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Compassionate care that heals and reunites

At 2 p.m. on Labor Day 2020, Flennard Boyd was lost.  Suffering from symptoms tied to dementia and post-traumatic stress syndrome, Mr. Boyd wandered out of the open gate in his backyard as his family was preparing for a Labor Day holiday celebration – the kind of end-of-summer celebration that was the hallmark of the Boyd family.

Janet Boyd, Mr. Boyd’s wife of 50 years, was lost without the love of her life by her side. For more than 3 weeks, Mrs. Boyd led the family and community effort to pray and search for her husband. In spite of being “terrified” and fearing the worst, Mrs. Boyd was able to rally members of the community, including church pastors, her congressman’s office, and judges and attorneys with whom she had worked as well as the Chicago Police Department, to search every day for Mr. Boyd and track down leads and sightings of him.

A father of 10, grandfather of 17, great-grandfather of 11, and husband of 50 years, Mr. Boyd was fortunate to be noticed by an unknown guardian angel who called the ambulance that took him to St. Bernard Hospital. Once he arrived at St. Bernard, he received compassionate care not only from the medical team, but his family also received compassionate care and emotional support from the social workers who worked to re-connect them.

Sophia Carrington, a licensed clinical social worker at St. Bernard, set about the task of re-uniting Mr. Boyd with his family. What made this a particularly challenging re-unification was the fact that Mr. Boyd had mistakenly identified himself using the name of his deceased father. Nevertheless, Carrington worked around the information she had to uncover the truth.

“In spite of the fact that Mr. Boyd wasn’t able to share any accurate details with me, when I looked at him I noticed he was well-groomed, his skin was clear, he presented well, and I knew this man has a family and I have to find his family,” Carrington said. “Something just didn’t add up.”

Carrington contacted several local agencies to track down Mr. Boyd’s family – including the Chicago Police Department, who issued a Found Person Report (FPR). Within a few days, the police contacted Sophia to let her know that her patient did have a loving family that was actively searching for him. A couple of days later, Mr. Boyd was joyously re-united with his wife and family.

As Mrs. Boyd, herself a former nurse, shared, “My husband has been well-taken care of.  To know that my husband had been lying in a hospital bed for 21 days and to know that he had no bed sores or bruises – that lets me know that the medical staff did their job and provided my husband with the highest level of care.” Marie Willis, a certified nursing assistant at St. Bernard, recounted the care that was given to Mr. Boyd in the weeks he was with her. “We did everything we could to get him back in shape,” Willis said. “Talking to him, giving him love until his loved ones could come around, encouraging him to eat to keep up his strength.  It was an honor to take care of him until his family could be located.”

An active participant in his own healing, Mr. Boyd worked with the medical team in order to heal.  “He was an excellent patient, very respectful and responsive, he did everything that we asked him to do,” recalled Willis. “He allowed us to do whatever it took to get him back to where he needed to be.”  Compassionate care at St. Bernard Hospital is about more than just caring for the ailment.  Compassionate care at St. Bernard Hospital is also about the emotional support provided to our patients and to their families.

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