Editor’s note: McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living are profiling the McKnight’s 2022 Women of Distinction honorees daily July 5 through Aug. 11. For additional McKnight’s Women of Distinction content, visit this page.

A series of tornadoes swept across the southern United States and Ohio Valley last December, decimating homes and taking the lives of numerous people.

Unluckily, one of those tornadoes came barrelling toward the residents of Monette Manor, a nursing home in Northeast Arkansas. Fortunately for them, Barbara Richards and colleagues were on duty.

Richards, a licensed practical nurse, happened to be present the night of Friday, Dec. 10 — the night the tornado came.

Seeing the forecast, Richards and her colleagues swiftly relocated residents to safer locations. There, they padded the doors — and people — as best they could.

Then, they waited for the worst.

Richard later told of seeing the rotating column of air burst through the facility’s front doors. At this point, she and other staff members covered their residents’ bodies with their own in a final attempt to ensure safety. She led them in the singing of hymns as they braced for the impact as the tornado continued to approach.

Monette Manor, and the surrounding area, were demolished.

Astoningshly, of the 67 residents present that night, 66 survived. One resident, a man in his 80s, sadly, passed away.

The death toll could have been much worse if Richards and others were not so quick-thinking. 

Owners plan to rebuild the facility following the disaster. Until then, Richards is working at another nearby skilled nursing facility. 

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors include OnShift and PharMerica, and the Bronze sponsor is Reliant Rehabilitation. Table sponsors included Dreamscape, Gojo/Purell and Sound Physicians.