October 12, 2013

Citizen of the Week: Toni Thompson

The Daily Citizen

— Toni Thompson is “without a doubt, the most popular individual I have ever met,” says Ken DeFoor, executive director of Morningside of Dalton.

There’s a good reason that Thompson, the program service director at Morningside, recently received a hero award from the Georgia chapter of the Assisted Living Federation of America for her work. DeFoor nominated Thompson after he said he watched how she interacted with the residents and their families.

“Love — it is impossible to be successful in health care without it,” he wrote in his nomination letter to the organization. “Any success in health care can be directly related to the amount of love the individual shows the resident. Toni Thompson exudes oceans of love and compassion to every resident at Morningside regardless of what she has been through that day or what is going on in her personal life.”

On top of that, DeFoor said, she constantly looks for new ways to enhance the residents’ lives.

“She came to me one day and asked if she could use the van to drive the residents around the countryside,” DeFoor said. “The goal is to get the residents out of the building. This is one of many situations in which Toni has used her resources to enhance the residents’ lives.”

She also holds monthly resident council meetings in which residents can speak out on issues they have at the facility.

“In all my years of running long-term care communities, I have never had anyone step up and assist me in correcting the issues from this meeting like Toni,” DeFoor said. “She will not accept anything less than complete resolution to anything the residents have an issue with.”

DeFoor described Thompson as “always in a good mood, or at least fakes it well” and “full of positive energy.”

“In the two-and-a-half years since she has been at Morningside, I have never heard one negative word spoken about her,” he said.

In addition to creating programs for the residents, her heart shows through in other ways. A Morningside resident who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia recently needed medical care when she came down with pneumonia. Unfortunately, she refused to go to the hospital. Rather than calling an ambulance and authorities who could force the woman to go into care — which no doubt would have been a traumatic experience for the patient — Thompson took the time to coax her until she felt comfortable enough to go on her own. They then went to the hospital together.

For her caring heart, The Daily Citizen names Toni Thompson Citizen of the Week.