Fil-Am’s nursing home in US exemplifies Pinoy brand of caring

By Maricar CP Hampton/ The FilAm Metro DC
Marrieta Itom Barcelon, a critical nurse, first realized her heart belongs to geriatric care while working at the Sibley Memorial Hospital, a division of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“Most of our patients were seniors,” she said. “My heart went out to them and the senior community, and that was when I made a choice.”

The ‘choice’ was two senior group homes located in the suburbs of Silver Spring, Maryland. The name Necitas Assisted Living. The year 2008.

She started small with only five residents. In three months she got licensed for eight. Within a year she got her second facility. Marrieta, 35, said she dipped into her own savings to get herself started. “I am proud to say I did not get a business loan,” she said.

Necitas takes pride in the quality of care provided in the Filipino homes, she said. “It exemplifies a true Filipino tradition.”

Her 99 percent Filipino staff works with “real compassion,” she added. As the owner, she said she loves what she does and her heart and passion are truly in her business.

“Filipinos are very hard workers. They are the workers you can actually trust. When it comes to taking care of the elderly my experience with Filipinos is that they treat them like their own. They treat the residents like family,” said Marrieta, a native of Hinunangan, Southern Leyte.

Necitas Assisted Living not only takes care of the residents’ medical needs, they are also big on the holistic approach where the seniors participate in a wide range of activities, including music memories, games, sports and out-of-town trips.

“We are a fun home,” she continued. “We make it a point that every day is worth living whatever condition they are in.”

Like all businesses, success comes with challenges.

“The challenge is getting new clients every time, choosing the right client based on the existing clients.”

As a rule, the staff and officers are not supposed to get too emotionally close to residents.

“Sometimes it’s really very hard because I treat them like family. I may be a businesswoman but at the same time they are my family,” she said.

“My staff and I share the same principle — we treat clients as family. When you treat your clients as family, you would want them to be treated the best way possible. You want them to be happy and to be comfortable and that’s what makes it different,” she continued.

Another challenge is when you try to accommodate everybody.

“When you try to accommodate everybody that comes to you but you can only accommodate those who can afford private pay and not insurance nor government subsidiary. This becomes a challenge since we only accept private pay clients, ” she says.

Marrieta, who is soon to marry optometrist and nurse, Phillip Cinco, said family is important to her.She named her company Kievlan Assisted Living LLC in honor of her father. Necitas is her mother’s name.

A third facility is due to open soon.

“My goal is to have more small, comfortable, happy residential homes for seniors,” she said. “Small enough that they will feel like they’re just home, where they will receive the best care and attention they well deserve, but the company is big enough to compete in the very competitive world of senior living today.”

Find more like this: Nursing Stories

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