CNA Liz Smolen enjoys being a people-focused professional

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Elzbieta “Liz” Smolen, enjoys working the second shift (2pm to 10pm) at KBH. The hours have worked out great while raising her family. And for 17 years, she’s been connecting with a close circle of coworkers who have become more like family members.

“We work very well together,” Liz said. “We help each other. We count on each other. We work as a team.” Liz also holds a special place in her heart for KBH residents. She likes to hear their stories, past and present. She takes time to learn about their lives, families, careers and interests. Liz knows the importance of personal engagement so that residents feel comfortable and at ease. “I take care of our residents just as I would my own mother,” she said. “I want them to feel safe with me and loved. My priority is to provide them with the best care possible.” Liz works primarily in Suzanne’s Place, but also assists in Health Care and Rose Wing. She is easily identified by her warm smile and friendly disposition. Liz came to Chicago with her husband, Ziggy, and their family in 1997, leaving her native Poland (with an established nursing background) to pursue new career and living opportunities. Her husband’s sister, who was already living in the city, helped the couple to find jobs and establish a new lifestyle. It wasn’t always easy but Liz and Ziggy were determined to work hard and build a strong foundation for the future.

Liz beams with pride when discussing her three adult children, Katarzyna (Kasia), Jakub, and Marcin who range in age from 22 to 29. All three were named after their grandparents and are pursuing careers in business accounting, film production, and criminal justice respectively. Kasia, recently engaged to a software engineer, will be married in London next year. Liz expects to be attending wedding receptions in Chicago, London and Poland that will include family members and friends. In her spare time, Liz likes to bake kolaczki, a family favorite. Her specialty flavor is apricot. She also likes to garden, overseeing beautiful beds of perennials and annuals. Her husband cultivates a vegetable garden with equal passion. “I just love to plant flowers,” Liz said. “I’m very  happy when I’m in my backyard.” Liz is content when surrounded by coworkers, residents, family members and friends. “I’m a people-person,” she said. “I truly love people.”