LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - WKYT is continuing its in-depth look at the work of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. The organization, affiliated with the University of Kentucky, employs 125 people. One of them is an RN, and she’s gaining a reputation with her research participants.
On the morning we followed registered nurse Melanie Tillery, she was helping one of her 25 weekly patients at Sanders-Brown. Tillery makes personalized baskets for each one. The baskets come with blankets and small gifts.
“We have a lady who enjoys cooking magazines, so she’ll bring her cooking magazines so she has something to do while she’s in the room. We have a lady who was sort of disappointed that she wasn’t able to get her nails done as much as she used to, and so Melanie went out and bought her a little manicure kit and some fingernail polish, and so while she was in her infusion she sat and gave her a little manicure,” says co-worker Barbara Martin. “She is above and beyond every day.”
Philip Wagner is part of an auto-injector sub study testing the drug Leqembi, the brand name for the Alzheimer’s treatment Lecanemab. Wagner used to come into the center and work with Tillery every two weeks. He and his wife now come in every six.
“We talk about their family, travels, you name it. We talk about everything. We try to pass the time. I try to make them comfortable while they’re here. Whether it’s giving them a blanket to keep them warm, or a magazine to read, I have puzzles for them to do. Sometimes I do a manicure on them. And I send out a birthday card for them, or a Christmas card. Without them, we don’t have research. They’re the heart of what we do,” explains Tillery.
Tillery’s heart for nursing started 24 years ago. She graduated from EKU, and went to work at UK. She started working with dementia patients seven years ago, and then in June, she joined the team at Sanders-Brown.
“During the pandemic they had a shortage of people, somebody had left over here, and they asked the boss here, asked my other boss, if they knew anybody who could help fill in. So I come in here and started filling in and I thought, ‘wow, I really like this.’ And my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, so I always had a little piece of me that wanted to see something good happen.”
Tillery is optimistic about the results of the trials run through the center. She believes her participants are benefiting from them.
“We hope here. It’s not about the bad, the good, the bad, the ugly. It’s about being hopeful. And that’s what they come here for. They’re all about hope,” she says.
Sanders-Brown is always looking for volunteers and donations. You can sign up at medicine.uky.edu/centers/sbcoa.