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Thirty-seven and one-half years and no more

Jean Grems retires after nearly four decades at Good Samaritan Center

July 27, 2020
By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer , Estherville News

Jean Grems had an in when she applied to be office assistant at Good Samaritan Center in Estherville early in 1983 as her mother-in-law was a long-time employee of the care center, which back then had 140 beds. A year later, Grems was promoted to office manager, and she said each day has been great working with Good Sam's dedicated staff.

In 37.5 years, Jean has seen six full-time administrators, and three interim administrators.

Jean's husband Bob is the former founding director of the Regional Wellness Center; he retired last summer.

Article Photos

Jean Grems marked 37 1/2 years in the office at Good Samaritan Center . Her last day is Monday, Aug. 3.
Photo by Amy H. Peterson

"I look forward to spending more time doing things together," Jean said.

Jean is also excited for the chance to see more of her daughter, Lorrie, her husband and three sons who live in the Phoenix area as both Jean and Bob will have flexibility in their schedules.

For daughter Jenny Nitchals, her husband and three daughters, Jean is thrilled to be able to attend all of their events and games. "It will be so much better than having to choose," Jean said.

In the eighties, the Good Sam office typed all bills and checks manually. Moving to all electronic transactions was a major change. The merging of Good Samaritan Society with Sanford Health was also a major change as some tasks are now completed at the corporate level, Jean said.

The Good Sam office is the first point of contact with the public for residents and families looking to admit someone to the Center.

"We're the first ones to see most of them, and it can be an overwhelming process," Jean said. However, Jean added that recent years have seen a greater number of people who come to Good Sam for rehabilitation after surgery, who get to go home.

Home care, hospice, and other interventions have allowed people with moderate needs to stay home.

"Most of the residents we get now normally are people who require a lot of care," Jean said.

Supervising the office that does the intake of residents entering Good Sam, Jean said she has seen older teachers, former Good Sam staffers, and former schoolmates check in.

"There was a time that no matter what age someone was when they came in, they were not going anywhere," Jean said.

Some of the most drastic changes for Jean and Good Sam have happened in the last six months, since the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We help families do what they've got to do, which is to keep out of the building for the health of our residents," Jean said.

Jean is proud, she said, of the fact that so far Good Sam in Estherville has kept COVID-19 away from its residents, in part by continuing to restrict visitors.

"It's hard on family, residents, and staff," Jean said.

The most rewarding part of the last 37.5 years has been helping residents and their families.

Jean said she has reached the point of burnout, and that helped her make the decision she would not continue for an even 38 years.

"I always enjoyed my job: the people and the staff have been wonderful," Jean said.

While she will miss the day-to-day of her job, Jean said she would not be a stranger but looks forward to visiting after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.



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