There's a gentleman who frequents the Emergency Department at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. He's homeless and his clothes smell of smoke from the fire he keeps burning where he lives near the railroad tracks. He has a seizure disorder and comes frequently for his medication. "Either we will give him his medications or he will be in here with seizures," explains Dr. Carla O'Day, Director of Emergency Services at St. Vincent Charity. "He gets hassled at the shelter so we take care of him here."
Taking care of the most vulnerable--especially at the holidays--is a work of mercy for the Caregivers of St. Vincent Charity's Emergency Department and Psychiatric Emergency Department. "We feed people, give them dry clothes and sometimes let them stay in the waiting room to keep warm," says Dr. O'Day. "They may not have a home to go back to. Or they may not have a way back to the shelter."
The holidays can be hard for some individuals. "They may have had problems for months, but what's different is that they may have reached a point of being broken or lonely," explains Dr. Albana Dreshaj, director of the Psychiatric Emergency Department, one of only two in the state of Ohio and six nationally.
"They may have family issues or family members who don't approve of how they live," she said. "Often they are looking just to tell their story ... to be heard. We listen and sometimes they just need to sleep. When they are ready to go, Melissa (Mowery, the social worker) will help them get a ride back home or to a shelter so that they don't have to walk."
"It's a great honor to care for these individuals because they are in dire need," said Dr. Dreshaj. "This is why we're here and every one of our Caregivers embodies that service, our mission. We see a wonderful outpouring from our Caregivers. There are more good days than bad days. In the end, we do really good work here."
One of the ED nurses noticed on the chart that it was a patient's birthday. So she ordered a special meal and a cupcake and had others join her in the patient's room to sing Happy Birthday. "This woman was so touched and told us that she hadn't celebrated her birthday in a long time," said Dr. O'Day.
St. Vincent Charity Caregivers regularly stock the Jesus Room, which has clothes, shoes and coats for individuals who may arrive in need. Caregivers supply donations of gently used or new clothing and shoes and also keep it organized. "We will get them something to wear that is warm and dry," said Dr. O'Day.
"I saw one of our nurses, Ryan, give someone a brand new pair tennis shoes he had in his car," said Dr. O'Day. Caregivers share food, fill prescriptions and lend a compassionate ear to those in need.
"Our Caregivers could work anywhere, but they choose to be here at St. Vincent Charity," said Dr. O'Day. "There's such a nice spirit here. We're honored to be able to help people have a better holiday."
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