What is that clinking sound?
LaToya Howard is testing a Homeland visitor for COVID-19. She directs the visitor to a screening room to have their temperature taken and where facemasks and shields are available. Then comes that clinking sound.
“That is the timer,” LaToya explains. “When I test, we set the timer for 15 minutes. At the end of that 15 minutes, we know what the result is.”
LaToya is one of the first faces – masked, of course – that many visitors and staff see when they come to Homeland. As COVID-19 precautions took effect in early 2020, LaToya assumed the detail-oriented job of conducting and coordinating testing.
When LaToya joined Homeland in 2019, she brought more than 20 years of experience in Pennsylvania within senior living. She has been a certified medication technician for 24 years. In her roles, she has developed care plans, supervised med techs, compiled quarterly and monthly reports for regulators, supported admissions, and conducted evaluations.
She grew up in York, where her aunt was the director of nursing at a local senior living community. LaToya’s aunt offered her a position at her facility, and it was a perfect fit.
“It’s where my passion is,” she says. “I definitely love what I do.”
In 2016, LaToya moved to the Harrisburg area with her husband, who serves in the Army Reserves and as an officer at a local prison. She joined Homeland as a medication technician in Personal Care in July 2019.
In April 2020, LaToya was asked to manage the COVID-19 screening, delivering those ubiquitous questionnaires asking visitors about recent health history and contacts with possibly infected people. Then she became a tester, checking staff and visitors for any symptoms and currently assists in compiling information for reports.
LaToya, assisted by Malani Tate-DeFreitas and Zadia McCullough, routinely test between 200 and 240 people a week.
“You have to be able to multi-task, that’s for sure,” says LaToya. “You have to pay close attention to details.”
People skills are her strong point.
“I love being able to help people,” she says. “It’s just my nature.”
At Homeland, she has found role models in several longer-term employees. Just watching them at work teaches her about delivering hands-on care with compassion.
“It’s nice to have people to look up to and one day follow in their footsteps,” LaToya says. “They teach me so much along the way. I really look up to them and respect their work and commitment very much.”
The professional attitude of Homeland’s staff resonates in the lives of residents, who benefit from all that support and collaboration. Homeland is one of the best places where she has worked, says LaToya.
“Everybody knows their job.’’ she says. “Everyone helps everyone. Everybody’s a team player.”
“I just love being able to help people and know that when I leave at the end of the day, I’ve helped them the best I can and gave them 110 percent.”