Hilltop in the News

Hilltop Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation's Izzy Wells Named “Woman of Distinction” in National Skilled Nursing Competition

Newton, Ill., Resident Honored as a “Rising Star” for Significant Contributions to Skilled Nursing

CHARLESTON, Ill. (May 1, 2023) - Izabella (Izzy) Wells, Director of Nursing at Hilltop Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation in Charleston, Ill., has been named a 2023 "Woman of Distinction" by the McKnight's Women of Distinction awards program, one of the top national honors in the skilled nursing industry.

Izabella (Izzy) Wells
Izabella (Izzy) Wells

The Woman of Distinction Awards are a joint venture of skilled nursing publications McKnight's Long-Term Care News, McKnight's Senior Living, and McKnight's Home Care.

Wells - honored in the “Rising Star” category for her contributions to the field of skilled nursing - was selected by an external panel of industry experts. Rising Stars are women who are either less than 40 years of age or have fewer than 15 years of experience in the senior living, skilled nursing, or home care fields. All have demonstrated an exceptional commitment at the community or corporate level. The competition was open to all skilled nursing professionals in the U.S.

Being judged by your peers as someone who is making a difference in your chosen field is indeed an honor. Wells - a Newton, Ill., resident - has precisely done that, inspiring others and having a powerful effect on the lives of the individuals she serves. When she joined Hilltop, Wells quickly took on a wide range of responsibilities, from leading the nursing staff to overseeing the training of the healthcare team and coordinating resident care with physicians and other caregivers.

Enjoying Time With the Elderly

Wells began her nursing career early, working as an activity assistant while in high school. Later, while working as a dietary aide, “I remember listening to the nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) there, dreaming of the day I, too, would be a nurse,” she said. Even more, she realized sometime later that she most enjoyed the time spent with elderly patients.

“I'm passionate about my residents getting respect and being treated in the best ways possible,” Wells said. “As a team leader, I enjoy coaching people on the latest techniques so they can do their jobs in the best ways while being effective and well-organized. Even in my own job - whether overseeing CNAs and nurses, ensuring we're following guidelines, looking over medical orders, or helping to make decisions about sending people home - I know that to-do lists may soon have to be ripped up and rewritten.”

Hardworking, passionate, and determined, Wells has worked extraordinarily hard to get where she is, and she is driven by her love for those she serves. That love is evident in the way she speaks about them. “Residents always teach, whether offering relationship advice or sharing family recipes,” she said.

Her philosophy is simple and straightforward: Seniors have lived life and paid their dues. She wants them, and their families, to be able to know that in coming to her skilled nursing facility, they'll be taken care of. She knows that for most families, it's a hard enough decision to place a relative in a nursing home. “I don't want anyone regretting that they brought their loved one here,” Wells said.

All of this year's honorees will be celebrated on May 22 at the third-annual McKnight's Women of Distinction Forum ceremony at the W Hotel City Center in Chicago.

Hilltop Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation’s Newest Teammate Saves Choking Attendee at Local Healthcare Event

Effingham, Ill., Resident Jalen Carrillo Acted Fast at Yesterday’s Effingham Senior Center Lunch

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (April 14, 2023) – Being in the right place at the right time and keeping a cool head, Jalen Carrillo, the new Director of Business Development at Hilltop Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation in Charleston, Ill., saved a local senior citizen who began choking during yesterday’s lunch at the Effingham Senior Center.

Jalen Carrillo

“I just rushed over there and started giving her the Heimlich Maneuver. I had to do that for about 45 seconds, but it felt like an eternity." – Jalen Carrillo, Hilltop Skilled Nursing

Carrillo, who lives in Effingham, Ill., started his job just eight weeks ago. He is not a hands-on healthcare provider at Hilltop Skilled Nursing; rather, he works on the business operations side of the facility.

He was at a monthly “Lunch with a Doc” wellness clinic event at the Effingham Senior Center on April 13, 2023, when one of the senior citizen attendees seated near him began choking on her food.

“I was helping pass out lunch and a lady screamed that someone was choking,” Carrillo said. “I just rushed over there and started giving her the Heimlich Maneuver. I had to do that for about 45 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. I’m glad I was there. I was just doing what someone else would have done.”

He was able to clear the lady’s airway blockage and one of the other attendees called 911, with help arriving quickly. The lady who was choking was given a clean bill of health by the EMTs and she was actually able to stay for the remainder of the event.

After this close call – remarkably – Carrillo then addressed attendees, as planned, about Hilltop Skilled Nursing and its role as a compassionate provider of senior care.

A Baby on the Way Motivated Carrillo to Learn the Heimlich Maneuver

Carrillo learned basic first aid and the Heimlich Maneuver when his first child was nearing arrival. “Before I had kids, I went on YouTube to learn how to do emergency CPR on children,” he said. “I eventually became certified in the Heimlich Maneuver, and that was a good thing because I’ve had to use it on my young son several times.”

Directors of business development, such as Carrillo, are operations-side professionals who work with other healthcare providers, potential residents, and their family members to choose facilities that provide short- or long-term nursing care. He focuses on these marketing functions for Hilltop Skilled Nursing.

Carrillo has been in the skilled nursing industry about five years, when he began as a social service director at a healthcare facility in Effingham. He then became an assistant administrator, then the administrator, for a skilled nursing facility in Central Illinois, which he ran for about a year-and-a-half. Seeking to spend more time with his young family, he ventured into commercial insurance for a brief time, but realized caring for others was his calling.

“I have a passion for senior citizens and like to be around people,” Carrillo said. “I take my job to heart.”

About Hilltop Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Hilltop Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation is a 108-bed subacute and skilled nursing facility in Charleston, Ill., providing long-term care, short-term care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, rehab to home, hospice care, and respite care. The center is accepting new admissions for short-term rehabilitation, long-term skilled nursing care, and respite care. For more information, please call Bobbie Woolbright at (217) 259-9752 or visit the website at www.hilltop-snr.com.

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Charleston, IL 61920