FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – When health care workers at a local rehabilitation center overheard one of their patients tell his family on the phone that he'd do anything just to see them in person, a mission was born.
Their simple, thoughtful efforts to grant him that wish remind us of the good in our community, even as we continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Henry and Anna Beaudion have been married for 70 years.
Henry survived World War II and Vietnam, and even at 91 years old, his grandson, Chris Padgett said, nothing seemed to slow him down.
He said before the pandemic, Henry was still getting up every morning and heading to Dunkin Donuts to meet a large group of people for donuts and coffee.
Padgett might be a familiar face to Channel 4 viewers. He used to be the public information officer for the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
He told News4Jax that when Henry, or Pep, as his family calls him, suffered a stroke recently that left him partially paralyzed, he was admitted to the Isle Health and Rehab Center in Fleming Island.
With no visitors allowed to protect patients against COVID- 19, Padgett had to resort to video calls to stay in touch. He said his grandfather called him in tears, feeling depressed and isolated.
"Not having the ability to speak with family and friends face-to-face has really taken a toll on him emotionally,” Padgett said.
The staff at Isle Health noticed too and hatched a secret rendezvous mission.
Henry’s caregivers figured out a way to coordinate getting him in the perfect spot, away from other patients at the perfect time to see his grandson and great-grandchildren.
“We’re doing all that we can to make sure that he understands that no one has abandoned him. We are here and he has a team that’s not going to give up to help make him better," Padgett said.
He said he can’t say enough about how the staff at the rehab center went above and beyond to help his family.
“A lot of times it’s easy for us to get mixed up with what we’ve got going on and we forget others. They stepped up to the plate. They didn’t forget,” Padgett said. "They made something possible that allowed my grandfather to find some joy and happiness and encouragement that he otherwise would not have got.”