This story isn’t mine to tell, but I have to share the day I met Pearl; Lita Pearl, aka. “Aunt Pearl.” Lucy, our Director of Nursing, and so many others were asking, “Have you met Pearl?”; and “You have to meet Pearl.” A few days after Pearl’s admittance to our hospital, I began to hear that Pearl wanted to tell her story for the love of Bath Community Hospital.
I walked into her room and was greeted by a sweet smile and a very friendly “hello.” Wearing a beautiful gown, Pearl motioned for me to sit down almost before I’d even introduced myself. Someone must’ve told her I was coming, or everyone is a new friend. My Dad, who was just down the hall, was here recovering from a stroke and recently, like Pearl, transported from a Roanoke Hospital. And just like Pearl’s family, I had delivered some fresh laundry to Dad along with some denture cream and a favorite pair of socks from home. It’s nice having your family close to drop in if needed! Pearl began by saying if she could, she’d tell the world what a great hospital this is and how good BCH has been to her over the years.
Although the number of times Pearl had been admitted was unclear, I quickly counted six. Pearl shared that her three babies were born here in the “old part,” back when you stayed a week after delivery; she learned to walk twice (this stay being the second) and has been here twice as a “swing-bed,” proud of this new terminology she’d learned from her cohorts on the floor.
Just after (or maybe before) her 66th birthday, Pearl was severely hurt in a car accident that could’ve cut her life short. She said they brought her here, to Bath Community, after spending several weeks in a Roanoke hospital. She recalled “the girls sitting around in her room deciding where she would go next, and she interjected, saying, “I want to go home to Bath. Those nurses and PT/OT girls will take good care of me; they always do; They’ll get me back on my feet”. Pearl got her wishes and was transported back to BCH and close to her family and friends.
We stopped chatting a moment to watch the birds outside her window (“her window”) just after asking that some more birdseed be added to the birdhouse and a few of the staff popping in the room to say hello and check on her progress. She joked around with the nurses, calling them her gifted nicknames before sending them off to continue their work. She said that “these people treat you like you’re their family. I know I’m in good hands, and they’ll get me walking again so that I can go home (just 5 miles from the hospital)”.
Just after Pearl’s 80th birthday and a celebration with her church family, a fall left her stranded, afraid, and alone for several hours. Luckily she was kept warm by her two mountain feists that laid at her feet. (Now Pearl says she’ll be a spokesman for Life Alert or something that allows you to call someone that you need help.) Pearl is back and surrounded by caring and compassionate, skilled nurses and professional providers. She said there’s something very special about this hospital and the people in it. I have to agree.
We chatted about her growing up in neighboring Highland County, raising a family of her own in Bath, and cracking walnuts to make her delicious apple bread. (I’ve now been added to her distribution list – yum!) After our visit, I left to visit my Dad just down the hall, who mimics these same kudos to the BCH team and now plans to meet Pearl himself someday.