When Tammy Wiser announced that she was leaving her previous employer to work at Homeland Center, her company’s HR director responded surprisingly.
“I can’t even ask you to try to stay,” the HR director said. “Everyone who goes there never leaves. I don’t blame you at all.”
That was in April 2022, when Tammy joined Homeland Center as a registered nurse assessment coordinator (RNAC). It’s a crucial post, demanding that she be a healthcare provider, puzzle master, and detective. Her combined skills contribute to ensuring that every Homeland resident receives all the support they need to thrive.
In a career across diverse healthcare providers, Tammy prefers working for nonprofits like Homeland. “You can tell the difference,” she said. “I always loved the nonprofit atmosphere – the family orientation and the resident focus. You enjoy coming to work, not dreading it.”
Tammy grew up in the rural Huntingdon County town of Three Springs. Her mother was a seamstress at a local factory. Her father started his own auto mechanic business. At Southern Huntingdon High School, she was active in “a little bit of everything” – band and playing piano, cheerleading, 4-H.
The family also had a farm, raising beef and tending a garden. Tammy remembers shelling peas to help her mom can 44 pints.
Early in her freshman year of college, Tammy suffered a car accident that broke her nose and jaw. Her teeth required five years of reconstructive surgery. That experience led her to work as an EMT with the local ambulance company. In time, she returned to college.
With a Penn State degree in business management, she opened a business that she would have for many years, making custom wedding gowns and renting wedding items.
In the meantime, travel nursing seemed like a good opportunity, so she obtained her CNA certification and continued attending nursing school. She worked in various roles in nursing homes, personal care homes, and hospitals.
In one setting, she started preparing the MDS (Minimum Data Set), required for documenting Medicare and Medicaid-funded services for every patient.
Around this time, Tammy met her husband, who was serving as a military contractor in Afghanistan. They communicated online, and for their first in-person date, Tammy flew to Sydney, Australia, where he had gone for vacation.
Tammy continued working at nursing facilities through COVID. Each place had its challenges, so when she learned about Homeland through an RNAC job posting, she went for it. “Everybody’s been great here,” she said. “Everybody’s very pleasant.
Everyone has been very approachable from day one.” She continues preparing those MDS documents, which she compares to filling out tax forms. There are a lot of details to enter, and the filer’s signature attests to the accuracy of the information. In the end, these are the forms that help Homeland residents receive the most accurate payments for their optimal care plans.
Behind every form is an entire team entering how they help residents live their fullest lives, including aides, doctors, nurses, therapists, social services, dietary, and activities staff. It’s a living document, updated at least every quarter and more often if residents’ needs change. “When you look at that form, you should have a pretty good idea of that resident,” Tammy said. “We do the juggling. That’s what I like to do. It makes sure the residents get what they need.”
Outside of Homeland, the workday doesn’t end for Tammy and her husband, who works in a quarry. They bought 50 acres in Huntingdon County about three years ago and started a Christmas tree farm.
That one property grew exponentially when a neighbor offered to sell 90 acres. It meant putting off building a new home and living in an old house on the property, but the dream is coming true. “For the past three years, I’ve been planting Christmas trees,” Tammy said. Of course, there is always mowing, trimming, and spraying. They also have dogs, a cat, chickens, and a 29-year-old horse. “He’s still feisty,” said Tammy. “That’s my boy. He’ll follow me around. He’s like a big dog.”
At Homeland, Tammy loves meeting the residents and learning their stories. She is proud to play a part in gathering the resources needed to make their lives comfortable and fulfilling. “This is their home,” she said. “They need to feel it’s more than a place to stay. Homeland is wonderful at focusing on the residents.”
Homeland Center (www.homelandcenter.org) offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania. For more information or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.