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How St. Anthony’s Helps Wichita Seniors

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A Letter from the Director of Nursing


This afternoon one of our patients left us to go home.  The mood on the unit was somber all afternoon as we waited the family to come and pick her up. Most of us secretly wished that her family would leave her with us for one more night.

You see, she was special to us, as all of our patients are. When she came to us she was cursing, informing us in colorful words and phrases that she “would not do a darn thing” because she did not want to be with us. We kept our mission of “Improving Lives. Exceeding Expectations.” in mind and encouraged her daily to participate. As our program grew we found a few things that really sparked the gleam in her eyes.

The first being “Motown Moving” where our Unit Clerk would lead the patients in moving to some of the smooth sounds of Motown. What we did not realize was this was the key to getting her to open up and participate in activities that would benefit her. We witnessed her recall information that for some is lost forever.  The second was Spa Hour. She loved a good flat iron for her hair and would make sure to let us know if we were using too much grease.  The final activity was K9 therapy.  She loved Charlie and would spend all of her time with him, even while drifting to sleep. JK was also very complimentary of our chef and would often request specials from him.

3:30 p.m. came this afternoon. The staff took turns saying goodbye. She cried and kissed us all. Her sister thanked us, letting us know that she had never been a people person, and that she appreciated our work with her. She could see that she had really opened up. One last time we cranked up Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”. She loved and grooved with us - tears rolling down her face - we had tears rolling down ours too. Staff walked her out to her car.

A few moments later she was back. Was it a Christmas miracle? Not quite. She was requesting a cheeseburger from to-go. She let me know that her family could wait and told him to put the burger on. When he handed her the cheeseburger she looked down at the container and said, “Well, I can get this with this.” And walked her sassy self out of the front door.

This is why we do what we do. The journey had been hard, frustrating and long.  But it’s days like today that put it in perspective for our staff.  We are thankful for the opportunity we have been provided to serve the community and give back to our seniors.

DeShaun Willingham
Director of Nursing
St. Anthony’s Senior Care Hospital