A certified nursing assistant at one Texas facility is earning accolades for the extra work she puts in around Thanksgiving.

CNA Herlinda Cartagena

Just last week, the Life Care Center of Plano hosted its annual resident dinner to celebrate Turkey Day. CNA Herlinda Cartagena made sure to show up early on Friday to help put up decorations for the event.

Then, even though she punched out at 2 p.m., she stayed on to serve turkey and stuffing to residents, and then remained even later to help them getting ready for bed.

“She’s the kind of CNA that administrators would cut their arm off to have,” Executive Director Randy Langford told McKnight’s. “She’s very dependable, you don’t have to babysit her, you don’t have to micromanage her. She does her job and you know good and well you’re not going to get any complaints.”

There’s a Cartagena in many care facilities and communities, though unfortunately not every one.

This was actually nothing new for the 14-year veteran, who put in the same long hours during 2017’s Thanksgiving dinner. That, along with numerous other acts of kindness, earned Cartagena a cash prize and the “Whatever It Takes and Then Some Award” from Life Care Centers of America earlier this year. It’s given annually for dedication to customer service. Hundreds of associates in LCCA’s Gulf States Region were nominated for the award — meant to honor “extraordinary acts of kindness”  — with eight individuals eventually selected overall in each division.

Cartagena said she enjoys her routine and doesn’t get flustered over having to stay late. Receiving recognition for her hard work was a moment she’d “never forget.” “I love my job. Taking care of my patients is my compassion. They make me feel wonderful,” she told McKnight’s.

As Thursday’s holiday arrives, Langford said he is thankful for all of the CNAs like Cartagena, who make his job easier. He would “carbon copy” five more of his star staffer, but doesn’t need to right now.

“I’m very grateful for the staff we have here,” he said. “Believe it or not, I have a lot of Herlindas in my building.”