Angels come in many forms at Pine Run Bucks County Herald, August 30, 2018 By Regina Young Photographs by Allure West Studios
In her job as a nurse, Colleen Wolkey wears many hats. Health-care provider. Patient advocate. Compassionate listener. Caring supporter.
But wedding planner?
Yes, even that too for Wolkey, who recently put her coordination skills to the test when she took on an unexpected new role at work.
It all happened earlier this summer at Pine Run Health Center – part of the Pine Run Retirement Community in Doylestown – when Wolkey and her colleagues received a new patient in their care.
Battling cancer, the patient’s health was declining rapidly, and when Wolkey shared his health status with his “very involved” loved ones, she learned something heartbreaking in return: The patient’s daughter was due to be married in November, and what she wanted more than anything was for her father to be present when she exchanged her vows.
That’s when Wolkey and her fellow associates sprang to action.
Tracy Mullarkey, director of life enrichment, called for a chaplain. Wolkey created a wedding bouquet. Shawnte Brown in dining services assembled a three-layered red velvet cake with cream cheese icing – her first wedding cake ever.
“I loved it,” Brown said of designing the cake. “I love working with our seniors and making people happy – that’s what we’re here for.”
In just two hours Pine Run associates, including Rita Holden and Andrea Kashner, coordinated a wedding.
“Maggie, the chaplain from Doylestown [Health] came over and married them in front of the dad,” Wolkey recounted. “He opened up his eyes; she spoke to him in Korean. Then we actually had a blessing of the sick at the end, which was so important to the family.”
“It was an amazing experience,” Wolkey said of organizing the wedding for the family, a sentiment echoed by all those involved.
“It was just one little thing we could do to make a wish come true,” Mullarkey added.
Be it wedding planners, nurses, cooks, office managers or aides, angels come in all sorts of forms at Pine Run, which recognized associates’ outstanding acts of kindness, courage and dedication at an awards ceremony held over the summer.
Though awards recipients were chosen before the Pine Run wedding occurred, Wolkey was recognized with an Angel Award for a separate incident, one in which she used her life-saving skills to administer first aid to a 2-year-old boy who was burned after falling into a campfire in September 2017. In addition to Wolkey, the following Pine Run Retirement Community associates were recognized with Angel Awards: Mary Beth Baringer, Sandy Cantone, Geri Mena Firlein, Heather Flor, Ian Hauser, Leah Hill, Nicole Impal, Amanda Miller, Rebecca Nocito, Susan Pagan, Amanda Schlotter, Leann Schoettler, Lakesha Seier, Marc Stine and Brian Taing. Angel Award winners from Pine Run Lakeview were Daniel Alonzo, Sherene Johnson, Thomasine Landis, Janice Mullaney, Teresa Sawyer and Anna Zeneli.
Deborah Kovitch, who works as a companion in the community, was honored with the Five Star Award, which is given to one outstanding associate who shines throughout the year. In her nomination form, Kovitch was described as “a valued caregiver by her villagers, residents, co-workers and managers alike. She has an always calm, ‘I can handle anything’ demeanor about her. … She has the attitude that ‘it can be done’ and works with some of our more involved clients because she has a way of making the impossible happen. … Debbie is a year-round example of being there, making their day, and going above and beyond, and truly lives the mission. She has a passion for seniors and a passion about the care she delivers and the relationship she forms.”
Alexandria Flor, Olivia Hurtado, Sean McTague, Matilda Mersini, Lauren Picket, Jeannie Redner, Nathan Tschepik and Suze Desire-Jeantine were also recognized for their academic achievements.
The associates were honored at a picnic this summer at Pine Run Health Center. Held on the fourth floor terrace, the celebration included an awards ceremony, caricature artists and lunch prepared by the dining services team. Awards presenter Terrance Randolph, senior director
of human resources, recognized every honoree by reading his or her nomination letter to the picnic-goers.
Among those who submitted a letter was Susan Grater, who nominated Angel Award recipient Susan Pagan of Pine Run’s special care department.
“She’s just wonderful,” Grater said of Pagan as the two and their co-workers had lunch together under the tent canopy. “She just handles special care so easily. She’s so compassionate. The village just loves her and her co-workers love her too.”
In her role, Pagan acts as a liaison and coordinator for Pine Run’s seniors. She orders prescriptions, schedules doctor appointments, arranges transportation – assuring and assisting villagers in any manner she can.
For Pagan, this means every day is different – and busy. But the reward trumps everything, and the big payoff comes every time she gets to see a resident through a problem he or she is having, she said.
“At the end of the day, I feel that I’ve done something good in the life of somebody else,” Pagan added.
Whether it’s helping a bride create a precious memory or calling in a prescription refill, Pine Run associates care for patients and their loved ones as if they were family, said Pine Run Executive Director Maria Santangelo.
“That’s just a beautiful thing,” Santangelo added. “That’s what makes Pine Run, Pine Run.”