So many of the stories we hear and read about in the news are of neglect and abuse of the elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This story is different. This is the story of Morris Montes, a nursing home aide, whose caring heart saved the life of a man who wasn't even his patient.
It seems Montes cared for Ralph Swann's wife at the nursing home where she was a patient. Ralph and his wife had been married for 76 years and were still very much in love. Ralph visited his wife daily and stayed all day, every day. Several days after Christmas last year, Ralph came in for his daily visit and looked ill. Montes suggested he see a doctor and even offered Ralph a ride. Ralph politely declined. Two days later, Ralph didn't show at all for his visit, so Montes called his home to check on him. Ralph didn't answer. Montes knew the person who usually checked on Ralph at home was out of town, so Montes asked permission from his supervisor to check on Ralph at his home. His supervisor agreed.
On New Year's Eve, Montes went to Ralph's home, knocked and called out, but no one answered. The doors and windows were closed. Montes used his cell phone to call Ralph, but again Ralph didn't answer. Montes decided to call the police. When police arrived, they broke into the home and found Ralph lying on his bed, struggling to breathe. An ambulance was called, and Ralph was taken to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart, and pneumonia. How does this story end? Six days later, Ralph was released from the hospital and reunited with his wife as a patient at her nursing home. Read more about Montes and Ralph.
I'll be the very first to identify poor care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, whether it's because of severe pressure ulcers (bed sores), a serious fall, medication errors, or malnutrition. We see so much neglect and abuse here in Virginia and elsewhere that we've come to expect the worst. We haven't come to expect acts of selflessness, caring, and compassion like those Montes showed.
Just like it's important to call out neglect and abuse whenever and wherever it happens, it's equally important to recognize those who provide great care. Montes deserves to be recognized. He went above and beyond the call of duty to save a life. Today, Ralph and his wife are together again, and Ralph is exactly where he needs to be. "He's my patient," Montes said. "I take care of him every day." Montes' relentless concern for someone that wasn't even his patient should serve as an example of the good that can come from acts of kindness and compassion. It should be a lesson to nursing homes and assisted living facilities and their workers. It should be a lesson to all of us as well. Thank you Mr. Montes. Thank you.
Posted on Sun, January 20, 2008
by Robert Carter