LaKeisha Coleman

From the first time she can remember, LaKeisha Coleman knew she wanted to be a nurse.  Her grandmother was a diabetic on dialysis, and she sat the then nine-year old Coleman down at the kitchen table to explain what to do if she became unresponsive, how to roll insulin in her hands and what amount to give.

Today, Coleman is the director of nursing at Imperial of Hazel Crest, a 204-bed long-term psychiatric facility with a staff of 35 nurses and 50 certified nursing assistants.  A psychiatric long-term care facility for older adults presents unique challenges for the nursing staff.  They need to be educated to deal with behaviors that are much different, behaviors that will never change yet need to be managed and controlled for the patients and staff to feel safe and calm.

Coleman said she went into management because she wanted to be involved in change and mentoring.  She said long-term care nurses are more akin to hospital nurses than any others because they need to use their knowledge and skills on a daily basis.  Coleman added that professional nurses in a long-term care setting make rounds, analyze patient needs and determine treatment based on an intimate knowledge of their patients.

Since graduating from Mennonite College of Nursing in 2004, Coleman has managed several long-term care facilities, including Manor Care in South Holland and Prairie Manor in Chicago Heights.  She serves on the advisory board for the Expanding Teaching-Nursing Home Project at Mennonite College of Nursing, which has representatives from across the state who have a vested interest in the care of older adults.

“I was honored to accept the advisory board invitation and hope that I contribute insight on the necessities for long-term care nursing,” Coleman said.  “I see long-term care nursing expanding in the next 10 years due to our growing population of aging adults.  The nurses will need the same, if not more, knowledge base and critical thinking skills as hospital nurses.  Long-term care is an area that will demand more and more professional nurses.”

Coleman is a resident of Merrillville, Ind., along with daughters Krystal (18), Amarah (11) and Zarrea (7).  Krystal and Amarah play AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball and Zarrea plays softball.  The busy family, along with a demanding career, keeps Coleman on the go.

Cathi Kaesberg, who taught Coleman’s class in pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics in nursing at Mennonite College of Nursing, said Coleman was a “trail blazer with lots of fortitude and the ability to efficiently multitask among family, career and her education.”

From those early days as a caretaker for her grandmother to her current position as manager of a long-term care facility, Coleman has fulfilled her wish to become a nurse.  She says her next challenge will be attaining a master’s degree in the nursing field.  “The new generation of nurses must keep up with vast medical challenges and a growing population,” Coleman said.  “My education through Mennonite College of Nursing has opened a wide range of opportunities, allowing me to have a comfortable, fulfilling life and career.”