group of colleagues and family circled around an award winner at an industry dinner

Abernethy Laurels Nurse Aide Receives State Award

(February 28, 2024) – Ella JoAn Wells, a certified nursing assistant at Abernethy Laurels, was named District II Nurse Aide of the Year by the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association (NCHCFA) at their awards gala on February 19 in Greensboro, NC.

NCHCFA represents and supports nearly 400 member facilities providing quality care to residents of skilled nursing facilities (including long-term care and nursing home facilities) in North Carolina. The association was formed in 1955 and remains the state’s oldest and largest association dedicated to advancing the skilled nursing profession.

NCHCFA’s awards program acknowledges front-line unlicensed personnel who have exemplified outstanding achievements in the long-term care profession. They are chosen from five geographical regions throughout the state and nominated by their colleagues. Recognizing the winners at the February 19 gala was Jay Ludlam, Deputy Secretary for NC Medicaid.

JoAn Wells has been a member of the Abernethy Laurels team for 18 years and has worked in healthcare for 38 years. Her nominator shared that, “JoAn is a remarkable certified nurse aide with a strong dedication to caregiving. She forges deep relationships with the residents she cares for, treating them just as if they were her own family. She believes that caring for them like her own loved ones is essential and gives her life meaning and purpose. She understands and appreciates life in the moment.”

Nursing aides, or certified nursing assistants (CNAs), provide physical care to residents to meet their daily needs and enable them to function at the highest level possible. While CNAs provide care under the leadership of a professional nurse, the CNA is the resident’s closest advocate and helps build meaningful relationships, offering support, friendship, and kindness. The CNA also helps the resident engage with others socially and maintain a safe, clean environment. All of this is done in accordance with state and federal standards, guidelines, and regulations.

Ashley Jones, healthcare administrator at Abernethy Laurels, notes, “JoAn is a testament to the profound impact that dedicated healthcare professionals can have on the lives of individuals they care for. She is driven by the belief that her work is all about providing dignity for each resident. Her unwavering commitment and empathy shine through in her interactions with residents, making her an invaluable member to our healthcare team.”

As a not-for-profit, licensed, continuing care retirement community, Abernethy Laurels provides a continuum of care for older adults. It offers independent living cottages, villas, and apartments, along with assisted living, healthcare, memory care, therapy, and rehabilitation services.

Abernethy Laurels has also received state and national recognition for its Earn & Learn initiative, an in-house program that provides coursework and hands-on training for men and women interested in a career as a nursing assistant. Earn & Learn has currently prepared 15 classes of well-trained CNA professionals to provide Abernethy Laurels residents with the care they need. The program is approved by the State of North Carolina, delivers classroom and clinical training, and prepares students to sit for the State’s written and skills tests.

For more information about Abernethy Laurels, its services, and its amenities, call 828.464.8260 or visit

*Pictured in the photo: JoAn (center) is surrounded by (clockwise from lower left) Amber McIntosh, executive director at Abernethy Laurels; Aimee Reimann, COO of EveryAge; Sundee Jones, director of nursing; Greg Rossidivito, director of life enrichment; and JoAn’s daughters, Kirstie and Felicia.

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