Russellville Park: caring, compassionate, consistent staff make all the difference for residents

There certainly is no shortage of reasons for residents of Russellville Park to love the retirement community, which more closely resembles a vacation resort than a typical "old folks" home. The community offers independent, assisted-living and memory-care apartments and is dedicated to providing excellent, friendly service.

Conveniently located near Portland's I-5/I-84 corridor, the community also is jam-packed with activities ranging from arts and crafts to fitness, a weekly happy hour and an on-site bistro. But the best part of Russellville is the quality staff members working there, who provide the absolute best care to its 327 residents. Several of the staff members have been with the retirement community for more than five years, providing consistent care to residents.

Meghna Davidson, Russellville's general manager, has been with Leisure Care, Russellville's management company, for nine years. "I started right out of college as an activities director," she said. "Russellville was hospitable, innovative and fun," said Davidson, with a strong emphasis on "fun." But it is the relationship with the residents that has kept her at Russellville for nearly a decade, she said. "They become a part of your life. They really are just like family."

Davidson isn't the only longtime Russellville employee. Barbara Emmett, an assistant manager, has been with Russellville for more than a decade. She was with the retirement community long before it was officially named Russellville Park. "I love working with people, that's what it comes down to," she said. "It's been an amazing journey. It's been great to see how I could make a difference in people's lives, people I consider family."

Sara Albers and Ivan Contreras have worked at Russellville for seven and five years respectively. Albers currently works in the health and wellness department and previously worked in patient care, medical administration and in the food service department. Contreras has worked in patient care during his entire five years there. "I love healthcare and being able to help our residents," said Albers. Contreras said it was a staff member in Russellville's memory-care unit who first encouraged him to apply for a job with the retirement community five years ago. Contreras said he is very content with the work he is doing at Russellville. "I enjoy my coworkers and working with them every day," he said.

In their own way, these longtime employees have had a positive effect on the residents of Russellville. Emmett started the "Sharing Lives" program shortly after she first started working at Russellville. The program helped new residents get to know their new neighbors by sharing their life story with them during the once-a-month program. Each of Russellville's transitional units now has a similar program. "It's a way that our whole community connects in another way besides playing bridge or taking an exercise class," said Emmett. "This puts it on a different level."

Davidson said that as the general manager, she tries her best to be a positive role model, which she believes makes the most impact on residents. She accomplishes this, in part, by supporting her employees and helping them to solve problems, as well as following through on services to residents. "One of the things I wanted to do was to help our residents see our assisted living services in a more positive and supportive light, by highlighting the exceptional care they would receive there from people like Ivan and Sara," said Davidson.

Albers said she encourages the residents to have fun every day and truly enjoy life. And while she does her best to have a positive impact on them, "I feel the residents here have more of an impact on me," she said.

None of the longtime employees expressed a future that did not include Russellville in it. "I have no desire to leave," said Albers. "I have great support here from my managers and coworkers. I've developed a relationship with the residents, and leaving would be extremely hard for me."

Davidson said after nine years at Russellville, she can truly say that no day has been like another. "In layman's terms, I work for a senior housing facility, however, it is the most exciting and fast-paced environment I have worked in," she said. Emmett – who acknowledged she is "definitely past retirement age" – said she has no desire to retire from Russellville any time soon. "We all love coming to work," she said. "This is our life."

LOCATION: 20 SE 103rd Ave., Portland, OR 97216
PHONE: 503-254-5900
SERVICES: Independent, assisted-living and memory-care apartments in an inclusive retirement community that includes restaurant venues, fully equipped gym and swimming pool and social spaces/free weekly happy hour.
NEARBY AMENITIES: Convenient to the Max Light Rail line, Mall 205, Portland Adventist Hospital and Medical Offices, Providence Hospital and Medical Clinics, the Portland Clinic, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Center and Glendoveer Golf Course.