Riverside Celebrates Patient's 95th Birthday!

Plan B: A Celebration to Remember

My name is Marla J. Barnard and I work in the behavioral health unit at Riverside as a Behavioral Health School Liaison. While I am a happy employee, I realized this past week, that I am also a very proud employee – never have I been so proud to work at Riverside as I was this past week!
Lois Johnson, my dear aunt, a longtime resident of Bourbonnais Grove, turned 95 years old on February 26th. To commemorate this incredibly unique occasion, her daughter had planned a big party for Sunday, February 25th. With Lois’s permission, I share this story: The day (original plan) was to start with a special church service at the Aroma Park United Methodist Church, where Lois has been – and continues to be, an active member since she was a young child. The party was to be in the church fellowship hall immediately following the church service.

Unfortunately, Lois fell on February 14th and cracked her pelvis and broke her hip. It seemed certain that she was going to miss her party. Lois’s mind is as sharp as any clear-thinking middle-aged adult, so the disappointment at the timing of her fall was palpable – she knew, and accepted she was going to miss her party. It was my sister who said, “If she can’t come to her party, then we bring the party to her!” – Plan B was underway.

At the request of Lois’s daughter, I made one phone call to Riverside’s Jenny Jordan to ask who I should talk to about the possibility of renting one of the cafeteria conference rooms – and why. She immediately said we could have all three – no charge. Tracy (cafeteria manager) and Jenny then thought it a better idea to just have the party in the cafeteria instead of the conference rooms – indeed a much better plan.
Then we wondered, might we also be able to hold the church service in the Riverside Chapel. I think that, more than the party; Lois was especially looking forward to attending church. When my cousin and I met to look at the chapel, we realized it was much too small to accommodate friends and family – it seemed that was that. When leaving, I happened to cross paths with Phil Kambic – I briefly shared what had previously transpired and how appreciative and impressed I was with how accommodating Jenny Jordan and Tracy were to allow us to move the party to Riverside. He really appreciated hearing this. He then suggested also having our church service in the back of the cafeteria. That had not even occurred to us. He said he would talk with patient services, security, and a couple of other people which then really set Plan B into motion.

We already knew that the doctor could not clear Lois to be discharged in time to attend her party at her church, but he sure cleared her to attend church and her party at Riverside in the cafeteria!
We got the word out to family and friends that the party was still on for February 25th, but the location had changed. Helen in marketing took care of having a big birthday sign made so guests, many of whom came from out of town, knew where to go upon arrival. Riverside technician, Jeff was her escort – gently pushing her in her wheelchair, every step of the way. The church service was incredibly special – “Captain Greg” and crew even moved a piano in for the special music that Lois had selected for this special Sunday church service honoring her on her 95th birthday. He was also on hand early to make sure we had everything we needed. Lois’s daughter and grandkids took care of all the decorations and other necessary items. Monical’s pizza delivered the food – the venue could not have been more perfect. It was a party like no other and it could not have gone any better!

There was such a connection with these Riverside colleagues, all of whom I met for the first time while planning and implementing this party. My heart is full to know that despite not even knowing Lois, so many cared with such empathy and kindness to make this happen. Lois described her party as “over the top and wonderful!” Adding, she felt so incredibly loved. Her party was beyond what we could had hoped. Plan B was most certainly a blessing in disguise – a celebration to remember! Thank you, Riverside!