“Dear MIMA Healthcare & Avista Cherry Hill NJ,
This letter acknowledges the high standard of care provided to my parents Dolores and Albert Levitt at Avista Cherry Hill, NJ from 2014-2018. You have a truly stellar team at this facility.
I held my parents’ Power of Attorney while living in Australia which posed unique logistical challenges. The Avista staff always accommodated the distance and time difference in every way possible including the schedule of care conferences and other calls, liaising in challenges with the Business Office, sharing happy anecdotes and organizing practical matters like new clothes, haircuts, etc.
My father was admitted to Avista in 2014 for rehab due to muscle weakness. He also had Alzheimer’s Dementia and ultimately stayed on as a Nursing Home patient. Heather Swajkowski showed us around and we were immediately impressed with the cleanliness of the facility. The movie theater had leather recliner seats and the courtyard was full of flowers and birds. The rehab facility had lots of equipment, there were activities and a room that families could use for a private meal or get together. Heather helped us with the admission process and was a big help later when Mom was also admitted. She also helped with many other logistical matters over the years.
Pat Bennar, the Nurse Manager of Saltzman wing met with the family several times during Dads’ admission and before I returned to Australia. I am a Registered Nurse myself and couldn’t have been more impressed with this Nurse Manager who had dedicated herself to aged care and understood all the adjustments and emotions that go with it. Because I was overseas, Pat gave me her personal cell number. She sent me frequent updates and little stories that made me smile. I was aware of everything from medication doses to lab results. Pat organized regular telephone care conferences with the team and in person when I made annual visits. When my mother was later admitted to Avista in 2015, we were told that there wasn’t availability for Mom and Dad to share a room. Pat stood up and said, “he is NOT going back to Australia without knowing that his parents are together!” A short time later, my parents had a wonderful, corner room together. My mother wheeled herself over to my Dad’s wheelchair and they hugged. I cried. Pat was there. I will never forget it. Pat later ensured that my mother was given a private room after my father passed away and she was placed on hospice. These are just two examples of the many kindnesses that Pat showed me over the years. She has had a strong influence in shaping the Saltzman Unit’s professional culture and the caring, skilled and dedicated team that work so very hard there.
When Dad was first in Avista, he would call Mom every morning from the Nurses’ Station and ask her to come get him at the Hotel. He often thought he was in Atlantic City. She would reassure him that he was in Cherry Hill and that she was coming in later. After mom was admitted and became forgetful, she took this on and they both used to tell me that they were in a hotel. I believe this was a testament to the care they received and that if they weren’t happy, they might have thought they were in a prison.
So many of the Avista Cherry Hill NJ team have contributed to my overwhelmingly positive feelings. Sheryl Terry, like Pat Bennar, gave me her personal cell phone number when she took over from Pat. Sheryl also attended my mothers’ funeral and spent time telling us about Mom’s final weeks which meant a lot to the family. Maria and the rest of the activities team are so incredibly dedicated and bring such joy to the residents with hand massages, singing, entertainment and other activities. Alicia at reception has helped me with issues around managing the Personal Needs Accounts from overseas. Even the Chaplain sent me regular text messages in Australia when he visited.
However, a very special mention must also be made of Keya Anderson, my parents’ Nurse Aide/Assistant. Keya spent the most face to face time with my parents and truly cared for them. This was demonstrated in so very many ways. If Mom and Dad ever needed anything (clothes, bedding, etc.), Keya was the person who would notice it and organize with Pat to go out and get the things herself. When I visited, it was always evident how happy Mom and Dad were to see Keya. She often spoke of maintaining their dignity and treated my parents with love and respect. I’m told that towards the end of my mother’s life, Keya took her lunch break in Moms’ room and Keya’s was the last voice that my mother recognized and responded to. Keya attended both of my parents’ funerals as did other Avista staff.
While I couldn’t visit my parents face to face as often as others, the people who did visit shared my opinion on the excellent quality of care and always mentioned how happy and well looked after mom and dad were. In summary, I will always be grateful to Avista Cherry Hill NJ to giving my parents a wonderful quality of life in their last years.
Thank you so much for this letter! We are truly happy you took the time to write this letter regarding the exceptional level of care your parents received during their time here at Avista. It really means a lot to all of our staff and employees who dedicate their lives to enhancing the quality of life for others. This piece you wrote is a testimony to our mission which is to “offer World-Class healthcare and Rehabilitation at each of our MIMA care facilities across the country. We spare no expense to provide our residents with the most robust rehabilitation program, tailor made to suit the needs of the individual.” We will continue working hard to care for each resident like they are our own families. -Avista Healthcare