Ded.i.ca.tion: The quality of being committed to a task or purpose.
The word that comes to mind when you spend any amount of time with Regana Holliday is Dedication. Regana has worked as a nurse at Peter & Paul Community Services’ Labre Center for 21 years and her loyalty and devotion to her clients is unmatched.
It all started when Regana saw a tiny “Nurse Needed” ad in the Southside Journal in 2002. She applied and got the job. Soon her skills with compliance were recognized, and she was put in charge of getting the center ready for numerous annual inspections. Regana made sure the center was following all rules to maintain certification by funders including the Missouri Department of Mental Health. She was soon recruited to work evenings at an agency for unhoused women called Shalom House.
“I’ve always held more than one job at a time. I love to work. I’m just not one to sit around. I worked full-time at Labre during the day and full-time at Shalom House in the evenings for 11 years,” Regana said. “After Shalom House closed, I worked full-time at the City Jail downtown and later at Queen of Peace Center.” This was all while remaining a standout employee working full-time at Labre Center.
When Labre clients tell her they are struggling, Regana understands. Decades ago, when her youngest son was a baby and her oldest son was 11, Regana’s husband went to prison. They divorced, and Regana had to find a way to support her family. When her youngest son turned one, she started nursing school full-time and worked full-time at a nursing home. “I started out as a Candy Striper at St. Louis City Hospital when I was a teenager, later became a Certified Nurse Assistant, a Certified Medication Technician and then finally got my nursing degree,” she said.
Regana’s duties now include being a nurse to each of the 15 residents challenged by serious and persistent mental illness who call Labre Center home. She works individually with each resident to ensure their medical appointments are scheduled and transportation is arranged. She oversees and records medication changes, and monitors clients’ health conditions.
One of the most fulfilling parts of my job is sitting with clients and explaining the purpose of their medications and teaching them how to manage their own medications. Medication compliance for a person with a mental illness is a critical step toward independence. Seeing them succeed brings me joy.
You might think that someone who works so much might not have time for anything else but Regana is not all work. She loves to swim and travel. Regana has been to Cancun so many times that once she hit her 20th visit, she stopped counting. On a trip to Puerta Vallarta, Regana and her husband met a family from South Africa and were planning a trip to visit them when the pandemic hit. She hopes to go in 2024.
Throughout her 21 years as the Labre nurse, Regana has helped hundreds of men and women create healthier, happier lives. Her above-and-beyond approach she has taken with two clients in particular reveals the deep devotion and care Regana has for all of her clients.
All Alone Mark
“Mark” has been served by PPCS for almost 30 years. Mark has no family and has been living with a severe mental illness since childhood. He has been able to live in his own apartment for the past 25 years because of Regana and other caring staff at the Labre Center.
Due to the severity of his need and lack of family support, the agency became Mark’s payee for his disability payments. Over the past 10 years, Regana has managed his finances and made sure his bills are paid. She set up his medication so each day he knew what pills to take and when. Regana spent hours making sure Mark became as independent as possible in his own apartment.
To this day, Regana continues to make sure Mark’s bills are paid and she checks on him to see if he needs anything. Mark is now so independent he needs very little help. He can organize and take his own pills. He grocery shops on his own, has made friends, cleans his own apartment immaculately, and rides the bus all over the city. Without Regana’s ongoing dedication to providing Mark with support in his apartment, Mark would not have succeeded in building an independent, fulfilling life for himself.
I love what I do here. and the clients have so much potential. They just need a lot of support at first and then often with just a few supports, can live independently and thrive. Peter & Paul is here for men and women who need this support.
“Walter” arrived at the Labre Center with an untreated mental illness. He thought he was in the music industry and people were stealing his royalties. His parents and extended family loved him and wanted to help him but couldn’t provide support due to his paranoia and aggressive behavior. At Labre, Walter was connected to a psychiatrist and primary care doctor who treated his chronic mental and physical health conditions. With assistance from Regana and staff, he took his medication every day which helped abate his hallucinations. He learned from staff how to distinguish his hallucinations from his other thoughts.
After two years of social services and mental health care at Labre, Walter was ready to move into his own apartment. Walter’s mother pleaded with Regana to let Walter stay at Labre for the rest of his life. She was so worried he would fail out on his own in the world. Regana promised Walter’s mother she would not let that happen.
After Walter moved into his own apartment, Regana visited him twice a day for the first four years to give him his medications. She worked with his family to help them take on some of his care including managing his doctor and psychiatric appointments, taking him grocery shopping, and encouraging him to reunite with his father and other family members from whom he had been estranged.
Walter’s mother couldn’t believe how great he was doing on his own and still is amazed at his transformation. She credits Regana’s unwavering support and commitment for his success.
Regana still visits Walter. She sets up a two-week pill planner for him and drops by every two weeks with his medications. She also acts as a backup for his family whenever necessary.
I made a promise to Walter’s mom, and I’m going to keep it.