Every day, hospitals around the country receive thank you notes for helping a loved one through a disease or injury and nursing them back to health. And each year countless moms and dads send thank you cards to hospitals for helping deliver their little bundles of joy, whose smiling photos often adorn the notes.
But the thank you sent by Maria in the summer of 2013 was of a very different nature. It came to El Camino Hospital shortly after the passing of her beloved father.
In August 2013, Maria learned that her 88-year-old father, Isidro, was dying from a rare type of blood disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). MDS refers to a group of diseases that result in the buildup of defective blood cells in the bone marrow, which leads to a shortage in mature, healthy blood cells (such as red and white blood cells). Over time, this causes many problems in the body, such as anemia (red blood cell deficiency), infections and excessive bleeding. Approximately 15,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with MDS each year, and there is no known cure for the disease.
Weakened by MDS, Isidro was admitted to El Camino Hospital Los Gatos on August 25, 2013. Given the extent of his disease, there was very little the medical team could do for him. As a hospice team was called in, friends and family began to gather at the hospital to say goodbye.
Although those last few days were incredibly difficult for Maria, she says she is eternally grateful to the hospital staff for the warmth and support they gave to her father and her family.
"Everyone at El Camino Hospital was so caring and thoughtful. They did everything they could to make us comfortable, even setting aside a private room that our family could use to talk with each other."
Maria says the nurses also found extra chairs for all her relatives, and brought juice for everyone. "El Camino is a hospital that truly cares for its patients."
As word traveled that her father had only a short time left, relatives from all around the Bay Area arrived at the hospital. Soon, more than 50 had gathered in Los Gatos.
"I have seven siblings, so there are many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren," says Maria.
With so many visitors all at once, the hospital easily could have been overwhelmed. But Maria says the doctors, nurses, administrators and other staff members were incredibly understanding and kind.
"The nurses kept telling us how loved my father must have been to have so many visitors. They were really wonderful."
Isidro died on August 27, 2013, but, thanks to the efforts of Maria and the hospital staff, he did not die alone. He was surrounded by his family — a family that will always be grateful that his last days at El Camino Hospital were filled with love and kindness.
Maria, thank you so much for sharing your father’s story with us.