We’re coming up on the 1 year anniversary since COVID-19 first became a known “thing”.  As we all know (and we have no need to get into here), it has completely changed the landscape of how the medical field and senior communities operate.  Gone (temporarily at least) are the days where providers could pretty much freely walk in a community unannounced, speak to someone about scheduling a fun in-person group activity to enrich the lives of patients and residents, shake hands and walk out.  It has now become a much more complicated process in many instances, and most are now done virtually.  Meridian Health Care has worked with our partner communities to continue to provide extras, but the frequency of these in-person events have reduced drastically.  It really is a shame and we can’t wait for this all to be an issue of the past.  Virtual is a great filler, but not a permanent substitute for hands-on.

One of many positives about our organization is our size and structure, which allows us to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and safely.  We will go above and beyond to ensure that our patients and their families are not only happy with our care, but that we are still able to provide one of our core values even during COVID restrictions, which is “affirming life and impacting the family experience each step of the way”.  Our Account Executive, Steve, recently had an additional opportunity to put this into action, and we couldn’t be more thankful to the family that reached out and asked if we could do it.  The answer was, of course, “yes”.

One of our patients, Pat, lives in Chicago.  He is a former U.S. Navy veteran that worked as a printer during his career after the service.  His daughter reached out to see if we could arrange a visit to stop by his apartment with Doyle, Steve’s therapy dove, who has been a star for Meridian in our partner communities. We worked out the time and day and it was set.

Friday the 11th of December rolled around and Doyle hopped in his crate for the 45 mile journey to the city to visit Pat:



Due to the current IDPH guidelines, we had provide him with a custom fit N95 respirator:



Just kidding!  He did enjoy the drive though, and was out of his cage for good portion of it just sitting on Steve’s shoulder:



When they arrived in Chicago, they proceeded into Pat’s home, and then the best part of the visit happened, which was Doyle and Pat (who is a bird lover) meeting for the first time.



Doyle took a small flight upon first meeting (landed on a chair nearby), but both Pat and Doyle began to bond.


During the visit, Pat was very upbeat and was kind enough to share insight from throughout his life, talk about his interests, and most importantly, give some advice to all of us folks out and about in the world today.  When asked what he was most proud of during his life, his response was “the thing I’m most proud of is my 3 children and that they’re smiling and happy people”.  When it comes to being who he is as a person and what his best accomplishment is, Pat stated that “being forward and honest with friends and family, that in itself was a major accomplishment”.  He had a slight charming chuckle at the end of that sentence.  He then stated one thing he was looking forward to doing was finishing Barack Obama’s new book, which he has been listening to on audiotape.  Pat also talked about his time in the Navy.  He served stateside during the Vietnam War era and was a submarine tender, which maintained and repaired the underwater vessels.  After the service, he returned to Chicago where he was born and raised and began his career in the printing business

As the conversation proceeded, Doyle and Pat became even more comfortable with one another, as is apparent in this picture:


Before the conversation wrapped up, Steve asked Pat one final question, which was “if you had one piece of advice you could give someone, what would it be”?  Pat’s answer was “keep yourself in your right mind. Keep yourself happy.  Keep yourself within limits.  And whatever you do, see this bird”.

Pat is an amazing man and we can’t thank him enough for both his service to this country and also for being a fantastic father to his children.  We enjoyed our visit with you during this holiday season, and your advice at the end is something we all should listen to and take to heart.