Sharon O. Dixon Clinical Excellence Award

Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care certified nursing assistant (CNA) Juanita Carlton, CNAII, CHPNA, QDCP, recently received the 2020 Sharon O. Dixon Clinical Excellence Award from The Carolinas Center. The award is presented annually to a hospice clinical staff member from North and South Carolina who raises the level of clinical excellence in his or her organization through exemplary leadership and care delivery skills.

Juanita Carlton does not have to be asked to do the extras that define personalized hospice care in its purest sense. She does it as a way of life. She listens, she cares and then she acts to help patients experience joy—the simple joys that even a terminal disease cannot take away. A snowfall, freshly painted fingernails, a matching gown, a visit from Santa—not required, not exactly clinical, but oh so important. In short, Juanita majors in small moments with big meanings.

A 28-year veteran to Caldwell Hospice, it is no wonder she is often asked to share her expertise with newcomers. “We often request Juanita to train new CNAs in the type of special care she provides, says Caldwell Hospice CEO Cathy Swanson.

Also the recipient of the Best of Caldwell 2019 and 2020 awards, Juanita is certified as both a CNAI and CNAII, is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant and is a Qualified Dementia Care Provider, but her true gift goes beyond the excellent clinical care she provides for her patients. She genuinely cares and sees each one as the individual they are.

“Juanita knows the value of the ‘little things’. She routinely does the ‘extras’,” says inpatient coordinator Nancy Wallace, BSN, RN, “like hair, nail polish and especially celebrating anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas!”

In 2014, Juanita recruited a hospice volunteer and provided him with a Santa costume. She then purchased small gifts for the patients on the patient care units and escorted “Santa” from room to room, ringing jingle bells to make Christmas Eve deliveries. It has become a beloved tradition the entire unit staff looks forward to each year. “Santa” also loves it and begins growing his beard each year in June for the big night.

When Juanita hears about a wedding anniversary, she makes sure it is celebrated in style with a candlelight dinner right there in the patient’s room. She makes birthdays special, too, again, by listening first and then acting. After learning a soon-to-be 100 year-old residential patient loved Little Debbie cakes, Juanita invited staff to donate boxes of the treats to this patient at a birthday party. Sure enough, 100 boxes were collected. The patient was thrilled to open and nibble on boxes and boxes of individually wrapped Little Debbie cakes while wearing her birthday tiara.

Sharon O. Dixon had a passion for end-of-life care and was a tireless advocate for hospice care as a whole. Juanita Carlton shares that same passion, and for nearly three decades she has shared it with her patients—listening and acting—creating joy where it can be found. Juanita is carrying on the legacy of Ms. Dixon one patient at a time.

Caldwell Hospice, the most experienced and only local, not-for-profit hospice care provider serving our area, is committed to providing quality, respectful end-of-life care to our community. For more information about Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, call 828.754.0101 or visit www.caldwellhospice.org or Facebook.