By Robert Lucke
Adam Landgraf is a certified nurse assistant at the Northern Montana Care Center in Havre.
What is unusual is that he is an 18-year-old Havre High graduate who has thrown himself into a world of baths and bedpans while he waits for fall so that he can begin his nursing career at Montana State University in Bozeman.
Meanwhile, working his three 12-hour days each week, along with as much overtime as he can get, he is a busy teenager.
Needs of Care Center residents are as varied as each resident. However, there are some special things that can be done for all.
"What a nurse assistant does up here is take care of special needs of the residents that the regular nurses don't do," Landgraf said. "We do things like baths, dress sometimes, and assist in things that need some supervision at times."
Landgraf got to be a certified nurse assistant in record time by lots of on-the-job training at the Care Center along with passing an examination.
And all this is just a part of his grand scheme.
"This fall I am planning on going to Bozeman. I am interested in sports medicine or being a registered nurse," Landgraf said.
And nursing is a proven product in Landgraf's family.
"My grandfather is David Sande, a nurse who had the Care Center in Big Sandy for years, and I have an uncle, Dave Jr., who is the administrator of a nursing home in Whitefish," Landgraf said.
Lest you think that is all of Adam Landgraf's world, well, think again.
"Track is another reason I chose to go to Bozeman to school. I love track. Last year I won state in the 400 meter and I did well this year too," Landgraf said.
But why the Care Center now?
"I really like helping people and I like working only three days a week," Landgraf said. "That way I can do sports or hike and other things to keep me going. Who knows, maybe I will even plant a garden if I get ambitious."
"And as for now," he continued, "it is really good experience at the Care Center. I wanted to start at the bottom and work my way up and I am learning a lot along the way."
A typical day for Landgraf starts at the Care Center at 6:30 a.m., when his day shift meets the night shift to find out which residents are going to need special looking after or had a tough night. Then it is getting folks up and dressed for breakfast, moving them to breakfast and back again. Baths, special needs and vital signs along with blood pressures and the like mark the morning. After an early lunch, residents take naps and continue with activities that were not completed in the morning. This goes on until their evening meal and then there is another meeting, this time imparting knowledge to the night crew who has had a bad day or needs something special through the evening and night hours.
Landgraf is quick to point out that his first day on the job was not at all what he was expecting.
"I really wasn't expecting all the things that have to be done to help people, and the lifts and different things used to just get people up and out of bed. And all the cleaning up of people," Landgraf said. "After the first day I didn't want to do this anymore but I came back and sometime during the second day, I said, I can do this.' And any job is honorable."
Landgraf's parents are Debbie and Joe Landgraf. He has a sister and two brothers at home.
At times Landgraf's friends wonder if he has lost his mind.
"Many think this is a very demeaning job. And it is very hard work," Landgraf said. "But I like doing it and it is good. My friends couldn't understand but it didn't change my mind."
And there are the high points. Landgraf lives for those.
"When you get through to someone and you can see it in them that you made them happy, that really makes me happy," Landgraf said, smiling. "Or when they start telling me stories of their lives and in such detail, then I know I have reached them. That is when I realize just how much I can learn from them."