Journal of Gerontological Nursing

A Health Center But Also A Home Human Reflections

Dolores J Hoffman

No abstract available for this article.

Passavant Health Center is a multicare nursing home consisting of over 200 beds in house and a large number of independent residential cottages and apartments. Expansion plans are to include a higher degree of occupancy in independent living and 148 more skilled beds.

The Center, geared toward the modern approaches to geriatric nursing and gerontic living with education programs, remotivation, and reality orientation therapy, rehabilitation and restorative service in nursing care, and related profession^ is owned by Western Pennsylvania-West Virginia Synod of the Lutheran Church in America. /

Accent is on rehabilitation to the patient's highest level of function and when possible, with supportive services provided for independent living.

In the gracious setting of beautiful grounds and gardens this nursing home strives to see each patient as an individual and maintain a family atmosphere where the dignity of each of the elderly is preserved and respected.

This article was written as human reflections seen by the Director of Nurses on her rounds on a days tour through the facility. She tries to show that a nursing center with high humanistic goals can be a Home where love abides.

Look around and wonder. What do you see? A baby t toddling precariously with all eyes upon him. His footsteps clatter importantly through the halls.

A little imp about four years old, peering mischievously around the corner of a door, staring at an old lady in a chair who brightens as she sees him.

A quiet chapel, mostly white, with sun gleaming through the stained glass windows lies waiting for the elderly organist to practice, the various groups or lonesome soul to pause and pray and to swell with joy at the worship service, as the congregation is led by the saged choir and Pastor to sing "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation."

One hears the hustle of an outraged guest for the beautiful turkey served for dinner was not what she wanted. She longed for turkey tails fixed the old-fashioned way.

Ladies in wheelchairs leisurely rest in a lounge, chit- 1 chattering about the unusual array of geraniums as they wait for the "Sing Along" to start.

A wheelchair is occupied by a buxom woman in a flowered dress with her thinning hair piled high on her head. Her eyes glitter as she passes, but her head drops quickly to watch carefully in what direction she is going.

A stooped man paces aimlessly as though in concentration and repeats his course, walking purposely as though there is a destination, smiling brightly with a quick "hello" to whomever he meets.

A white-jacketed physician bends over an anxious face. A gentle hand on an aged shoulder, listening intentively, expelling reassurance and giving strength through medical wisdom and rendering peace to worried wrinkled brows.

There is a red-vested volunteer, bright eyed and cheerful, pushing an elderly woman past my door in a wheelchair. The woman's hair is carefully curled and she holds her head with dignity for all to see, fearful of the slightest breeze.

A fragile woman unsteadily weaves her way down the hall with a cane, in a pink and white striped seersucker dress, popular in years gone by, but fresh and frosty except for the worn belt.

A deaf woman, skin softened with wrinkles, bent, clings to the smooth plump hand of a young nurse whose face is pained as the woman laments her 90 years and weariness. Concern and compassion generate back and fourth as the young hand and arm encircle the bent figure. Love flows between them. Tears glisten as jewels on the face of the old woman and in the eyes of the young nurse.

The perspiration stands out on the forehead and moistened hair curls softly about her face as an aide steps out of a patient's room. Her hand slips to her pocket and unconsciously she mops the sweat and goes to the next room without missing a step.

A tall thin figure whose sharp eyes aided with glasses, leans over a flower bed and snatches the intruder weed before it has a chance to grow.

In a rocking chair in the quiet corner of her room, a dresden doll-like creature sits with red eyes, tears* flowing freely, hands clutched tightly, watching the bed where her roommate lies motionless bordering the dark valley in quiet rest. The nurse and minister walk in and see her. A prayer is offered. Gentle arms lead her from the darkened room to a brighter corner in the lounge where more cheerful activity is to begin.

From the darkened auditorium a thrust of glorious melody billows down the halls from toil worn fingers and filters through offices where bent heads over paper laden desks raise and smile. An occasional chuckle or constant tapping of typewriters^ a telephone ring, or conversation are heard.

The clatter of dishes, whisked safely from tables to carts and carts to dishwashers to be made ready for the next meal by busy hands is heard. Short skirts whirl about tanned legs in full motion stepping lively to finish tasks.

A gracious lady shows a young nurse the picture of herself in her youth with rounded cheeks and chestnut hair. There is a resemblance but as she quotes her latest poem filled with expressions of faith and forbearance, you see the depth and character in the wrinkled face and dignified manner. There is the true beauty.

Mountains of crumpled linens are piled high in carts in a steady flow to barrels rolled constantly to the laundry. The linen returns computer stacked in fresh, snowy, neat piles is gobbled up almost immediately by nimble fingers.

On a bed lies a man whose dark eyes absorb everything about him. His body is shriveled but his mind is deep into the next pitch of the baseball on television.

Purses are clutched tightly or hidden in secret niches to preserve the few valuables, an allowance, and worldly possessions left.

In a gerichair a lady sits gently rocking. Her hands are never still as her fingers strain through her frosted hair or over the table. Her bright blue eyes dart about as though she is watching and waiting.

On bulletin boards a gay variety of cards are posted to celebrate every holiday, and every good wish with pictures of loved ones. Happy robes, stoles, afghans of every stitch and color are made by patient fingers in careless or artistic order depending on the individual.

A cluster of gentlemen sit on a park bench facing the parking lot engaged in animated conversation. One leans on a cane sighing as if in deep meditation. He eyes a bright red sports car and a flicker of youthful longing crosses his face.

An elderly dignified man having a youthful jaunt to his step, proudly displays his latest ceramic masterpiece for a beloved daughter. His eyes twinkle with accomplishment and expectancy of delight in his surprise.

Carts of food with trays laden with calculated diets are routinely left in the units, to be doled out, coaxed into tired bodies or delicately eaten by dainty ladies or devoured quickly by the hungry.

White uniforms flashing by with starched caps observing, touching, rendering or serving, brush through all spans of life.

Candy stripers bounce by idealistically and casually, laughingly bent over a smiling, grateful face or concentrating on a pained expression.

There are congregations of ladies in a medley of colors, the majority carefully groomed and men in suits with colored or white shirts and gay ties in the gracious dining room. The click of silver on plates and the hum of steady conversation come to a halt with the tinkle of a bell. Voices raise with joyous reverent tones-"Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow."

So it goes on day after day-life and living, joy and sorrow, activity and peace-a flurry of lives bound together with love and concern. A health center but also, our home.


Photographs courtesy of Butler County News Record, ZelienoplePittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Ellwood City Ledger.


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