Family Writes Heartfelt Letter to S-wing Staff: featured in the Post Star May7,2020

A Group of Heroes Beyond the Statistics – This is My Story
. . .and My Expression of Thanks
The statistics do not always tell the whole story. Behind all of the numbers and graphs there is
an underlying story – actually many of them – hidden from view that the numbers simply cannot
convey.They are the stories that have been lost amongst the figures, percentages and
pretty-colored graphs.
Recently, amid the coronavirus crisis, there has been a noticeable amount of attention being
given to nursing care facilities.They are disparaging enumerations that are critical in nature,
not to mention judgmental and accusatory. I cannot speak to the whole of all nursing facilities,
for my experience is limited to one – the Fort Hudson Nursing Facility, namely the S-Wing unit.
Within the walls of this unit is my story.
My Dad was a resident of the Fort Hudson S-Wing – the dementia unit – and among those who
have died at this facility as a result of the coronavirus. I have only praise and gratitude to these
very special individuals of S-Wing who cared for my Dad, not only in his battle with the virus, but
in his battle with Alzheimer’s.
Placing loved ones in a nursing facility is never an easy decision, as it comes with feelings of
guilt and inadequacy once you come to the realization (usually later than you should have) that
you are no longer capable, nor have the expertise to adequately care for them.We vowed never
to put our parents in a nursing home, a vow that we broke in order to ensure our Dad was not
only safe, but could receive the best care and quality of life possible.
From the moment my Dad walked into the Fort Hudson S-Wing unit, he was treated with dignity,
respect and compassion. He entered a world where frustration slowly evaporated and he could
relax his defenses, no longer fearing others would discover his diminished mental abilities and
find him lacking. He became part of a very special family he not only fit into, but was lovingly
welcomed into. Dementia is a horrific disease that robs so many of so much, that until someone
has experienced it first-hand, it is nearly impossible to comprehend of the reality of living it. For
us,my Dad included, the Fort Hudson S-Wing became our answer to prayers.
I was a frequent visitor of the S-Wing unit, and saw first hand what goes on within its walls.The
individuals that are the staff of this unit are not simply people who work there.They are people
who seem to have a calling to the profession of caregiving.There is something within them,
something about them that defies explanation.These individuals truly care about the residents.
It is a dedicated group who comprise a harmonious team devoted to those in their charge.
Before the coronavirus was even a part of our world, I considered the Fort Hudson S-Wing
our personal miracle.After years of trying to care for my Dad, dealing with the frustration and
feelings of inadequacy that come with caring for a demented loved one,we found ourselves
not only frustrated, but exhausted and at a point of no longing knowing what to do. It was a
daily struggle, knowing as we went to bed at night, the morning would bring a repeat of the day
before, only another measure worse.And so the decision was made to break our vow and seek
the help of a skilled nursing facility to entrust with the care of our Dad.That decision led us to
our miracle – the Fort Hudson S-Wing.
To quote a line from my Dad’s obituary,“Gratitude for such loving kindness and compassion
as was bestowed to our Dad from this special group of individuals is simply impossible to put
into words.”This was true before the coronavirus, and even more so today, at a time when the
virus is at the forefront of our world and daily lives.This distinct group of highly compassionate
and devoted individuals, who day after day, – exhausted, emotionally drained and living this
nightmare first hand – place themselves in harm’s way to care for our loved ones in a battle
against this vicious enemy we call COVID-19. Unequivocally, they are heroes.
As inadequate as the words may be, to the dedicated staff of the Fort Hudson S-Wing, I thank
you.You are the heroes of my story, and this is my expression of thanks to you all.
Love & Prayers,

Fort Hudson Health System
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