Pictured from L-to-R: Current Southbrook Skilled Nursing and Rehab employees who are Mineral Area College alumni. Front row: Andrea Varvera, LPN; Stacy Jones, LPN; Amy Swink, RN DON; Pam Harman, RN; Connie Burnette, Business Office Manager; Paula Naused, RN; and Vivian Sloan, RN. Back row: Brett Miller, RN; Christina Hedgcorth, RN; Stephanie Young, LPN; Lunda Morris, RN; Christina Needham, LPN; and Christy Holt, RN, ADON.
Mineral Area College’s Allied Health Department plays an essential role in providing healthcare to the citizens in our region. Whether it’s a physician’s office, hospital, clinic, school, hospice, or correctional facility, well-trained nurses and staff are essential to quality patient care. Nurses go beyond addressing their patients’ medical conditions. They provide emotional support for loved ones, educate patients and families, and serve as patient advocates.
Southbrook Skilled Nursing and Rehab is owned by Americare, a company that provides residential and assisted living care for seniors. Americare has served Farmington and the regional area since 1981. Area residents may recall its Fleur de Lis care facility, which was renovated and became Southbrook in 1999. In 2022, Southbrook expanded its facility and services and relocated to its new campus behind Parkland Health Center in Farmington. Over the years, many Mineral Area College alumni have worked in various positions at Southbrook.
Several Southbrook employees reflected on their Mineral Area College experiences.
After earning her associate degree, CONNIE BURNETTE has been employed at Southbrook for the past 15 years. “My first job was in the payroll department, and after three years, I was promoted to the business office manager,” she recalls. “I was age 50 when I lost my job after 10 years of employment due to downsizing. I had the option to attend college with a two-year grant. But I really did not want to go to college, I just wanted to get back into the workforce. But my daughter told me this scholarship was a great opportunity to further my education. It was a challenge, but I took it seriously and had a great time. I would have never looked for a job in the medical field if I hadn’t gone to college.” For some adults who return to the classroom, they preserve ups and downs to accomplish their educational goals. Connie recalls, “I’ll never forget the anxieties of my first English Comp class. I actually left the class in tears because I had forgotten everything about writing a paper. It didn’t take long, and I was writing some great papers and enjoyed relearning how to write. Although I can’t recall the instructor’s name, I also thoroughly enjoyed her history class.”
AMY GREBE earned her AA and LPN degrees. She currently is the night shift LPN. Amy says, “While attending MAC I was a single parent of three, so working was a must. I am thankful for the scholarships I received. They allowed me to work less and give more time to focus on school.” When asked about favorite teachers, Amy continues, “Paula Thompson, my practical nursing instructor, took the time to make me feel welcome. She shared stories from working as a nurse. She had a way of teaching that made me remember the subject matter. Since MAC was local, I didn’t have to spend all my time driving to and from school. There were so many scholarships and financial aid, I could take the time I needed from work to focus on school, and still be able to provide for my family. When I think about MAC, I realized MAC gave me a career to be proud of, a career I love. Without MAC, I wouldn’t have the education I wanted nor would I be where I am now.”
PAMELA HARMON, one of seven graduates of MAC’s first Hybrid ADN class, is Southbrooks’ Staffing Development Coordinator and Education Coach. “I have been a team member at Southbrook since 2020. The team at Southbrook is like a big family that I am proud to be a part of,” explains Pamela. “In the past, I worked in Madison Medical Center’s surgery department, Preferred Hospice as a RN Case Manager, SMMHC at SORTS, and in-home health. I have enjoyed each position and learned many different aspects of nursing. Mineral Area College has paved the way for my success in each area of nursing. Having been an older, non-traditional student I am grateful to have had a place close to home to attend college while I raised my children.”
Pamela, a Dean’s List honoree, expresses her gratitude, “I will never forget--and will always be grateful--to Ms. Lana Jinkerson and Mrs. Mary Eimer for their dedication to my education. Ms. Jinkerson was straightforward and pushed me to succeed even when I thought nursing wasn’t my forte. She was firm and expected a lot from her students but also made me realize I could be a nurse. Mrs. Eimer was a very caring instructor who was soft-spoken yet demanded the best from her students. She taught me many different ways to look at the same scenario. Both ladies were very knowledgeable and without their guidance and encouragement, I would not be where I am today. I have and always will aspire to be as great of a nurse and educator as they were for me. Also, I miss all the great times I had with my amazing classmates and instructors. I’m fortunate that I have kept in touch with many of my classmates and have been co-workers with an instructor or two.”
Despite the demands of the nursing program, Pamela says, “We had fun, too. During my LPN year, I had the honor of holding a chair in MoSALPN and attended the annual convention with a few other classmates at Lake of the Ozarks,” she recalls. “We had a great time with Ms. Jinkerson as our chaperone. One night after a long day of conference speakers, we decided to go down to the lake and sit on the dock talking about our day. We began noticing our legs were going deeper into the water. The dock was sinking! We all ran from the dock, some of us screaming as we went deeper into the water. As we made it back to the top of the dock it began to come back up, but not before some of us were soaked! It’s definitely a story we still laugh about today when we see one another.”
CHRISTINA HEDGCORTH earned her LPN, RN, and associate degree. “MAC’s nursing program is one of the best around. The instructors had us more than ready for our careers when we graduated. Lisa Thomas was a special instructor who truly loved nursing. She wanted us to be the best nurses possible. I always had great study partners--Christy Holt, Ashley Thorton, Stacy Jones, and Angie Rasnic to name a few. MAC really worked well for me because it was close to home. So, I was able to raise a family while I trained for the career I had dreamed of.”
After earning her AA degree, CHRISTY HOLT entered the nursing program and earned both her LPN (1997) and RN (2018) degrees. “Dr. Gamble was undoubtedly one of my favorite teachers. I was lucky enough to have her for anatomy, physiology, and microbiology,” says Christy, the Assistant Director of Nursing. “I feel like the MAC nursing program was very well structured and prepared me to work confidently in the nursing field.”
STACY JONES, a 2000 LPN graduate, served as the vice president of her LPN class and was a Dean’s List honoree. She says, “Lisa Mengwasser was one of my favorite instructors. She was always available to her students even after hours. She even found ways for us to have fun while we managed the demands of our nursing program. She had the biggest impact on my career!” Stacy was classmates with Christina Hedgcorth, Angie Rasnic, Heather Miller, Leslie Gidden, and Shelly Keen. She began her career at Southbrook in 2001. She currently is an MDS nurse which entails all data submitted to state database. “I have worked in skilled nursing care since graduation at the same facility for 22 years,” she says. “The MAC LPN program was very intense but very worth it! I thank all my instructors for their patience and time leading our class to succeed. I felt confident with my skills. MAC prepared me well for my nursing career to enter the workforce.”
“Wow, one lesson I learned at MAC is that you’re never too old to start a new journey!” says Charge LPN SHAYNA STRANGE, a 2021 LPN graduate. “I loved my experience at MAC and think it’s a great school. MAC’s PN program was tough, but it has made me the nurse I am today. In my PN program, each of my three teachers shined in their own way. Mrs. Junge was always inspirational and positive. Mrs. Brooks made you learn by studying every aspect of the subject. Ms. Lay was like your favorite aunt. My classmates were Candis Kirby and Brittany Beard who became some of my closest friends in class and are still to this day.”
Southbrook Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center is located at 1101 Hazel Drive in Farmington.