For those who come to the Pilgrim Senior Center, like Rosemarie Janelle, the whole idea is to get out of the house and do something fun or fulfilling with their day. Fittingly enough, Paula Woodbine-Ducharme comes to the senior center every day now for the same reason.
“You have to keep going in life, no matter what,” she said on Wednesday during an impromptu interview. “I get bored easily, so I especially have to keep going. I just had two weeks off prior to starting and I was so ready to come back to work.”
As the new in-house nurse for the senior center, Woodbine-Ducharme may not exactly be offering a “fun” activity to those who utilize her services, but they are important services nonetheless. She read off Janelle’s blood pressure with a soothing, reassuring voice. She was in stellar shape.
“I’ve been a nurse for 30 years – I’m ready for this job,” she said.
Woodbine-Ducharme was born in Warwick and originally wanted to become a teacher. But when her grandparents began to age and she took on the task of taking care of them, her father mentioned that she would make for an exceptional nurse. She got her associates degree in nursing from the Community College of Rhode Island in 1989 and the rest is history.
She spent 21 years at Kent Hospital and another eight at Rhode Island Hospital. She also worked as an outpatient surgical nurse. She recently went back to finish her bachelor’s degree at Rhode Island College, which opened up the opportunity to apply for the Pilgrim Senior Center job – which she ultimately won.
“I met her once prior, maybe last week, right before she started. I just wanted to get a read on her and I was very, very impressed,” said Mayor Joseph Solomon on her appointment. “Mostly what impressed me about her was the compassion in her heart. The compassion to do the job and the compassion that resonates with her patients.”
The Pilgrim nursing job is actually not Woodbine-Ducharme’s first job for the city of Warwick. When she was about 18 years old she worked for former Mayor Joe Walsh on his then-new summer job lottery program.
In terms of her priorities, she said she is looking to get her feet underneath her and then move forward with setting up a class on overall wellness and diabetes, which she looks to instruct, by September.
Now living in North Kingstown with her husband, Woodbine-Ducharme said that coming back to Pilgrim was a welcome development in her career – not only because of the location, but because she was once again helping senior citizens, just as she did with her own grandparents prior to becoming a nurse.
“I almost felt like I was coming home when I got this job,” she said. “I’m happy to come to work every day.”