The Irish have a great saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.”
I believe that, and now I use that phrase to measure the efficacy and competence of medical rehab facilities, too. There are no bad rehab facilities then, really, just wrong staff.
Still, sometimes it takes a mystery person, someone unknown, a new patient, who suddenly parachutes into the middle of a work environment to remind the staff just how good their environment really is when compared to other facilities.
Life Care Center of Acton [, Massachusetts,] was recently the drop zone for me and my own parachute, an apparatus woven from a fabric of distress, need and necessity. I was that new patient with only the slightest of prior knowledge of the geographic location, the facility footprint, the staff who walked these halls, or any of the administrators.
Those are the people in my mind’s eye, “the suits,” who for some reason I always held most accountable, feet to the fire, and responsible for the most important charge – namely, the hiring of the best and then modeling a path to achieving prominence and satisfaction in their work.
Before spending a week at Life Care Center of Acton recovering from a hip replacement surgery made even more difficult because of my early stage-IV Parkinson’s disease, my only understanding of a rehab facility was September 2014, when my other hip was replaced.
Even someone with a room-temperature IQ can easily read between the lines and appreciate my incredible delight to find myself surrounded by faces wearing genuine Colgate smiles, peer courtesy and laughter!
Life Care Center of Acton is not Nirvana or some imaginary answer to everyone’s search for quality rehabilitation assistance. But from the switchover of shifts, to the middle of the night petitions for some companionship or pain relief from clients like me, the personnel of the center unmistakably, consistently and with heartfelt reliability actually care about (not just for) the individuals they are helping to get better.
As unbelievable as it seems, the personnel perform their duties as if it were a privilege to be helping the wounded of body, heart and soul that, for a variety of reasons, brought them here for help and healing.
Still, I can guarantee that, in some economics class at Harvard or MIT, there is a professor singing the praises of Keynesians economics and how satisfied workers increase corporate profits. But sickness and dependence on others for help, at least for me, is deeply personal and painfully lonely, but never associated with profitability.
So I asked myself: “How is it that grouping of staff, the 25 to 35 people I encountered, simply seem to love what they do and the place they do it?”
The truth is that even a squirrel, blind at birth, finds a nut every once in a while. And that that nightmare of an administrator in charge of a center whose purpose it is to help? Sadly, we also have seen that he/she will hire correctly every so often too.
But like the carpenter’s adage of measuring twice and cutting once, the staff here, I believe, bubbled to the top of the interview pool not only by demonstrating competency and skill in their particular field, but emitting an unspoken κλήση, a Greek word that indicates more than a calling to help others, but a vocation, of sorts, that shines through the face-to-face interview like a light in the darkness.
That κλήση is the singular, common denominator here: To be happily selfless in helping those most vulnerable. It is the signature of Life Care Center of Acton.
As for me, I leave for home in a day or two. I entered this center broken, hurting and angry. Now healed in body, heart and soul, I look to those healers who helped dissipate my resentment and ire with life and rehabilitation places.
A doctor (and his dog) who walks the halls dispensing medical advice and humorous social commentary; loving RNs like the empathetic Celina and LeAnn; constructively firm and helpful PTs like the Barbaras; admin-types; and professional social workers like Dan have combined to remind me of that truism: “The only people I should ever try and get even with are those that helped me along the way!”
The Author: Sean James McGinty was born and raised in San Bernardino, California. He attended UCLA and Gonzaga University (Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy). A proud, former member of Jesuit Order, he left just prior to his ordination. Attending Loyola-Marymount University School of Film, as well as Weston School of Theology at Boston College (MTS,) he successfully ran five marathons and completed a 5-mile swim. Today and in days to come, Sean refuses to accept any limitations of his Parkinson’s disease. The author of two screenplays, two dramatic plays and 10 short stories, he considers his greatest achievement to be that of a father to his beautiful daughter, Molly Grace.