Advocate for McGuffey Healthcare residents to retire after 43 years

After graduating from college and preparing to embark on her career, Donna Wright trusted that God would place her where she belonged. Fortunately, that place has been McGuffey Healthcare for 43 years. At the end of this month, Donna will retire and leave behind a legacy of commitment to our residents.

“Her presence will definitely be missed,” said April Conley, McGuffey Healthcare’s administrator. “Her energy, smile, laugh and guidance. She inspires other employees through her commitment and dedication.”

Donna serves as our facility liaison, but has held several roles over the years including activity director, floor administrator, risk manager, and administrator. When she earned her degree in social work from the University of Alabama, the Gadsden-native knew she was a “people person” who enjoyed helping others. She was hired by McGuffey as a social worker and successfully translated this trait to her role. In 1994, she was named Social Service Professional of the Year by the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

“I was proud because the residents were the ones who wrote letters stating how what I did made their lives more abundant and fulfilling,” Donna said.

Rewarded by smiles

Donna said people often question her about working in a nursing home and wrongly presume her job is depressing. She always lets them know that this is not the case because she accepts residents as they are and works to help them be the best they can be. She also helps people understand that McGuffey is not just a healthcare facility, it’s our residents’ home and should be treated as such.

“I have always been an advocate for the resident. I loved to see smiles on their faces and to give hugs to let them know someone cares,” she said.

Some of Donna’s favorite memories are from her time spent as the activity director. Residents were always busy with events such as the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant and gospel concerts on National Grandparents Day or trips to Noccalula Falls for picnics and Chattanooga to visit the Tennessee Aquarium.

Among the highlights is a trip to Camp ASCCA (Alabama’s Special Camp for Children and Adults). The 3-day summer camp experience on Lake Martin gave residents a chance to enjoy nature and share a priceless reward.

“It was hard, hard work but seeing [the residents] smile, laugh and truly enjoying themselves was worth it,” Donna said.

More time for family

When she leaves,Donna admits that she will miss the residents, her “wonderful” co-workers as well as the case managers and social workers she works with in the community. However, she is excited about the days ahead. She and her husband, Nelson, have been married for 41 years. About two years ago, their son, Andy, and daughter-in-law, Mandy, made them grandparents.

“I plan on enjoying my home on the lake, traveling, but most of all, spending time with my family. Especially my grandson, Charlie,” Donna said.

We at McGuffey Healthcare hope Donna’s retirement will never be short on moments filled with rewarding smiles. We are grateful to have had her with us for 43 years and congratulate her on a job well done.