Telecare Hero: Sandy at La Paz

Russell has been residing at La Paz for more than two years. He has often told his social worker that he wanted to discharge to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) in Santa Monica where his mother resides.

Before coming to La Paz, Russell was homeless, but he spent his days at the nursing home with his mother, caring for her and being present in her daily life. Clinical Secretary/Discharge Planner Sandy Loera obtained the name of the SNF from Russell and called this nursing home to verify that his mother was still residing there. Sandy and Social Worker Becky Jones coordinated with the nursing home and planned an outing for Russell to visit his 93-year-old mother.

Russell was very anxious and excited on the day of his visit. The staff at La Paz helped Russell get ready to see his mother. For many years it was just the two of them—his father passed away when he was 5 and he did not have any siblings. Russell hadn’t seen his mother in years and did not know if she continued to live.

The ride to the SNF in Santa Monica was long and traffic-filled. Russell remained quiet unless spoken to during the drive.

Upon arrival, Russell was overcome with emotions. He stated that he did not even know how to put into words what he was feeling. He began feeling his mother’s face, her arms, and her hand. He said over and over, “Mother, it’s your boy Russell. It’s me, Mother!”

Russell is unable to see due to cataracts in his eyes, and does not have benefits to correct his vision. His mother began to hum and make noises in her throat in response to Russell. She even smiled. The nursing staff informed us that she had deteriorated over the past few months, and requires tube feedings since she is not able to eat. His mother also could not speak so her communication was limited to humming and groaning noises.

Russell said that since he cannot see, he could not tell if his mother recognized him. We assured him that by her constant humming noises and smile she was happy to see and reconnect with him. Russell sat by her bed, touching her and speaking to her in both Russian and English. He was so very grateful for the opportunity to see his mother again, especially since she had been deteriorating so much over the past few years. The social worker took a picture of him with his mother for his pleasure and memory.

When it was time to leave, Russell was reluctant to break physical contact with his mother. He hugged her and kissed her good-bye, murmuring that he loved her and wished she could speak to him. It was a very emotion-packed good-bye for Russell. After leaving, Russell told his social worker that he would like to eat at McDonald’s. He knew the area very well and told us how to get to the nearest one. He ordered a Big Mac Meal deal and ate every last bite. His social worker noticed that Russell was sniffling and crying while he was eating. He replied that he was overwhelmed and very grateful for the opportunity to visit with his mother. He expressed that it had been a very big and very successful day!

Sandy went above and beyond to make (what may be) Russell’s last visit with his mother happen. Russell is relatively quiet and stays to himself, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when you have so many other residents who require more time and attention, but Sandy ensured his needs and wishes remained a priority. Her tenacity paid off big time for both Russell and his mother, though one could not see and the other could not speak the love captured in the picture attached, says it all.

Nominated by Cherry Lnn Hubbard, La Paz