By Starrla Cray
WATERTOWN, MN Warm welcomes have always been a part of Abbie McDonald’s career at Elim Rehab and Nursing Home in Watertown.
“I have a nice window in my office with a southern exposure,” McDonald said. “Residents like to come in, sit for awhile, and just take a little catnap.”
Now, after 14 years as administrator and many more as staff nurse, assistant director of nursing, and director of nursing it’s time for McDonald to say “goodbye.”
“I’m going to miss being here,” said McDonald, who is retiring Friday, Jan. 14. “I will miss the staff, residents, and their families.”
An open house in McDonald’s honor will take place at Elim Home’s main dining area (409 Jefferson Ave. SW) Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.
“Anybody can stop in,” she said.
McDonald’s “open-door policy” and genuine care for others have made her time at Elim Home a true joy.
“I think of the attachment I have to the residents,” she said. “A couple of them will be really hard to leave; some of them I admitted when I was director of nursing.”
McDonald started at Elim Home as a staff nurse in 1985. Throughout the years, she worked her way up to assistant director of nursing, director of nursing, and administrator.
McDonald, who grew up in Graceville, MN, always had a passion for long-term care. Her early experiences included serving as a home health aide and nursing home assistant.
From there, she attended college to become a registered nurse, and graduated from North Hennepin Community College in 1983.
Even though she no longer works as a nurse, McDonald still keeps her license up-to-date.
“It takes so much work to get that license,” she said. “I will never let that go.”
Being a former nurse has been useful for her job as administrator, McDonald said.
“I make decisions when needed, and having that medical background really helps,” she said.
The staff nurses report to McDonald on a daily basis, going through the residents’ needs. McDonald often makes what she calls “house rounds” to personally check on everyone living at Elim Home, as well.
“I know my residents on a first-name basis,” she said.
A few other administrative duties include keeping track of paperwork, bills, and financial reports.
McDonald has been training Corinne Allen to take her place as administrator.
“She really has a good history here,” McDonald said. “She’s very qualified.”
Allen started at Elim Home in 1982 as an LPN, and later became an RN, assistant director of nursing, and most recently, director of nursing. She also has an administrative license.
Allen will also be taking McDonald’s place on the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce.
Free time and fun
Even though she’s retiring, McDonald still plans to be involved in helping make others’ lives better.
“This is payback time time for me to help all the people who’ve helped me,” she said.
McDonald is a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Watertown, and hopes to become involved in the funeral committee.
“They are so wonderful,” she said, explaining that the committee has been there for her family in times of need.
McDonald is also involved in Watertown’s Commission on Aging, representing Woodland Township.
In addition to being active in the community, McDonald takes time to build close relationships with her family.
She and her husband, Philip “Flip,” have lived in the Watertown area since 1964. They have five children and seven grandchildren.
“The grandchildren are getting to the age where they’re in school activities, and I want to be there for that,” McDonald said.
Another hobby McDonald is excited to pursue is flower gardening, and, if she has time, she might even do a little house cleaning.
“Maybe I’ll take time to sweep the kitchen floor, but it depends what else I have going on,” she joked.