Whitney Berry can’t believe she once told her mom she’d never be a nurse. Now, she and her mother Kelly DeYoung - who both have nursing degrees - serve as the two main leaders at Addison Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center in Chesterton: DeYoung, Administrator, and Berry, Director of Nursing. This certainly was not in their game plan.
In 1997, DeYoung graduated from nursing school after serving as a phlebotomist at St. Anthony Medical Centers. She remembers being mesmerized by the nurses' passion for caregiving.
“As a phlebotomist, you didn’t want to leave the room,” DeYoung said. “I would think, What’s going on with them? Why are they here? I just wanted to do more.”
This thought forged her path to becoming a nurse and soon enough, her 7-year-old daughter Whitney was there to open her mother’s nursing school acceptance letter.
After getting her nursing degree, DeYoung traveled throughout Northwest Indiana working several positions within nursing homes and senior care facilities while her daughter grew up. She had no idea she was inspiring her daughter’s future career.
“There would be many times I would just hang out with my mom while she worked. I remember walking through the halls while my mom was handing out medication from the med-cart,” Berry said. “As I grew up, I remember watching her do so many things and was so proud of her.”
When Berry turned 16, she acquired her certified nursing assistant (CNA) license, attending training classes led by her mother over the weekends. She quickly learned that she felt limited with the kind of care she could provide as a CNA.
“I decided to go to college and become a mechanical engineer because I was a huge math person. Then I wanted to be a teacher. After much thought, I decided to just apply to the nursing program,” Berry said. “I then graduated and became an RN.”
DeYoung and Berry knew from the start that nursing homes both provide and broaden opportunities in the field. Though she had a nursing degree, DeYoung also worked in staffing and scheduling, then merged to admissions and marketing, where she studied the financial side of the field. These experiences sculpted a clear path for DeYoung to become the strong administrator she is today.
DeYoung successfully acquired her CNA and Administrator In Training (AIT) license and spent almost 10 years as Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON) at a senior facility in Crown Point while she continued to gain experience to eventually become an administrator.
“As the ADON, you leave your family a lot. You never really know when you’re going to get home. And as a single mom, it was difficult,” DeYoung said.
“I knew the sacrifices she was making as I grew up. As I watched her do that, I wanted to do that too,” Berry said.
Along the line, DeYoung met Rose Smalley, TLC compliance director, the corporation that umbrellas Addison Pointe. Smalley taught her the ins and outs of being an Administrator.
Over the years, DeYoung stayed connected with Smalley, who persisted she work at Addison Pointe in Chesterton. DeYoung obliged, and has been there since October 2017.
A month later, Berry was on the way to an interview for a Director of Nursing (DON) position at another facility when she was caught off guard by a gesture from Addison Pointe asking her to fill that same position there. She took the offer and has been at Addison Pointe since November 2017.
“I love to see the same faces every day. To walk down the hall and hug them, and know their family,” Berry said.
As DON, Berry spends most of her time overseeing the nursing department, double checking CNA duties, and ensuring residents have what they need.
“Both Whitney and I are in charge of how the place runs. When I’m not here, she is in charge,” DeYoung said. “As of now, we are the longest standing duo within these positions at Addison Pointe.”
For DeYoung, her duties are pretty simple: overseeing every department and every person in the building.
“The level of responsibility is huge for us and anyone in the field. We have wonderful people next to us that are also doing the same thing,” DeYoung said.
“Every patient has a story, a different medication, a different need. It’s 24-7, but it’s what we do and we love it,” Berry said.