Susan Chinman: ‘Great respect’ for Amherst nursing home staff

  • Employees of the Center For Extended Care at Amherst talks to police officers who were called in response to a small group of protesters in front of the center on Monday, May 11. gazette file photo

Thursday, May 21, 2020

I was very saddened to read about protestors outside the Center for Extended Care at Amherst (“Protesters target nursing home over virus response,” May 15 Bulletin) complaining about its staffing, lack of transparency and demanding that for-profit health care has got to go. I was saddened because the protestors painted such a negative, horrible picture of the center and that’s not at all the kind of place the center is.

My mother died at the center last month almost a year and a half to the day from when she arrived. She had dementia from a stroke that also left her paralyzed on one side, without the ability to speak, walk or take care of herself. The staff at the center were unfailingly caring to my mother every day, month after month, year into second year they took care of her with respect, skill and kindness.

This was not just her doctors and nurses. One of the few things my mother enjoyed was for me to walk her around the center in her wheelchair. We roamed the halls of the center: the Dharma unit where she lived, the first floor hallways, the atrium, the basement where food was prepared and laundry done.

Staff at all levels — from aides mopping the floors to physical plant staff, dieticians, PT and OT staff, personal aides, nurses, doctors, assistants and administrators — it didn’t matter what position they held. They always greeted us with a smile as we passed by, and if they knew my mother, they greeted her by name and oftentimes asked me how she was doing.

The center is a place where the staff is committed to doing their very best, each in their own way, to make the residents who live there either better and able to go home or to live the last days, months or years of their lives in as dignified way as possible. Especially now, in the COVID-19 era, I’d like the staff at the center to know that some of us have deep respect and gratitude for the work that they do and for putting their own lives at risk to care for our loved ones.

Susan Chinman