It’s personal connections and patient affection that make it clear this is no ordinary nursing job.

Lynn Guthrie walks down a short hallway to one of her favorite patient’s rooms. She’s the longest tenured nurse at ADEC, and many clients know her by name and explode with excitement when they see her.

“This is Richard,” she says, smiling and placing her hands on his shoulders. “Normally I see Richard on Thursdays but since I won’t get to this week, I wanted to make sure I saw him today.”

Every day at ADEC, our nurses have opportunities to interact and make connections with hundreds of clients. Since they are currently short staffed and hiring, days can be busy.

But never too busy to pass up rewarding client interaction.

Richard has stuffed animals on a shelf above his bed and watches the US Open on television while Guterie starts massaging his shoulders and head.

When she first met Richard, he was picking his hands. They came to an agreement, she would massage his shoulders and rub lotion on his hands if he stopped picking them.

Sometimes, the massages relax Richard so much that he falls asleep, which makes Guthrie laugh.

“You get paid to fall in love with people and receive affection back,” Guthrie said. “How can you say no to that?”

Sarah Ten Have and Katrina Vargas round out the ADEC nursing team. Yes, there are injections, checkups and physicals.

But that isn’t why they’re here. It never was. And it certainly isn’t why they’ve stayed.

“Our clients can sometimes be what makes your day. You can be having a bad day and walk in, and they look at you and you’re always welcome,” Vargas said. “They’re always happy to see you. Where else can you walk into a place and every single person is happy to see you?”

Traveling throughout Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, the nurses experience different things every day.

Just as much as they like keeping the clients they love healthy, they act as counselors, therapists and someone, just a person to talk to.

In hospitals, people come in for a day or two and leave. At our group homes when interacting with clients, Guthrie, Ten Have and Vargas get to see the same people all the time.

It allows them to create deep connections that last, meaning when they walk in the door, it’s common to have warm smiles and big hugs before they can blink.

“I see such a difference in people from when I started here, and they didn’t know me, to now when they encircle me and give me hugs,” Ten Have said, smiling. “You just have that bond.”

After finishing her massage with Richard, Guthrie strolls to the living room and sees Frank.

“What have you got there, Frank?” She says as she sits down next to him, pointing to the paper in his hands.

It’s a colorful picture of St. Louis that he drew, a city Frank says he loves. With a smile, she tells him that she must get going, but she’ll be back to see him soon.

He’ll be looking forward to it, of course.

For some, getting to see the ADEC nursing staff is the best part of their day.