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It’s more than a job to Jose Martinez, a certified nursing assistant at Kachina Point Health Care and Rehabilitation Center.
By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

It’s more than a job to Jose Martinez, a certified nursing assistant at Kachina Point Health Care and Rehabilitation Center.

The Arizona Healthcare Association recently honored Martinez as Certified Nursing Assistant of the Year.

The AHA selected Martinez out of thousands of nominations from hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers and other health care agencies.

The award is given to CNAs with experience, knowledge and dedication who go “above and beyond their duties in terms of care to residents,” according to Mary Jo Reinke, the Kachina Point assistant director of nursing.

“A lot it came from input from the residents,” she adds. “We have residents in this facility that would specifically ask for [Martinez], which I think speaks highly of not only their respect for him, but also their sense of security with him,” Reinke says.

Martinez recently returned from the National Association of Healthcare Assistants Conven-tion in Joplin, Mo. where he received formal recognition for his achievement.

“It was very nice to share the experience with CNAs from all over the country,” he says.

“Sometimes I think that I really don’t deserve all of this attention, because everybody working here is so exceptional. I’ve been so pleased with Kachina Point,” Martinez says. “I’ve been given so much satisfaction with the department and my co-workers, the residents, everybody.”

Kachina Point also recognized Martinez as Employee of the Month in June and Employee of the Year in 2005.

“I will say that this facility has special recognition and respect for the certified nursing assistants, who really are the foundation of long-term care,” Reinke says.

Martinez takes a personal interest in the residents.

“He talks to them about things that are important to them and not just their therapy,” Reinke says.

“I try to treat all the residents not really as residents or patients, but as human beings,” Martinez says. “As human beings, we have a lot of necessities, a lot of needs that we have to meet.”

“I love him,” says 95-year-old Kachina Point resident Eleanor Conway. “He’s too young for me, but he makes me happy,” she jokes.

Martinez says that Eleanor was one of his first residents. He says that it gives him a good feeling to know that he’s able to help others live more comfortably.

“I’m just really happy to be here,” Conway says. “He’s so nice and smart and he knows what to do for old people,” she says. “He knows what to do when we need help. He takes good care of all of us and we’re grateful. A tragedy in Martinez’ own life drove him to become a CNA. When he was a teenager, he lost his father to a severe stroke.

“At that time, I couldn’t help him at all. I didn’t know what to do,” Martinez says.

He pauses for a moment and closes his eyes as if to remember that difficult time before he speaks again.

“I think that’s what pushed me to help people, when I couldn’t help my own father. Now I feel good because I know I have the ability to help people.”

Working in the medical field has given Martinez the opportunity to learn important skills, such as restorative nursing.

Reinke says that many residents need a lot of one-on-one attention due to their unique health issues. She explains that restorative nursing is designed to help the residents regain some of their strength and mobility.“That was the program that [Martinez] focused on,” she says. “I try my best to work with the residents so they can reach a higher level of independence,” Martinez says. “Sometimes little things like brushing your teeth, for them it’s a struggle to do it,” he explains.He feels that if he can help residents to live more safely, then he is fulfilling his goals as a CNA.Reinke explains that many residents who fall often fear challenging themselves for fear that they might fall again. “They feel a lot of safety when they work with Jose,” she says. Martinez tries to help relieve residents’ fears and restore their confidence. “I try to get rid of those feelings that they are going to fall again,” he says.Residents who leave Kachina Point sometimes return to thank Martinez for all that he has done for them. He likes to collect the notes and other tokens of appreciation that residents have given to him.He says that kind of appreciation gives him a personal satisfaction, but it is a feeling that he struggles to define. “It’s hard to express it, but you can feel it,” Martinez says.


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