Patients First

January 16, 2019


Like every department within Memorial Healthcare System, the 5 South team at Memorial Regional Hospital treats each patient with the highest level of care and respect. This consideration allows nurses and social workers to see beyond the walls of mental illness. That’s when the magic happens and a mutual exchange of goodwill takes place.

Such was the case with a man who was admitted to Memorial for a behavioral disorder. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he came in combative and unmanageable.

“This is a person who was probably institutionalized most of his life,” says Sehoon Paik, Nurse Manager at Memorial Regional Hospital. “He was 6’4” and posed quite a challenge for everyone. At one point we had to put him in four-point restraints.”

The staff tended him with persistent kindness, and eventually the patient calmed. He took refuge in 5 South and stayed three months until his mother was able to find housing for the two of them. During that time, he enjoyed visits from Partridge-Dorian, the resident therapy dog. He began chatting with the nurses, learning their names, and established a rapport that endeared him to everyone.

“He told us about his childhood history and what he’d gone through in life. At the end, he became so pleasant,” says Betty Witty, RN, a charge nurse for 5 South.

Eventually, the patient’s mother found an apartment.

“We wanted to help him do well after he was discharged. We were happy the mother had found a place for him, but we were worried about him doing well. We gave him advice. He was so happy that he was going to be outside the hospital,” says Betty.

In a gesture that exemplified the Memorial spirit but was by no means typical, staff members Betty, Bernie Roddy, Kim Childs, Marie Nerrette, Charlene Kenney, Marie Touze-Lubin, Rhonda Brayboy and Ailyn De La Puente chipped in $75-plus to buy the patient food, personal hygiene supplies and even a plant to usher in his fresh start.

From day one, the 5 South team showed unwavering compassion for a very sick individual, because that is how Memorial relates to patients. In this safe, healing environment, he revealed his true self, an indefinable quality that charmed one and all. After such a rocky welcome, he became an unexpected bright spot on the floor, and this is what inspired Betty and her coworkers to add a touch more TLC to his treatment protocol.

“We developed a relationship with him like he was our child,” says Sehoon. “I think the staff took to him because he’d been through so much and because in the end he became one of our own.”