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‘Our Teacher Park’ at the Veterans’ Nursing Home
NKRF Date 2021-11-16 Hit 351

‘Our Teacher Park’ at the Veterans’ Nursing Home



 


 


At 7am in the morning, a little earlier than most others, Ms. Park Mi-hwa starts her day as a care helper at Namyangju Veterans’ Nursing Home. As soon as she gets to work, she makes breakfast for the elderly in the nursing home, and busily gets to work as she cleans the hospital rooms, changes diapers, gives snacks and lunch, does physical therapy, gives baths, and cleans the bathroom and more.
She takes care of 14 seniors a day, of which 8 are severely ill. Most of the seniors are in wheelchairs and have difficulty moving, so helping with their bowel movements and baths are the most physically demanding times. There are 3 co-workers, with a total of 5 staff including the chief and second chief, who take care of 41 seniors a day.



All night I wonder how our mothers have been
Co-workers of Ms. Park Mi-hwa rate her favorably. Chief Cha Yun-ju said, “Ms. Park Mi-hwa gives everything she has and has a strong sense of responsibility as a group leader.” Second Chief Lee Jae-suk praised her, saying, “She is very good at keeping things organized and tidy”.
Mr. Kim Sun-nam said, “The seniors only look for Mi-hwa. That is how popular she is with the elderly,” and Ms. Kim Mi-hwa said, “She seems tough because of her strong accent and straightforwardness. But she is gentle at heart more than anyone else and is sincere to the elderly.”’
At the recommendation of a nun in 2008, she obtained her nursing assistant license. After receiving the license, she started working as a visiting care helper at home centers. The job was more arduous than working part-time in a restaurant, but she felt rewarded with the income coming in every month.
Since then, nursing care has become her profession. She joined the veterans’ nursing home she currently works for in 2016. It is a place that takes care of the elderly of national merit under the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. This place has stricter national supervision, hygiene and cleanliness, and more demanding requests from guardians compared to other facilities, so there is much for the care helpers to do.
Her day is so busy that she doesn’t even have time for short breaks. After she serves meals for the seniors, cleans the hospital rooms, changes diapers, and separates snacks for the mild and critically ill patients, it is time for lunch.
From one room to another, as she cleans and organizes things while rushing to the urgent calls of the elderly looking for ‘Teacher Park’ (the name for Ms. Park Mi-hwa in the nursing home), the working hours fly by.
Since most of the elderly have underlying medical conditions or have dementia, things such as preparing meals, washing them, and changing their diapers need to be done as if they are newborn babies.
She recalled her most rewarding time as a care helper was caring for Grandmother Kim. This was a patient who had injured her back and was unable to use the lower half of her body.
She had difficulty with her bowel movements and had constipation from lying in bed all day, and her family were reluctant to keep her in diapers and insisted on picking the grandmother up and putting her in the bathroom.
Ms. Park, who ended up taking care of Grandmother Kim, promised to persuade Grandmother Kim to help her lay down and have a bowel movement. With utmost sincerity, she was able to change the grandmother’s bowel habits by massaging her stomach and around the anus. As the problem of both patients and helpers being exhausted helping her to the bathroom every time was resolved, Grandmother Kim came to trust ‘Teacher Park’ infinitely. She said that since then, whenever Grandmother Kim came across something good, she would look for Teacher Park first, and the grandmother’s family who came to visit her also thanked Ms. Park.  
Additionally, old man Ko in the hospital room on the second floor likes Ms. Park. She took care of old man Ko as if he were her real father. When she was having a hard time from a misunderstanding with a colleague, old man Ko would support her by saying, “Our Teacher Park is not a bad person”. 
Whenever something good happens, the grandfather looks for “Our Teacher Park”, and she responds with a broad smile like a daughter. Seeing that, coworkers enviously comment, “You’re lucky. There are so many people who look for “Our Teacher Park”,” which helps her to feel rewarded from the work.
Care helper Park Mi-hwa says the following. “Actually, being a nursing assistant is difficult. But I like this job. I am happy to see the seniors smile brightly like a child when I take care of them with utmost sincerity, and when I come to work in the morning, I wonder if our mothers have been doing well through the night and I miss them. I want to continue doing this until my retirement age.”




If you want to survive, keep enemies away
Ms. Park, who joined the year after 2015, when the hospital was built, was younger but a senior among her colleagues. “It’s hard to take care of the elderly, but it’s fun”, she said.
There was a time when she was unjustly framed while caring for the elderly and had a hard time. Every time that happened, the seniors Ms. Park was caring for stood by her side and supported her saying, “Teacher Park is not that kind of person”. She said she realized then that she was getting back as much as she had poured into the elders.
“I realized that if you want to survive here, you have to keep enemies away. But because my personality is so fiery, I am often misunderstood. When I see injustice, I can’t stay quiet. The hardest thing to do while working is to get along with my co-workers while suppressing my personality. The work itself isn’t hard at all. It’s actually fun. I want to work harder because I want to stay here until retirement.”
She is raising two children, and earnestly took care of her sick mother-in-law, until recently when she passed away. The care helper Park Mi-hwa, whom this reporter met, is as confident and loud as she does her best in her work.

 

At 7am in the morning, a little earlier than most others, Ms. Park Mi-hwa starts her day as a care helper at Namyangju Veterans’ Nursing Home. As soon as she gets to work, she makes breakfast for the elderly in the nursing home, and busily gets to work as she cleans the hospital rooms, changes diapers, gives snacks and lunch, does physical therapy, gives baths, and cleans the bathroom and more.

 

She takes care of 14 seniors a day, of which 8 are severely ill. Most of the seniors are in wheelchairs and have difficulty moving, so helping with their bowel movements and baths are the most physically demanding times. There are 3 co-workers, with a total of 5 staff including the chief and second chief, who take care of 41 seniors a day.