About a dozen Comprehensive Care Center employees have a funny nickname for themselves: Boomerangs. It’s not because of some affinity for the rotating hunting tool often associated with Australia. Instead, It’s a term of endearment, bestowed upon the staff who have worked for months or years at the CCC skilled nursing facility and left for some time before being lured back. They came back for a number of reasons — better hours, closer to family, career advancement. But one reason unites them all: they simply love working at the CCC.
Some of the boomerangs are Kirsten Ball, Janie Riley-McClain, Myralda Hulsizer and Candace Franco. “I grew up in Lompoc,” says Franco, a Certified Nursing Assistant. “I wouldn’t work anywhere else.”
She became a CNA in 2003 from a class at the CCC when she was just about to turn 20. She was hired at the facility and worked there for a decade. She transferred to the hospital for about three years from 2013 to 2016 and now she’s back at the CCC. “I literally grew up in this building,” she said. “I can walk this building with my eyes closed.”
Now Director of Staff Development, Hulsizer came to the CCC in 2005 as a traveling nurse and was hired permanently two years later. “After all the other jobs I had, when I came to work here as a traveler, this was the best place to work at,” she said. “Everybody was so into the residents. So I didn’t want to leave.”
She is so grateful, she said, that she was able to get hired as a staff nurse. “I didn’t want to leave,” Hulsizer said. “It felt like I would have to leave my family.” The nurses said they all cried at the times when they transferred to the hospital to work. To a one, they all say They stay because of each other, but mostly because of their love for the residents. Many of the 100 or so residents live out their lives in the facility, while others have short-term stays to recover from illnesses or operations.
“We have 100 grandparents here,” Hulsizer said. Franco laughs that she never went home with great stories when she was working at the hospital. “You establish relationships here,” she says. They talk about the past residents, and little jokes or quirks each of them had.
“We have the privilege of coming here every day to these people’s homes,” says Ball, a nurse manager. “It is a privilege. This is where they live.” Added Franco, “You feel more of the impact you put into their lives here.” She recalls with a smile one man who thought she was his granddaughter. The resident lectured Franco’s husband about treating her well, saying, “She’s my girl.” Riley-McClain was born in Lompoc and delivered by Dr. Wendell Jamison. She worked as a Licensed Vocational Nurse from 1995-98 and worked at the CCC as a registered nurse from 2004-2010. After six years at the hospital as an RN, she returned a year ago to the skilled nursing facility.
“You have 100 people in this building that are walking history books,” she said, speaking of residents and their lives. “Where do you have the ability to have all of that history and be able to let them sit and just talk about it?” Many of the staff stay friends with family members of residents, even long after the resident has passed away.
Some of the residents don’t have a family, and Ball explains, “We have the honor to be able to be that for them. And that’s beautiful … This is our home and we have the honor and the blessing to take care of our neighbors, and their paren