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Emporia Manor Administrator Bill Belmonte, left, and Director of Marketing, Juanita Jefferson flank the portrait of Jefferson in the lobby of Emporia Manor.

Since Sept. 12, 1977, Juanita Jefferson has worked at Emporia Manor. Nearly 42 years later she has been honored with her portrait now hanging in the lobby of the facility.

“It’s not because of how long she has worked here,” Emporia Manor Administrator Bill Belmonte said. “It’s what she does and the impact she has had on the overall culture of the company.”

In her spare time Jefferson also serves as a minister at Kingdom. Church in Emporia. It’s position she has held for 20 years. It is a position that influences the way she handles her duties at Emporia Manor.

Jefferson was recently promoted as the new marketing director for Emporia Manor. She said she would have to sleep on it when offered the position, but came back the next day and readily accepted. As marketing director Jefferson travels to various facilities, interacts with social workers, dispatch planners and residents.

Jefferson has served in many capacities during her tenure at Emporia Manor. She is an LPN, has been the MDS coordinator and is now marketing director. Jefferson’s role has changed through the years as has Emporia Manor and the nursing home profession.

Jefferson said Emporia Manor was a place with older residents and the facility was for on site custodial care. As time progressed Emporia Manor began accepting residents suffering from dementia, multiple sclerosis and other setbacks. Currently Emporia Manor services include Tracheostomy and Gastostromy Tube feeding. Emporia Manor is currently a clinically complex care site, much different than the custodial care facility it was in the 1970s.

Belmonte said long-term care really changed dramatically about 20 years ago when patients would stay in hospitals for 20 to 30 days. Now hospital stays are much shorter and many leaving the hospitals after short stays use the services of Emporia Manor and other long-term care facilities.

Jefferson has seen the dramatic changes in nursing care, but she has adjusted well through the years. Her philosophy on dealing with residents may be a reason she has adjusted well to changes.

“I treat people as I want to be treated and that’s with dignity and respect,” she said. “I have a heart for older people and I want to make sure they are taken care of.”

Jefferson has now been recognized for what she has meant to Emporia Manor through the years with her portrait hanging in the lobby. Belmonte said the idea originally came for corporate and it is well deserved.

“I’ve worked in Tidewater to the mountains and overseen more than 1,000 people,” Belmonte said. “And right here in my hometown there is Juanita Jefferson who won my heart over and won the hearts of people over at Emporia Manor for many years. Her positivity and influence is the best I’ve ever been around. Her portrait will probably be the only portrait in the lobby of Emporia Manor. There is only one Juanita. That’s the way I see it.”

Apparently it is the way the corporate office and her fellow employees see it as well. They see Jefferson as Emporia Manor’s blessing and her portrait in the lobby is a reminder what she means to the facility.