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Dedication brings honor, award to St. Barnabas employee

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Pine Creek Journal
Kathy Drayer, of Middlesex, is St. Barnabas Health System’s 2012 Hoppy Award winner, which is given annually to the employee of the year. Submitted

Kathy Drayer had dreamed of being a nurse since she was a young child.

She finally realized her dream of entering the health field in her adult years and today is being recognized for her dedication as a restorative certified nursing assistant at St. Barnabas Nursing Home, in Gibsonia.

Colleagues recently honored Drayer, of Middlesex Township, by presenting her with the 2012 Hoppy Award, St. Barnabas Health System's equivalent of an employee of the year award, which is named after the late Ralph Blessley, a loyal maintenance worker who walked with an unusual gait because of a bone disease.

During the Employee Recognition Ceremony last month, award presenter and St. Barnabas Health System President William V. Day described Drayer's career before announcing her as the 2012 winner.

“When they started with the bio, it took me a while to figure out it was me,” Drayer said. “It was a total shock, and I was overwhelmed with emotion and it was such an honor.”

Drayer said she never had the opportunity to pursue a nursing career growing up, but once her four children were in their teen years, she enrolled in and completed St. Barnabas Health System's certified nursing assistant program.

In the early 1990s, she started as a nursing assistant on the nursing unit at St. Barnabas Nursing Home in Gibsonia but quickly was promoted to a restorative certified nursing assistant position.

Drayer develops the programs and implements the care plans for each resident. Residents' goals include how far or how long they can walk, how much assistance they need or how many repetitions of an exercise they can accomplish.

“I work with the same residents every day to work for a goal for them, and one of the most rewarding things is to see them meet their goal,” Drayer said.

Even in 2001, when Drayer was diagnosed with breast cancer, she didn't stop caring for others.

“I was only off for two weeks after surgery, and I returned to work, and I was glad to come back to work,” Drayer said. “I was glad to come back to work and it gave me a sense of normalcy and let me think of something else.

“The residents and the staff are like a second family.”

Drayer admits there were times she needed to be the patient, but it only gave her a better understanding and compassion for the struggles the residents face each day.

“I've always looked at the residents as if this is my grandfather, grandmother, mother, father … what would I do for them?”

Drayer was nominated by co-workers as this year's Hoppy Award recipient from more than 620 employees at St. Barnabas Health System.

“She goes beyond and works with each department to assure the residents remain safe, involved and feel at home,” said Drayer's supervisor Karen Trapp, administrator of The Arbors at St. Barnabas.

“She never overlooks those small details that may hamper a resident's care and finds solutions to support the resident's goals. Staff relies on her for education, guidance and support, and she is always providing it with a positive outlook. She is truly an example of an employee who gives 150 percent and more to her job.”

Drayer received a trophy inscribed with the words “recognized for outstanding loyalty and service to St. Barnabas Health System, fellow employees and the community” and bouquet of roses in recognition of her dedication.

“You don't realize how much they respect what you do,” Drayer said of being nominated by her co-workers and chosen for the award. “It's just an overwhelming feeling to know your co-workers look at you in that light.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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