ST. MARYS, Georgia: August 23, 2021 – When COVID-19 spread across the globe, no one could have predicted the impact it would have on our daily lives, from wearing masks and social distancing to remote learning and working. One of the most affected populations were residents at senior care centers and assisted-living facilities.
Keeping their spirits up while also protecting their physical health was a challenge and required all hands on deck to ensure that residents’ daily lives remained as “normal” as possible. Fortunately at Senior Care Center-St. Marys, team members such as Cynthia Oakes, BSBA, help to keep the ship sailing smoothly even in choppy water.
“Cynthia is organized, professional, talented, and very valuable to our team,” says Rhondia Grant, LNHA, administrator, Senior Care Center-St. Marys. “I don’t know how we would manage without her diligence and eye for detail.”
A team member at the Senior Care Center-St. Marys since Christmas Eve of 2012, Cynthia has adapted to wearing many hats through the years. Her role encompasses both office assistance to Grant and clerical assistance to Patient Accounts. During any given day, she manages the resident trust fund, makes time corrections, processes facility payables and resident payments, maintains team member and resident files, takes meeting minutes, completes summary reports, verifies insurances, prepares report data for Federal and State agencies, and most recently, helped to prepare and submit a state-funded reimbursement grant request, which was “gratefully” approved.
“I love that my job is varied,” says Oakes. “Much of what I do helps to proactively prepare for State surveys and insurance audits, so we can achieve successful outcomes.”
In 2016, her diligence and eye for detail certainly paid off. Oakes was part of the small team application submission effort that resulted in the center receiving the National Quality Award: Bronze, Commitment to Quality. In addition to her professional achievements, Oakes is proud to have returned to college as a working mom, earning her bachelor’s degree, and also proud of her family. “I am blessed to have three sons and one daughter, three daughters-in-law, and one grandson,” says Oakes, “And thankful to have been married to my husband since 1984.”
Originally from Southern California, Oakes’ work ethic began at a young age: her very first job was babysitting a newborn when she was only in seventh grade. Since then, she’s worked as a retail clerk, a school system after-care program supervisor, a real estate clerical worker, an agency clerical temp, an online customer service representative and a medical specialist office employee.
In her free time, her hobbies and interests are just as varied as her professional experience. She enjoys reading fiction, watching Netflix, visiting museums, thrift store shopping, and sewing and crafting items for gifts.
“One summer when I was living with my grandmother in Kansas, I won a ribbon for my sewing entry at the county fair,” exclaims Oakes. “But what really gives me joy is my faith. I’m grateful to have the ability to find hope and humor even when circumstances seem dreadfully foreboding.”
That rare and priceless ability has been a treasured asset to the Senior Care Center-St. Marys staff and residents over the past year, when the rise in COVID-19 cases truly were foreboding.
“Thankfully, the Coronavirus vaccine came to us in a critical time, allowing us to both protect the physical health of our residents and improve their emotional well-being,” says Grant. “With the vaccine now available to everyone—residents, team members and loved ones alike—we can finally reunite residents with their family and friends with minimal risk to spreading the virus. It’s so critical for the community to be vaccinated, allowing us to keep our residents and their loved ones safe from COVID-19.”
The world is now gradually returning to a semblance of normalcy, and many can thank Oakes for her helping hand in surviving the storm.
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, two comprehensive Cancer Care Centers and multiple specialty care centers, including orthopedic and spine care, joint replacement, breast care, maternity, outpatient rehabilitation, sleep management and wound care. The Brunswick Campus Cancer Care Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and offers the only CyberKnife® M6 with MLC technology in Georgia. Additionally, the Southeast Georgia Physician Associates medical group includes more than 140 providers working in 20 different medical specialties at more than 50 locations. The Health System is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. For more information, visit sghs.org.