Franciscan Caring People Caring For People

THROUGH MY EYES

 

 

Resident Maggie Winchester Shares Her Views of
Price Memorial

Residents at Price Memorial come from many walks of life -- with greatly varying individual needs and interests.

 

Among them is Maggie Winchester, an extremely outgoing lady who brings a special view of life at Price Memorial. A 1934 Washington University graduate, Maggie spent her professional life as a registered nurse -- working at St. Mary's, St. John's, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

 

With that much nursing and patient care under her belt, Maggie could easily evaluate life in a nursing home -- or probably be its harshest critic if she were of a mind to.

 

"Wonderful," she comments. "The facilities here are wonderful. Inside, outside -- it's nice here," she says with regard to Price Memorial.

 

"But, I hate to get up in the mornings," Maggie notes. "I was a night-shift nurse, and I've just never gotten used to getting up early."

 

Nevertheless, she says she's usually out of bed by 7 or 7:30, and down to the dining room for breakfast by 8. Later, she joins in the Price Memorial "Morning Coffee Chat" sessions -- where residents get together to discuss news of the day or any other topics that interest them.

 

What else does she do to occupy her time? "I like to call my daughters to see how they're doing. I have three of them in St. Louis." She also has two sons: one in California and one in Arizona.

 

"Bingo is one of my favorite things here," she continues. "We play about twice a week -- for the fun of it and for little prizes."

 

What about the care she receives?

 

"The food's pretty good -- and will be as long as I don't have to cook or do the dishes!" she says spryly. "And, the nursing care is good." Then, she jokingly adds: "Of course, if I were in charge...!"

 

On a more serious note, Maggie has nothing but praise for the therapy she received when she came to Price Memorial. The significant strides accomplished with her rehabilitation brings nothing but compliments and thanks from her for the staff involved.

 

Formerly retired and living in Arkansas, Maggie returned to Pacific about three years ago. It was there that she learned of Price Memorial and the care it provides.

 

Typical of her good humor and wit, she closes with a comment about running into the administrator, Brother John Spila.

"I saw him in the hall, and he asked me how I was doing," she says. "Fine, I told him. You gonna hire me when I get well?!"

 

 

Resident Benjamin Abrams Shares His Views

With some people, you can just tell when they enter the room that they're going to be friendly and interesting to talk with. Benjamin Abrams is one of those people.

 

Known by people as Ben, this good-natured, seven-year resident was born in St. Louis in August of 1936. Until multiple sclerosis slowed him down later in life, he was very active -- as evidenced by his 29 years as a truck driver for Associated Grocers. Still spirited, Ben enjoys a good conversation -- and doesn't hesitate to speak his mind about most things."

 

"I love to eat -- and it shows!" he says in response to a question about his favorite activities and pastimes. His favorite meal of the day? "I'd have to say breakfast," he answers. "I love those biscuits and gravy. You can probably tell just by looking at me," he laughs.

 

"And, I love to smoke," he says. "They say its bad for you, and they're probably right. But, I really enjoy it. It's one of my favorite things."

 

Ben also looks forward to "Coffee Chat" each day -- a 9 a.m. gathering of residents who get together to chit-chat about whatever comes up.

 

"We talk about everything," he says. "Usually stuff that's in the news, but anything else, too. Every day 6-8 of us usually sit around at Coffee Break and talk about whatever comes up."

 

What else does Ben enjoy under the Brothers' care? A wide variety of both planned and unplanned activities. For example, he attends the facilities' parties -- for birthdays and special occasions such as Christmas.

 

He goes to church services at the on-site chapel. When he feels able, Ben participates in the recreational therapy program, including crafts where he says they enjoy "just making junk."

 

"I like watching TV," he adds. "Especially westerns." And, among his favorite things to do: getting outside in the fresh air. "In the summer, when we have really nice weather, I just sit and enjoy it."

 

And, what does Ben think of the nursing home as a place to live?

 

"They have really good help here," he says. "They do their best." And, then, he summarizes: "I like being here."

 

 

In-Laws Sanders and Williams Share Their Views of Price Memorial

She fell and broke her hip. He had a stroke. Now this mother-in-law and her son-in-law are together at Price Memorial, a facility that they both have praise for.

 

Thirty-three years ago, John Williams married Pamela, daughter of Susan Sanders. All have lived in Fenton for a long time. And, it's unusual that two of them would end up at the same nursing facility these many years later.

 

How did it happen? When Susan broke her hip in 1996 and it became clear that specialized care would be needed, she says her relatives "went shopping." They got information from and visited many facilities, and "they fell in love with Price Memorial," she recalls. She's been at the Eureka nursing home since December '96.

 

John had often visited Susan at Price and -- after he had his stroke in 1997 -- decided that he, too, would go to Price for the rehabilitative care he needed. So, a year after Susan arrived at Price, John joined her there in December '97.

 

"This is a beautiful place," Susan says. "I love it. The care is very good, and the scenery is great."

 

John agrees. "This is the cleanest place I've ever seen," he comments. "The staff here is courteous and friendly -- and I love the therapists."

 

Both mother-in-law and son-in-law have fairly busy days at the facility. Susan receives physical therapy aimed at getting her ambulatory with a walker. She's especially fond of her work in arts and crafts at the facility: "I love it," she says. "We're starting to make things for St. Patrick's Day -- shamrocks made from bows. I've also made little birds to decorate the walls in my room," she adds.

 

Susan goes regularly to mass at Price -- the four days it's offered each week -- along with rosary on Wednesdays. In her spare time, she visits with friends she's made at the facility, enjoying the companionship of others.

 

Plans are for John to go home in early March. He, too, receives therapy at Price -- a good deal of it, given his recent stroke -- including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. According to staff members, he's made outstanding progress.

 

"Last month we went and did the house check," he says. "That's when people from here and I go to the house to see what changes need to be made to prepare for my return. We found out that we do need to change a few things -- including my favorite old chair, which I can't get in and out of now."

 

Both Susan and John think the food at Price is good. John is particularly fond of the chili. Susan's only complaint is that she can't enjoy the pies and cakes made at the facility, because she's diabetic.

 

Both say they receive fine care at Price Memorial. In addition to characterizing staff members as friendly and compassionate, the therapists again rank high. "Those girls are just great!" comments Susan.

 

What advice would they give to others who need nursing home care? "Go there," she says. "It's great, and I love it." He replies, "The people here do the very best they can. We think it's the best."

 

 

Resident Paul Dixon Shares His Views

Ask Paul Dixon about life at the Brothers' facility, and he'll share a wealth of information with you -- and pictures to boot!

 

Born in Humboldt, Tennessee, Paul has lived in Nashville and St. Louis. In June of 1972, he came to the nursing home, where he's been an active resident ever since.

 

He speaks of the special events held at the facility, including the parties.

 

"I was crowned king at the Mardi Gras party here in March," he shares. "And, it was fun dancing at the Leap Year Party that we had on the fourth floor on February 29."

 

It's easy to tell by listening to Paul that his involvement in the reading program is one of his favorites. "I get a big kick out of it," he says, referring to the cooperative program where residents read once a month to third-graders in Eureka.

 

"It's fun, and I like the kids," he adds. A participant in the program for six years now, Paul recalls reading books such as That's What Friends Are For and The Boy Who Didn't Want to Go to School.

 

Ask him about "the log cabin," and he's clearly proud of his work on the year-long project.

 

"I worked with three or four other people here when we were asked to make the cabin," he says. "We used plasterboard, bark from the woods, and rocks to make it. The furniture inside is hand-made, too."

 

The doll-house-style cabin is now on display in the school library in Eureka.

 

What does Paul like best about the care he receives? Many things: the Brothers, the activities, the care and the companionship.

 

"The grounds here are beautiful," he adds. "They're pretty all year 'round.

 

"What I really like best is making new friends all the time," he concludes. "That, and helping people out."

 

 

Resident Marigold Smithers Shares Her Views of Price Memorial

Don't let that wheelchair fool you! According to Marigold Smithers, "I'm up every morning when the lights go on." And, at Price Memorial, that's about 5:30 a.m.

 

Now going on her fifth year as a resident, Marigold previously worked for 33 years in St. Louis for the Corps of Engineers. She retired in the early 1980s, and lived in an apartment at Plaza Square in downtown St. Louis until she came to live at Price Memorial.

 

Outgoing and sociable, Marigold leads a relatively independent life -- primarily caring for herself and looking after her needs with some assistance from staff members.

 

"She's a remarkable lady," says Sandy Kombrink, associate administrator, "especially considering that she had a stroke about two years after she came here. At the time, it left her pretty well incapacitated."

 

But, Marigold has made quite a come-back. With the physical and occupational therapy provided at Price Memorial, along with the ongoing care of the nursing staff, Marigold today is spry and lively. Not only is she up at the crack of dawn, her days are busy ones.

 

"I like to go outside when the weather's nice," she says. "I enjoy the scenery and how pretty the grounds here are. It's nice just to sit outside and pray."

 

A religious lady, Marigold attends mass daily at Price Memorial. She also enjoys watching television -- and talking with her friends from Plaza Square.

 

"I have my telephone, and I call my friends once or twice a day," she says. "In a way, they're my life-line to days gone by."

 

Although she describes herself as "pretty much a loner," Marigold enjoys the special events that are held at Price Memorial on a continuing basis. She recalls the annual Older Americans Celebration, along with the monthly birthday parties, Christmas-time activities, and watermelon parties.

 

"I like the special food that's prepared for these parties -- and the extra effort that the staff puts into them," Marigold says. According to Kombrink and others, she never fails to go out of her way to extend her personal thanks to participating staff members.

 

"If someone were to ask me for advice on living here, I'd tell them it'd be a good place to come," she says.

 

With residents like Marigold around, that's easy to believe.

 

 

Resident Josh Boyd Shares His Views

Sixty-four-year-old Josh Boyd is a busy man. Even his interview for this story in Caring had to be postponed because it conflicted with his Thursday bowling in House Springs.

 

Ask him about his activities, and he will list many. He enjoys working with ceramics. His relatives from St. Louis and the surrounding areas come to visit him. There's the Catholic mass offered daily at the facility. He's still a dues-paying member of the Knights of Columbus. And, at this time of year, also is involved in practicing with the Christmas choir at Price Memorial.

 

Having come to the Brothers' facility from his home in Valley Park, Josh is retired from the wheel and rim business. The company where he worked for 27 years is a distributor for these parts of cars, trucks and tractors. When he learned about the facility from his cousins, he decided to move there last April.

 

"I've gained 30 pounds since I've been here," he says. "It's a fine place with three very good "squares" a day." This reference to meals at the facility is one of many such that he makes, being particularly fond of the roast beef, pies and biscuits.

 

"The camaraderie here is excellent," he says. "We take care of one another -- in some ways it's better than a real family."

 

Lively and outgoing, Josh can be quite the conversationalist. When asked what he'd tell a friend or relative who needs nursing home care, he quickly responds that he'd recommend the nursing home. Especially, he says, for Catholics -- whom he notes can continue to fulfill the commitments of their faith at the facility.

 

 

Against Great Odds: Two Residents Share Their Views of
Price Memorial

Even if they haven't spent any time in Las Vegas, bought a lottery ticket, or placed a friendly wager on a baseball game, most people know something about "the odds" involved. The odds equate to "What's the chance of something happening?" In Las Vegas, the odds are in favor of the casino. One hears that the chances of winning the big Benpot in a lottery are greater than being struck by lightening.

 

Patricia Brach and Joan Pierce have won against great odds. What is the likelihood that -- after 30 years of not seeing or hearing from each other -- two sisters would be reunited by chance because they came to live in the same skilled nursing facility?

 

That's what happened with Joan and Patricia.

 

"It was truly incredible," said Sue Brown, Joan's daughter. "We were in the process of looking for a facility for my mother -- checking a number of places in the area. We'd never heard of Price Memorial but, as we were driving around, we saw the roof from the road we were on.

"I said, 'That looks like a nursing home,' and so we went to see it," Sue continued. "Not long after mother was admitted at the end of February last year, she began to say to us, 'Patricia is here.' Of course, we didn't believe her -- we thought maybe her memory was playing tricks on her.

Joan recalls it, too.

 

"I'd hear her voice sometimes," she said. "It reminded me of my sister's voice. One day I heard one of the staff say 'Patricia Brach,' and I thought it really could be my sister."

 

Joan recalls that, sitting in the dining room at Price Memorial, a lady across the room would wave at her from time to time. She didn't think she knew the person, and things went along like that for a while.

 

Then, about a year ago on Easter weekend, Sue was visiting her mother when the subject came up again. Joan kept telling her daughter that Patricia was there. Having finally heard enough about it, Sue went to the nurses and inquired. Upon checking, the background information in Patricia's file confirmed that she was, indeed, Joan's long-lost sister.

 

"When we called our family members and told them, they were shocked," commented Sue. "We all decided that it was 'meant to be' -- that they'd be reunited after all these years."

 

Separated by a family dispute in 1969, Joan and Patricia finally are together again. And, what do they do? Enjoy each other's company and, Sue noted laughingly, "They're sisters -- a couple of hard-headed Germans -- they argue!" But now in good-humored, playful ways.

 

Because of her medical condition, Patricia doesn't talk much. But, as Joan recalls, "She used to give the boys hell!" When she's not with her sister, Patricia can often be found near the nurses' station -- watching and 'supervising' the people who work at Price Memorial. And, she always welcomes her favorite treats: candy and donuts.

 

Joan likes to play cards. In fact, she says she's a gambler. Each Sunday, her daughter takes her to one of the riverboat casinos where she enjoys playing the quarter and dollar slot machines before they have dinner and return to Price Memorial.

 

Both sisters have good things to say about the facility. But, in their case, it has special meaning. They were reunited at Price Memorial and can now be with each other every day.

 

What are the odds of that happening? Maybe Joan would have some idea. She's the gambler!

 

 

Friends Walker and Johnson Share Their Views

When many people think of life in a nursing home, they picture residents as isolated and lonely. It's one of the many myths about nursing home care -- others are noted in the "Myths and Realities" section that appears elsewhere on this website.

 

In fact, nursing home residents are not inevitably faced with loneliness. In addition to the many socially oriented activities planned by a facility's staff members, residents often find companionship just like everyone else in life: from those around them.

 

Ron Walker and Fred Johnson are two such residents. Circumstances in each of their lives brought them to St. Joseph's Hill. They'd never known each other prior to arriving at the facility. And, now, they're friends -- buddies and companions who spend time together.

 

Ron lived in House Springs and worked at General Motors in St. Louis for 32 years. Fred was born in Dexter, Missouri, lived in St. Louis, and retired.

 

"Ron likes to smoke," says Fred. "That's how he spends a lot of his time."

 

"Fred likes to eat," adds Ron. "Eating and sleeping are the ways he enjoys himself."

 

The two clearly enjoy each other's company, exchanging glances as they talk about their lives at St. Joseph's Hill.

 

"I was at St. Anthony's when I learned I couldn't completely take care of myself any more," says Ron. "I'd never heard of this place, but my niece knew a lot about it and recommended it. It's nice here."

 

"I came here from the V.A.," says Fred. "I'd never heard of it either, but this is where they decided to send me. I like it here."

 

The two friends agree on almost every aspect of life at the nursing home. They say the nursing care is good, the food is "pretty good," that they're treated well, and that it's "a nice place -- really it is."

 

Fred and Ron attend the special events that are held at the facility -- events ranging from birthday parties and holiday celebrations to outdoor barbecues and other social activities.

 

"These fellows are a great example of social interaction in a nursing home setting," says Sandy Kombrink, a member of the administration. "While we have many organized activities that are designed to keep people socially active, there are many informal opportunities for residents to find companionship -- including among themselves."

 

Ron and Fred say that they'd recommend the facility to any one who needs nursing home care. In fact, Ron goes a step further: "It's not like being at home. But, it's the next thing to it."

 

 

Resident Joan Brown Talks About Her Life and Price Memorial

Cheerful and full of vitality, Joan Brown is a great conversationalist who loves to talk with people. She's the kind of person who wants to be as independent as she can -- one of those people with a positive attitude that shows and uplifts others.

 

"I've always stayed active," Joan says. "Be it with my volunteer work at the United Church of Christ, with the Girl Scouts, with being a den mother for the boys, or helping out at their schools -- I kept busy."

 

In addition to these outside interests, she worked most of her life for the Missouri Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicle Division. "I always enjoyed my work and found it to be challenging," she says. "I always wanted a job where I could use my mind."

 

A prolific writer of letters, Joan says, "I love to stay in touch -- not only with the people here -- but also the world outside." She has two sons and two daughters, four grandchildren, and great grandchildren who soon will number a half dozen. Joan keeps track of and talks about each of them and their accomplishments in life.

 

Typical of her outgoing, social nature she recounts a visit last Christmas by several members of her church. "It got to be about 8:30 at night, and one of the nurses joked with us and asked, 'Am I going to have to put a curfew on this party?' We all had such a good time!" she recalls.

 

Joan also keeps busy at Price Memorial by participating in many of the facility's activities -- "The ones I like," she laughs. She's particularly fond of the animal visits held in conjunction with the Missouri Humane Society -- especially visits by Lucas, a dog trained for nursing home therapy. "I just love that little dog," Joan says. "We always had pets, and it's nice to enjoy them here, too."

 

She also looks forward to the Price Memorial musical programs -- especially the sing-alongs led by the facility's recreational therapist. "I know all the songs, and we have a good time singing," she recalls.

 

"Everyone is good to me here," Joan says. "The staff -- and especially the night nurse, Brenda. She's a sweetheart, and she keeps everyone on their toes! I like them all -- Susan the evening nurse -- and Betty on days. They have their hands full!

 

"The staff and the nurse assistants try hard to help," she adds. "I always get help when I ask for it."

 

Joan has kind words for her home at Price Memorial. For a while, she lived with each of her daughters for several years, and then at a retirement center. She started to need help with some things, and she says that living with children "just doesn't work well. I love my kids, but not to live with." She's pleased that her family -- after looking at several places -- chose Price Memorial for her. "My daughter picked a good place for me," she adds.

 

In her closing comments, Joan talked about Brother John, the administrator of Price Memorial. "I like it that he sits in the dining room and visits at mealtime. It shows that he really cares about us and what we think. Everybody here does. It's just a friendly place."

 

 

Resident Kent Samuels Talks About His Life

The nursing home abounds with activities and events designed to serve the needs and interests of its residents. From therapy to coffee chats -- from picnics to religious services -- from parties to resident outings -- there's a full schedule at the Brothers' long-term-care facility.

 

These varied activities appeal to many residents and help to keep their days active and fulfilling. However, they're not everyone's cup of tea. Individual tastes and preferences lead many to choose other ways to spend their time.

 

For example, there's Kent Samuels. A shy and quiet gentleman by nature, Kent's preference is to read. His solitude is important to him, as are his books and other material.

 

"They always invite me to go to the parties and get-togethers, " Kent says. "I appreciate it, but I usually just say no. I'd rather be alone and read most of the time."

 

Kent, however, is a devoutly religious person. He finds daily comfort in attending mass and rosary, and says, "It's an important part of my life." That, coupled with his voracious appetite for reading, keeps him content.

 

A YMCA custodian for 25 years, Kent is proud of his work in life. He cherishes the recognition plaque he was given for his service -- and points it out proudly where it hangs on the wall in his room. He later served as a custodian at Cardinal Ritter Institute, where he lived for five years before moving to the Brothers' facility.

 

Why did he choose this place? Kent relates that his father had been a resident there in the mid-1930s. His sister, Sophie Ruether, says that a close friend of their family had been a resident and highly recommended the facility to their family.

 

Having been familiar with the nursing home for more than 60 years, Kent had many good memories and direct experiences on which to base his decision. He not only remembers several of the older Brothers when they were young men, he also recalls past events at the home.

 

"My sister would bring her five children, her husband and me to visit here," Kent smiles as he recounts. "We'd have a picnic outside on the beautiful grounds here and just relax and enjoy the day."

 

What does he like about the place today? First of all, he gives the housekeeping staff high marks. "They always keep my room clean and neat," he says. "See, just look around!"

 

When it comes to eating, he's easy to please. "I'm not a big food person," notes Kent. "As long as it's nutritious, that's all I care about. There's no particular food I like -- and none that I don't like." Word has it, however, that he does have a fondness for chocolate-covered peanuts.

 

Finally, Kent commented on the care that he receives as a resident. "The nursing staff is always here to help with any needs I have. It's good to know that you can always count on them -- and they're all very kind."

Read, in Their Own Words, What Our Residents Have to Say

 

"Wonderful. The facilities here are wonderful. Inside, outside -- it's nice here."

"They have really good help. I like being here."

"It's great, and I love it."

"The grounds here are beautiful. They're pretty all year 'round."

"If someone were to ask me for advice on living here,

I'd tell them it'd be a good place to come."

"What I really like best is making new friends all the time."

"My daughter picked a good place for me."

"It's not like being at home. But, it's the next thing to it."

 

One way to learn more about a nursing home and how it meets residents' needs is to talk with the people who live there. The following resident views were taken from a series of interviews that were conducted to develop articles for the Franciscan Caring newsletter. The residents' names and some caregivers' names have been changed to protect their privacy on the Internet.

 
 

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