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The Wonderful Gift Gilchrist Gave My Friend

March 3, 2022, Caregiving, Elder Medical Care

The Wonderful Gift Gilchrist Gave My Friend

At Gilchrist, we often receive letters expressing gratitude for the care we provided to a loved one. Every one of these letters is meaningful, but we recently received an exceptionally heartfelt one. The writer described the extraordinary impact of our care on her dear friend—a 90-year-old woman with a disability, whom we cared for through our Elder Medical Care and Hospice programs. Here is what she wrote.

A beautiful picture of Mary who was a patient in Gilchrist’s Elder Medical Care program

How do you begin to thank a group of people who don’t even know what a wonderful gift they have given to a fellow human?  I am writing today to tell you the story of Mary Hughes, one of your patients and my friend.

Mary passed on November 12, 2021, at Gilchrist Center Towson. For the first time in a very long time, Mary felt safe, cared for and not in pain. Mary was 90 years old and had spent her life dealing with genetic ataxia and the obstacles this debilitating disease presented. She dealt with it the best way she knew how (and did it well).    

When Mary reached the point of not being able to do many day-to-day things, we met an angel named Elizabeth Duncklee, CRNP, through the Gilchrist Elder Medical Care program. To say Mary’s life changed that day would be such an understatement—what Elizabeth gave Mary went so far beyond the medical care she needed.

Elizabeth allowed Mary to speak her mind and express what she did and did not want. Due to Mary’s speech impediment, it took patience to allow her to speak without finishing her sentences for her. Elizabeth provided the care and, more importantly, the compassion that Mary had not experienced in a long time. Because Elizabeth took the time to not just listen but to really hear Mary and address her needs, Elizabeth became one of Mary’s most trusted allies. 

I wish I had the words to express just what that meant to a person who was in a wheelchair, not able to go outside any longer and having people take such advantage of her because of her disability. Sadly, life was not done piling on Mary. She was going blind, losing what little muscle ability she had left, and then was diagnosed with cancer on top of everything! Elizabeth guided Mary through this with her always calm, direct, caring and, believe it or not, humor. Elizabeth was able to use her own wit to counsel Mary down the next path.  

So, it was time for home hospice care and more Gilchrist angels appeared! We were blessed to have hospice nurse Vicki Davis and social worker Darcie Warren added to her team. Let me say from a personal view, what a wonderful and totally delightful experience that was. I was Mary’s primary caregiver, and Vicki did nothing but encourage and educate me the entire way. Darcie became my sounding board and my rock when I felt I was failing. I can say in all confidence that I could not and would not have been able to help Mary without them. 

When Mary started falling out of her wheelchair and it became too dangerous for her to stay at home, the angels took over once again and got Mary put into Gilchrist Center Towson—where all the other angels hang out. 

Let’s just start with your front door. After a week or so of coming in and out, the security guard and I started talking, and one day I asked him why the front door was locked on the weekends. He told me that it is always locked but he kept an eye out and unlocked it when he saw me coming. Not only was Mary not just another patient, but I had a security guard unlocking the door for me!

Are you beginning to understand why I feel my words are so inadequate? Your personnel are of a whole other plane. With all the turmoil going on in our world right now and the distrust and disdain for each other being viewed on just about every news program, here are your employees treating people—not just patients—with dignity, kindness and compassion. It leaves me humble.

From the nurses to the hospice aides and everyone in between, I felt nothing but care whenever I walked into the center. Thank you does not even begin to express my emotions right now, but it is all I have to offer. Gilchrist allowed a 90-year-old kind, smart, funny woman to have dignity in her final days, and I will always be indebted to you and your staff.

With Much Gratitude,

Rose A. Babylon

Thank you, Rose, for sending us this wonderful letter. Our Gilchrist team is honored to have cared for you and Mary.

To learn more about our Elder Medical Care and Hospice Care programs, visit gilchristcares.org.

To support our work, visit gilchristcares.org/give.

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