Happner and Claybundy

Karrene Heppner, left, and Carrie Claybundy, are ready to serve Good Samaritan Society — International Falls.

The new administrator at The Good Samaritan Society – International Falls is no stranger to the area and is hopeful to continue building a strong team at the facility.

Carrie Claybundy earlier this month stepped into the position of the site’s administrator, and as someone who is from the area, she said she is looking forward to building the network and ties she has already established in the community.

“I’m rooted here,” the Birchdale native said. “I love being here... my family is here.”

Claybundy earlier this month talked to The Journal, along with Karrene Heppner, director of nursing, and Wade Peterson, executive director, about goals for the facility and how they continue to keep staff and residents safe as they navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest thing I think the public should be aware of is how cautious we’ve been since the pandemic started,” Heppner said. “Our residents are part of our extended family and we want to do what’s best for them in every aspect. We want to protect our staff also... safety of all has been our big focus.”

Heppner, who has been in her position since December, is also relatively new to the Good Samaritan team, and the two women believe their skills compliment each other nicely in moving forward.

“The two of us are going to be working very closely together to build team memberships in a way we want to see in a positive, fresh direction,” said Claybundy, adding they’ve worked together before.

Peterson said the addition of Claybundy, in a role that has experienced some turnover in the past few years, will be a positive one because of her commitment to Borderland.

“When the position opened up, we thought it would be great to find someone local who has ties to the community,” he said. “We’re excited to have her and her leadership.”

Forward moving

Claybundy started her career as a nursing assistant in the former Good Samaritan Society location on Highway 71 in International Falls. Working her way up the nursing and administration ladder, Claybundy said she has a passion working with senior citizens and is excited to continue her career in the community.

And while she helps serve the community, she knows there are challenges ahead.

“The pandemic is throwing things at us never faced in the modern day of this industry,” she said. “We are wading in uncharted territory.”

That being said, the support Good Samaritan and others have provided are what is keeping Claybundy, Heppner and others going in the right direction.

“The community should be excited to have a couple people like this to run the facility,” Peterson said. “These are the kind of people I like to work with... The quality of care these two women and others on our team provide put family’s loved ones in excellent hands.”

Goals

Looking at the coming days, weeks and months, Claybundy reiterated the challenges ahead, but noted specific goals in mind.

“My goal is continue to provide safe care within the facility with infection control in mind,” she said. “We are going to progress on team building and continue to recognize health care workers and their worth in the community... And that goes for everyone in this building — from nurses to our maintenance staff. Everyone wears capes in this building.”

Heppner agreed.

“We’ve had great previous leadership that has helped us get to where we are today,” she said. “Together, we’re going to continue building something great here.”

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