Tameka Felts, ’08, MBA’13, began her career in healthcare in 1993 as a certified nursing assistant at Schoellkopf Health Center. She was inspired to go into healthcare because of her aunt, who also worked at Schoellkopf as a CNA and always encouraged Tameka to go back to school to take her career to the next level. Following the unexpected death of her aunt, Tameka earned her associate’s degree in nursing and, in 2006, she enrolled in Niagara University’s newly established RN-BSN program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2008 and went on later to earn her MBA with a concentration in healthcare administration.
The Niagara Falls, N.Y., native has worked in several different areas of nursing, and even gave travel nursing a try. But her affection for the elderly patients she cared for kept her coming back to Schoellkopf, where she has worked, off and on, for nearly 30 years. She currently serves as infection control preventionist for the facility.
“I love geriatric nursing,” Tameka said. “They just touch my heart. It’s the little things that they say, they’re so appreciative when it comes to nursing. That’s where I get my most joy, through the elderly.”
Tameka enjoys building relationships with her patients, like the woman with whom she shared a cup of coffee each morning she worked. Although the woman would be irritable until she had that first cup, Tameka was able to see the “heart of gold” that was hidden beneath her “rough exterior.” She arranged her schedule so she could play BINGO each week with the woman, and even helped to organize a celebration for her 100th birthday. When the woman passed away, “that hurt my soul,” Tameka said.
In addition to her work at Schoellkopf, Tameka volunteers with several local organizations. Giving back is something she was always taught, she said, and she especially feels a “sense of peace and enjoyment” when helping people in her community, especially those who, for one reason or another, won’t get medical care.
At Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier and Heart, Love & Soul, Tameka provides a variety of healthcare-related services, including blood pressure screenings and education on nutrition and diabetes. As a member of the Buffalo Black Nurses organization, she served Buffalo’s Jefferson Avenue community following the shooting at Tops supermarket.
“That was a different volunteering experience for me,” she said. “There was just an eerie feeling in that area, it was like a helplessness. A whole community was impacted. It wasn’t just a street or a person. It was a whole community.”
Along with the other members of the organization, Tameka did whatever was necessary to help ease the shock and pain the residents were feeling, assuring one woman that she would not leave until they were no longer needed.
The organization is currently launching a CPR initiative, motivated by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered cardiac arrest on the field during a Monday Night Football game in January. Partnering with UBMD and with grant funding from CVS, the members plan to go into the community to teach Hands-Only CPR.
Fittingly, their first training took place at Highmark Stadium, where they taught Buffalo Bills players and coaches the simple technique. They also manned a tent during Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival.
In recognition of both her personal and professional success, Tameka has received the Woman of Distinction Award from The God’s Woman organization, and was honored for Excellence in Healthcare by Buffalo Business First.
“It was a real shock to me,” she said of the recognition. “Someone’s noticing, and I’m just doing what I love to do, helping those who can’t help themselves. At the end of the day, if I can help one person, I go home with a sense of peace.”