Employee Spotlight: Dignity is paramount to assistant director of nursing Virginia Halty


Virginia HaltyDignity is paramount to Assistant Director of Nursing Virginia Halty

Virginia Halty entered nursing in pediatrics, but she was inspired to serve the elderly by watching her beloved grandmother deal with “the issues of aging.”

“She was probably the most beautiful, understanding, kind, and considerate person I’ll ever meet in my life,” says Halty. “She was like my best friend. She taught me how to cook, sew, crochet.”

Halty joined the Homeland staff in late May 2017 as assistant director of nursing, responsible for infection control and restorative care. Nursing seemed to be her calling, as she discovered that her family tree is full of nurses, teachers, and social workers. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University and a master’s degree from Drexel University.

“I’m a people person,” she says. “I learn from people. I can appreciate making them feel better. Maybe I’m coming in to take you to the bathroom, but please, have a conversation with me. Let’s talk. It’s not just the task but about helping residents feel like people.”

Though she has worked in a variety of settings, Halty got her start in nursing at Homeland, serving at age 15 as an assistant alongside her mother. Her mom, the late Esther Brooks, enforced rigorous standards that went as far as being sure to wash between the fingers and behind the ears when bathing residents.

“In between your toes and the base of your neck,” Halty recounts. “It’s about doing the kind of things that make you feel clean as a person.”

In her infection control role, she oversees the myriad details that comprise an effective, workable approach to managing such common challenges as urinary tract infections, which can “set the elderly population back.”

On the restorative side, Halty works with the physical therapy department on “how to maximize residents’ functional ability, so their quality of life is improved or maintained.” The approach includes helping residents keep flexibility through range-of-motion programs.

“That simple exercise helps them maintain the ability to wash their face and brush their teeth, which helps them maintain their dignity,” she says. “Walking, ambulating — we want to keep them moving as much as possible.”

Outside the office, Halty enjoys reading inspirational novels. She and her husband, Erwin Joyner, are active in their small congregation, the New Life Christian Church, doing whatever needs to be done – cleaning the church, bringing in food, taking hats and scarves or sandwiches and soup to Harrisburg’s homeless.

“We don’t have a lot, but we try to give what we can,” she says.

She has three stepsons and two sons, who are both now expectant parents, with babies due in October and February.

Halty feels fortunate to be at Homeland, where she “couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.” Here, institutional attention to detail and quality of life matches her own. She even sees it in the meticulous care given to residents’ appearance.

“People are dressed,” she says. “Their hair is combed. Their teeth are brushed. The women have makeup on. Their nails are done. That speaks volumes to the type of care we are giving here at Homeland. It is a wonderful sight to see.”