For Nina Vilaomat, opening the Palmetto Bay Senior Center in September was a chance to return to what she loves best — caring for the elderly. Her adult daycare center was the ideal choice.
“This has always been my dream job,” Vilaomat said. “Now I’m happy. After years of being in healthcare I went and got my license and opened this center.”
She had run a small facility in South Miami Heights back in the 1990s, then sold the business. She worked at one of the hospitals for 14 years, then knew it was time for a change.
“I decided that this is really what I like to do,” Vilaomat said. “Even when I was there I told my co-workers I want to go back into elderly care.”
She views the center as a caring social club for senior adults to spend time on weekdays and to keep their minds active.
“The adult participant most of the time gets very bored alone in their house,” Vilaomat said. “They don’t even feel like cooking for themselves. Sometimes they don’t even watch TV and they fall into a deep depression.”
Vilaomat said that those using her center are picked up at 8 a.m., usually have their breakfast before 9 a.m., and have a regular hot meal for lunch at 12:30 p.m. They go home after 4 p.m., but Vilaomat is there until 5:30 p.m., sometimes later if need be.
The Palmetto Bay Senior Center has hobbies, movies, television, bingo, dominoes, arts and crafts, physical fitness for age group and more. The goal is to keep the minds of participants sharp and active. But it’s not just activities.
“We have a nurse who comes three hours a day to monitor blood pressure, glucose, medications and health,” Vilaomat said. “If there is anything to be reported she will report it to the participant’s doctor.”
Vilaomat is specifically licensed to take care of Alzheimer participants. She studied healthcare administration at St. Thomas University and has obtained the required certifications. Her licenses are on the wall.
“You have to stimulate their minds more than the other ones.”
Transportation to the center is free and there are a variety of insurance plans. She gets involved with her participants and goes the extra mile to accommodate them and take care of their needs. Those there seem to appreciate that effort.
Juan Capetillo explained why he likes it.
“It’s new and it’s refreshing, and I’m teaching them here tri-dominoes, and they learn it real quick,” he said.
“I like very much being here in the center because I blossom. I like the activities that are here,” Benicia Garcia said.
Ruby Clark was bashful about having her picture taken, but was happy to talk about the center.
“I like it here because it has great potential,” Clark said. “For the elderly that need a daycare, this daycare is likely to go on and on. Besides the arts and crafts and all the games, we have a lady who cares about you. Nina really cares about people. She makes sure that you keep in good health. She makes sure that you take your medications. And she’s really tender with the people. She’s caring, and I would recommend this place to anybody because it has a great future for anyone who wants someone to care about them.”
The Palmetto Bay Senior Center is located at 9845 E. Fern St. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on weekends. For information call 786-470- 5547 or 305-233-6866.