1968 when she started working part-time on the Monday and Tuesday graveyard shift. In time, LaVonne became one of the many full-time nursing staff members at Wesley Homes.   LaVonne loves the field of nursing because of the positive and nurturing impact that nurses have in peoples’ lives. She expresses those same feelings toward Wesley Homes. The atmosphere at Wesley Homes is very caring, compassionate and full of energy, and LaVonne really enjoys being a part of the residents’ ability to age in place. The appreciation and contributions of the time and energy residents, patients and staff share with one another is exciting.   Currently, LaVonne works part-time on weekends in the Wellness Nurse Office, which covers The Gardens and The Terrace. Though the wellness nurses don’t dispense even over-the-counter medication due to state laws, they provide several valuable functions, including consultations, peace of mind to residents and their families and promotion of positive and active lifestyles. LaVonne is humble about the time she dedicates to the residents, and she deeply enjoys consulting with independent residents to understand the best medical option on a variety of issues. For example, she helps residents to determine if their medical issue is an emergency or best handled by the resident’s doctor the following week.   LaVonne feels very blessed to work with the residents and staff at Wesley Homes. She loves how the nursing profession has always been so fulfilling. She values that in her 48-year nursing career she has provided a useful and helpful role to patients.   She holds dear the fact that Wesley Homes wants to use her years of expertise in nursing to assist residents; she especially enjoys being the Wellness Nurse for resident outings. “The resident outings are a great way for residents to carry that sense of community, confidence and independence with them off campus,” said LaVonne. “They share a camaraderie that is inspiring.”   She’s accompanied residents to Seaside, Hells Canyon and the Rose Parade in Oregon; Leavenworth, Lake Chelan and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington; and a cruise to Alaska.   “I like to travel,” said LaVonne, “so the resident outings are really fun for me. There’s just one downside – they haven’t gone to Africa yet!”   Through LaVonne’s personal contacts with Wesley Homes’ residents she has experienced how extremely engaging, interesting and gracious the residents are. They show every day how to age gracefully and with dignity; the residents are an excellent example of how we should all live. By Steve Whitaker