JoAnn Curry is many things to many different people. To her three grandchildren, this vibrant grandma is “Meemah”. Her friends know JoAnn as a HUGE Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic. Fellow colleagues and residents at Toms River’s Holiday Care Center, know her as “kind”, “loving” and “devoted”. Now, friends, family, and the entire Garden State can call JoAnn Curry by her well-deserved title, NJADONA (New Jersey Association Directors of Nursing Administration) LPN of the Year.

Donna Schwartzman CSW, LNHA, Administrator at Holiday Care Center, has been one of JoAnn’s most vociferous boosters. “JoAnn is a strong leader who is slight in stature, which is no match for the enormous ownership or energy that she demonstrates when caring for the residents and managing the staff. She understands the balance required of being kind and gentle, while being in a position of authority to get the best outcomes for residents and staff.”

For almost 18 years, JoAnn has been a dedicated nurse at Holiday Care Center. The 180 bed facility in Toms River provides a wide array of specialized 24/7 nursing care, including care for chronically ill residents, those in need of sub acute care, rehab services, physical, occupational, speech therapy and more. The beloved and well-respected LPN has served as a staff nurse on each of the facility’s three nursing units. Since 2000, she has been a Supervisory Nurse, and for nine years the Unit Manager of Jefferson Unit, a 60 bed Long Term Care residence.

In the strong opinion of Robin L. Clausen, BSN, RN, C and Holiday Care Center Director of Nursing, the recognition is further testament to JoAnn’s meticulous dedication to her patients and staff, and speaks to her initiative to resolve issues. “JoAnn leads her staff by example in demonstrating and requiring that standards of care be met and exceeded. She can be found routinely responding to the requests and needs of residents, families and visitors, vendors and staff. JoAnn is always moving, answering call bells, assisting with personal care and participating in care conferences and other agendas.”

There are episodes in every life that become defining moments. JoAnn Curry remembers being a patient and having a nurse who was cold, unsupportive and without compassion. This unsettling experience was a turning point for JoAnn, and a blessing for her future patients and fellow caregivers. “It was horrible feeling not being well and not having someone to be supportive and make a difference in your recovery.” She reflects fondly on what her favorite nursing school teacher told her about being a nurse. “This is a tough profession. You have to be committed. You have to love it. Keep your sense of humor. And no matter what you do, be honest, compassionate, true to your profession, and you will always do well.”

Outside of nursing, the life and times of JoAnn Curry begins and ends with family. “My children are my heart and my soul,” she says passionately. Married with four grown children and three grandchildren, they all meet for Sunday dinner in her home each week. Her oldest granddaughter gets the special bonus of making traditional Italian cookies with her grandmother.

Care, kindness and understanding have always been crucial to care giving. Today so is something called MDS 3.0, a powerful organizational software tool, which the nursing care industry is transitioning to – but not without its technical hiccups. Holiday Care Center recently introduced MDS 3.0, and according to Robin Clausen, JoAnn went above and beyond to help through the technological transition. “While learning the process herself, she spent endless hours assisting the MDS coordinator to accomplish this overwhelming task. It was during this time that JoAnn showed her extraordinary leadership skills. Her wonderful sense of humor, energy and determination were instrumental in completing this transition process.”

Too busy to take a break from the profession she has devoted a lifetime to, JoAnn continues to share her compassion, joy, and specialized talents to positively impact lives. Whether its passing out meal service, answering a call in the early morning hours, or counseling a staff member, JoAnn can always be counted on to get the job done. “JoAnn has tremendous energy and I don’t see her slowing down anytime soon, and that is our good fortune. We look forward to JoAnn having many more years to come at Holiday Care Center, continuing to do what she does best, providing excellent leadership to the staff and delivering great care to the residents.” When New Jersey’s next LPN of the Year is being considered, JoAnn Curry will be an almost impossible act to follow.

Holiday Care Center is one of Ocean County’s most highly regarded nursing and rehabilitative facilities. Its diverse and specialized services include 24/7 care for the chronically ill, as well as sub-acute and convalescent care, and a state-certified Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care program.