If you had to have a soundtrack to the work-life of Comprehensive Care Center Director of Nursing Kirsten Chipps, you’d probably hear the disco anthem “We Are Family.”
That’s how Kirsten – and so many other employees –describe the atmosphere of the skilled nursing facility on Third Street. And they’re not just talking about themselves; they include the dozens of long-term residents who are cared for round-the-clock.
“This is their home,” Kirsten says of long-term residents. “This is where they live. I feel like it’s a privilege to get to come here every day and see the same people day in and day out.”
She’s worked stints in the acute hospital’s Medical-Surgical ward, before transitioning to geriatric care.
“With acute care, you never have the same patients,” she explains. “You’re lucky if you have the same patients two days in a row. The turnaround time for those patients is pretty quick. They either go to a skilled nursing facility, or they go home.”
At the CCC, however, many of the residents have been there for years; some for decades.
For about 17 years early in her career, Kirsten was working in an entirely different profession – she was in banking and investments. At first, she was a teller and rose to become operations manager. But she always desired to become a nurse.
Before her banking career, she had already attended Allan Hancock College after graduating from Cabrillo High School and completed a year at UCSB.To follow her dream, Kirsten began taking classes and earned her Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. She began work at the CCC in 2008 while on the waiting list for nursing school. She eventually earned her LVN and then, became a Registered Nurse. She more recently completed her Master of Science in Nursing leadership and management.
Once she completed her RN, she followed the advice of her nursing instructors and spent some time working in the Medical-Surgical unit in 2013. But it wasn’t what she wanted. Instead, she preferred the CCC.
“There was always something pulling me,” she said. “When I got back here, it was the same residents. There is something about this environment that people just love. They are drawn to these residents. All they want to do is give them the best care that they possibly can. You can see it.”
For many of the CCC workers, the residents are a second family. They help celebrate birthdays, comfort during sad times, and are pleased when something happy occurs for a resident. Though laughter and good times are plentiful, Kirsten’s job also includes making sure all policies and procedures are met.
“Long-term care is one of the most highly regulated industries,” she notes. “We ensure the residents are getting the care they are supposed to be getting.”
Kirsten willingly speaks about why an individual or family should consider the Comprehensive Care Center as a place to consider receiving care.
“Why the CCC? This place is amazing,” she says. “The staff go above and beyond to ensure the residents are getting the best care they can get. Their heart and soul is in this place. The residents feel that. You can hear residents and staff interacting, with hugs and ‘I love you's.’ It’s such an amazing environment. People thrive in that. If they know that there are people here who care about them, they’re going to want to wake up in the morning. I always think to myself, this isn’t a place to come to die, it’s a place to come to live.”