Holding considerable expertise in long-term and post-acute care nursing, Sandra Payne Kenton excelled as a nurse for decades before her eventual retirement. She concluded her career as a director of nursing, a role that saw her responsible for the managerial and leadership development of the nursing staff, presiding over clinical start-up meetings with interdisciplinary personnel, and managing the clinical aspects of state and federal surveys to ensure compliance, including a deficiency-free survey. Other notable work of hers includes the time she spent with a nursing home, where she helped them manage a status crisis regarding a special focus facility. Through her intervention, she was able to prevent the facility’s closure. Over the course of her career, Ms. Kenton spent time with the health and aging departments of three Pennsylvania counties.
In addition to her primary responsibilities, Ms. Kenton has been involved in a wide range of charitable endeavors, including Operation Smile. She helped to raise more than $1 million as the executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of Operation Smile and volunteered her skills as a nurse with the group’s efforts to provide free reconstructive surgery to children in Nicaragua. In her retirement, she remains active as a supporter of the Inglis House, which provides funds for technology aids for people with disabilities, having previously sat on the board. Furthermore, Ms. Kenton has left a legacy as an instrumental figure in AIDS advocacy for the Philadelphia area.
Attributing much of her success to the support she received from her colleagues and mentors, Ms. Kenton is particularly grateful to Fran Hughes of HCR ManorCare, now ProMedica Senior Care. Ms. Hughes saw Ms. Kenton’s leadership qualities and encouraged her to take a nursing certification course, which started her on the path to long-term care nursing. Today, she strives to give back that support by aiding in the growth of younger professionals in the field. She recalls one young woman in particular whom she helped on her path to becoming a nursing home administrator. Ms. Kenton notes that she always encourages individuals interested in directorial roles to complete the nursing course offered by the Pennsylvania Association of Directors of Nursing Administration.
Ms. Kenton was inspired to a career in nursing by her parents, especially her father, who had survived an aneurysm as an adolescent. First earning a bachelor’s degree in American studies at Rosemont College, she then joined the Jefferson College of Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University. During her studies, she notably captained the college’s basketball team and ultimately achieved a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1965. Remaining involved with her alma mater, she helped the basketball team to win a state scholarship in 1967. Over the course of her career, Ms. Kenton received additional certifications in long-term care nursing and nursing home administration from the Pennsylvania Association of Directors of Nursing Administration, where she remains an active member.
Empathy was always key to Ms. Kenton’s nursing practice, as was remaining true to herself, continued education, abiding by sound principles and hard work. She continues to bring this work ethic to her civic endeavors, which includes her regular support of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America as an annual donor. Previously, she initiated the Juliet Gordon Low Award program to help raise funds for the southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Girl Scouts in the 1980s. Ms. Kenton has also spent time on the board of the Saunders Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and was a board member and co-chair of the bicentennial gala for the Episcopal Academy.
For her excellence, Ms. Kenton has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades, including the Good Neighbor Award from ElderNet in 2017. She was previously recognized by the Catholic Youth Organization with an award for helping raise funds and mentor children. Mother to two children and grandmother to three grandchildren, Ms. Kenton looks forward to seeing her grandchildren graduate from college and lead meaningful lives, one is an aspiring writer living in Los Angeles and another works in digital marketing with the Lehigh Valley Health Network. Her plans for the future also include working on family genealogy and writing a book.