November 24, 2012 7:50:47 PM
One big holiday is over. I suppose we are all thankful for that. Now we must think about shopping and wrapping, and finding the perfect gift for everyone we have ever known. But what if the perfect gifts were right under our nose? No fighting crowds, worrying about sizes, no money spent. And what if your gifts were so precious that they touched the heart of the recipients deeply and magically? Only angels could think of something so wondrous.
Enter a band of angels, more commonly known as East Mississippi Community College's Practical Nursing students. Under the guidance of teacher Lynn Hebert, they have turned Aurora Health and Rehabilitation into a place that really feels like home to the residents.
Beginning in September, the students were assigned a rotation in the nursing home as part of their psycho-social studies. It did not take long for them to fall in love with the patients at Aurora. The home's administrator, R. J. Alipour, approached Lynn and her students with the idea of decorating the rooms. "Most of our residents are Medicare patients," said Alipour. "The walls of their 'homes' are so plain."
"R. J. is truly a lover of old folks," said Lynn. "He has a huge heart, but a strong business sense, loves that our students are there."
The students embraced the idea and went to work. They divided themselves into teams, interviewing the 40-plus residents. Every one told of favorite things and sweet memories. Men love football, or NASCAR. One spoke of a green Mustang he once owned. Now, a photo of a bright green Mustang hangs in his room. Some were farmers who like images of horses and cows parading across their walls.
Ladies adore anything pretty. They received vases of real flowers, art prints and small figurines. Landscapes are popular with both men and women.
All of the items were donated by the students, their families and even Facebook friends. "We just want each one to look up and see something they like when they wake up," said Lynn, " ... trying to bring a little simple artsy pleasure in these precious hearts' lives."
"My employees also 'adopt' patients during the holidays," said Alipour. "I am truly proud of them."
Aurora Nursing Home reaches out to the community, as well. Then, their role is to inform people of Medicare and Social Security rights.
"Thank God for R.J.," Lynn told me. "He is a very unique administrator. He walks the halls all the time, making sure the residents get what they want and need; so many good changes." He was even there Thanksgiving Day, checking on his flock.
The EMCC students will finish the clinical at Aurora this week. Lynn tells me they are already beginning to shed some tears, because they do not want to leave this beautiful new "family." One student, Alice Chain, put it this way: "It is a blessing to serve them and a pleasure to give back. We learn so much from them. But it is not just Aurora that needs help. All nursing homes are filled with lonely people. "
R. J. Alipour and his staff, along with some very "angelic" nursing students, are doing wonderful work for our community. Aurora Health and Rehabilitation is located at 310 Emerald Drive in Columbus. The phone number is 662-327-8021. They, and almost any nursing home, would welcome the attention of a few more angels -- all year around. Just try not to drop too many feathers on the floors.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.