To make a difference is one of life’s greatest rewards...
At AtlantiCare, we are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve...one person at a time. When we succeed, we call it a "Starfish Story". Here are a few Starfish stories recently shared by AtlantiCare staff.
A few months ago we received a referral for our therapeutic foster care program for a 14 year old young man that had been in our program twice before. This young man has a very sad history of multiple failed adoptions, severe abuse and no personal connections or trust with anyone. The only exception to this is one of our foster parents, Mrs. B. Unfortunately we could not place him with Mrs. B for reasons beyond our control. So, on the day of placement, the young man did the only thing he knew how to do – run. Over a period of three hours his care manager and I followed him up to Rt. 322, in the rain, trying to convince him to come back and give it a try. He continued to refuse into the night and by 8 pm the only option was for the young man to go into the shelter. He said to me at one point, “don't you understand, Mrs. B is the closest thing to family that I have?” Over the next week the Family Care Network staff, DYFS and CMO worked diligently to make it work and we were able to place him into Mrs. B’s home within a week. It is now almost a year later and the young man could not be doing better. He regularly gets honor roll in school and just recently was able to return to regular school from an alternative school. The smile that I see on his face every time I see him now, and hearing him say that he is proud of himself, makes those three hours spent in the rain and the cold all worth it.
One of our case managers told me that she had a patient with four small children and no gifts for them for Christmas. I asked our administrative assistant if she could send out an email to our staff as well as the rest of our friends at the HealthPlex, asking for help. She did, and gifts starting arriving immediately. The next day (Christmas eve) a few of our staff members delivered a carload of gifts and snacks to the children who referred to them as “Santa’s elves.” Everyone at the HealthPlex who donated gifts, money, or time made a difference to this family that they will never forget.
A woman came up to me at a local mall and asked to give me a hug, then proceeded to tell me that when I had treated her son 9 years ago, when he was first diagnosed with schizophrenia, she was very frightened as her other son already had the disease. She stated that the time I spent with the family educating them had given them hope and that her son has stayed out of the hospital since then, is working, and even has a girlfriend. It was such a nice reminder of how important our time is to others. Our jobs are often thankless, but I will never forget how good it felt to be embraced by a mother who had tears of joy in her eyes just because she got the chance to thank me. It was very humbling. I love the starfish theme because it reminds us that each of us can touch lives in very meaningful ways even when we are not aware of our impact on others.
My mom experienced chest pain, and although we live five blocks from another hospital, I chose to bring her to Atlanticare. The pains in her chest were not a big deal to her, but as a nurse I knew my mom would receive the best care at AtlantiCare and that was a big deal to me and my family. She agreed to let the diagnostic studies determine if her chest pain was a big deal. The nurses on 2 West were a breath of fresh air in a time when I couldn't breath in fear of what lay ahead for my mother. In the end a very long story made short, my mom endured 15 hours of surgery to have a quadruple bypass, aortic valve replacement and a right sided carotid endardectomy in the Heart Institute under the care of Doctors Axelrod, Salartash and Saia. Juanita, a PCA in the CVU, would sing to my mother among many other tasks and she always made sure her music was playing. All of the nurses had such compassion and precision that I found myself inspired to be a better nurse. The staff also recognized me and continually reminded me my role was her daughter, reassured me and wiped the tears when I felt overwhelmed. They held my hands through a very difficult time and there are no words to thank them enough.
The AtlantiCare Kids Even Start Family Literacy Program provides services to low-income and low-literacy families in Atlantic City with children from birth to 8 years old. Our program provides families with information regarding literacy, child development, health and wellness, and positive parenting practices. Our staff frequently assists families with translation of forms and interpreting, sometimes even accompanying parents to appointments at social service agencies. In November, a parent new to our program disclosed she is visually impaired. The parents have no medical insurance and cannot afford to be treated by an optometrist. Our staff contacted the local office of the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, who referred the parent to a vision screening that was to take place the very next day in Pleasantville. The parent attended the screening and recently received a voucher for a free pair of glasses! Through trusting relationships established with our Even Start families, we are so pleased something as simple as a phone call can make a world of difference! This was truly a rewarding experience for our staff and we look forward to being a part of future starfish stories!
During the last holiday season our unit 2 Meadow adopted a mother and five children. The spirit and compassion shown by our unit to this family was amazing! Four of the five children asked for bikes, and they all got one...plus helmets to go with their bikes. What a feeling to know that during this time of uncertainty everyone was so generous beyond belief to this family. I have been with this unit since 1988 and would not think of going anywhere else. We are a team as well as a family, and friends to each other. I am so proud to say that I am a member of the AtlantiCare team.