around the systemSENIOR LIVING

To UHS Senior Living at Ideal:

We, the daughters of Irene Chmielewski, who was a resident at Ideal from November 2013 until her death in June 2014, want to say thank you for some very special care. Mom was a resident in the Skilled Nursing Facility -- first in the Rehab Unit and then in long-term care on Lily Court. She had lived in her own home until the age of 93, and in November was placed in the Rehab Unit at Ideal from a hospital.  

From our first contact with Brenda Papa in Admissions, we knew we had found the right place for Mom. She had worked on the Switchboard at Ideal many years ago when it was Ideal Hospital. Brenda called her "family" and found a place for her immediately. Mom felt like she was going "home," and, very quickly, the nurses, aides and entire staff became her second family.

We only know staff members by first names in most cases, but we want to mention them here for the very special care they all provided. From the watchful eye of Dr. Bertini to Diane at the front desk to Pamela Stimak in the Finance office, everyone treated Mom and all of us with such respect, patience and courtesy. They answered all of our questions and reassured us at every turn. How grateful we are to them all!

Dawn Chase on the Rehab Unit was Mom's case manager. She took many late-night phone calls from us, listened to all our concerns and advised us every step of the way. From Donna, the unit secretary, to Tiffany, our social worker, to the physical therapists, dietitians, laundry personnel and housekeeping staff, everyone did their very best to see that Mom was well taken care of, comfortable and happy.  

Maureen McPhee and Ashley Gibson, nurse practitioners, were such a blessing to all of us. They kept us apprised of Mom's changing situation, provided invaluable advice and always listened to our concerns. Their knowledge, expertise and professionalism were unmatched by anything we had ever experienced before.

When Mom was transferred to long-term care on Lily Court, we all found the same dedicated, loving care for her that we experienced in the Rehab Unit. The nursing staff -- Mario, Sasha, Jamie, Shannon, Nicole, Heather and Cathy, to name the ones we saw most often, were the most compassionate healthcare professionals we've ever known. They fast became family to Mom. She trusted them completely. They were all so patient, kind and respectful. We are forever in their debt.

Mom's aides were extra-special. We felt as if they had been chosen to be her very special angels. Anne was wonderful. She was Mom's aide from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days. Mom often remarked that she'd never seen anyone work so hard and so efficiently. If you wanted something done, you would ask Anne. She was so kind to Mom, who certainly had her bad days. Anne never seemed to mind, and always seemed to be able to get Mom to do what she was supposed to.

Donna came on from 3 to 11 most days, and had the most wonderful heart.  She, too, was so kind to Mom. The most difficult tasks were no match for Donna. She always put Mom's comfort and well-being ahead of everything. How Mom enjoyed Donna and was so grateful for all she did for her.

Diane was Mom's aide from 11 to 7. Nights were difficult for Mom. She was often afraid. Yet Diane took such special care of her that Mom soon learned to fear the darkness much less. Diane was with Mom right before she passed away. We know that brought great comfort to Mom and was great consolation for us all.

So many other aides helped with Mom's care these past months. We all came to know them well. Even when Mom wasn't directly their assignment, they took the time to stop in to see her, to visit, to brighten her day.

Ebony was originally assigned to Mom, but was transferred to another floor. How Mom missed her, but Ebony always found the time after her shift ended to stop in to see how Mom was doing. That meant so much! Shartrisse was such a blessing. She was in Mom's room every day just to say hello. While she was there, she'd do whatever she could to brighten Mom's spirits or lighten her mood. Her beautiful smile and gentle spirit will never be forgotten. Basma knew how to make Mom smile. When she learned that Mom was of Polish heritage, she had Mom teach her a few phrases in Polish. What a thoughtful thing to do.  In the end, it was what Mom remembered most.

And we would be remiss if we didn't mention Nick and Lashay. Mom had five daughters -- no sons. How wonderful that these two very kind and gentle men were some of Mom's very favorite people at Ideal. Even when they were assigned elsewhere, they took time to stop and see her.  What treasures they truly were for her.

There are so many more who, day after day, worked so hard to see that Mom and every other resident there had the very best care. How grateful we are to them all. We could never repay what they did for Mom. We sing Ideal's praises everyplace we go, and thank God every single day that Ideal was there when Mom needed it most. She truly felt at home and loved by her Ideal family.

The morning of the day Mom died provided for us an experience we will never forget, and which perhaps embodies all that we are trying to say. Mom's nurse, Shannon Michaletz, asked Mom if she needed anything. Mom very weakly shook her head "no." Then Shannon asked Mom if she needed a hug. Mom could barely nod "yes." Shannon removed her tags and reached out and held Mom tightly in her arms. Mom's weak and dying arms reached up to Shannon and held her tightly for what seemed like an eternity. What a gift Shannon gave Mom in that moment -- what a lesson for us all!

After all that medicine can do, what really matters most is that beautiful touch of one heart to another. That's the face of Ideal. Shannon wore it that day and so many others. And for that beautiful face, we all say thank you and God bless and reward you all for what you do for others.

With deepest gratitude,

Marcia Eckerson, for my sisters:

Bernadette Cobb

Karen Henderson

Geralyn Van Gorder

Joan Perez