My husband was hospitalized at Bergan Mercy and was transferred to Immanuel for rehab several weeks later. He was subsequently admitted to Immanuel 6, transferred to ICU, then to Immnauel 7, and back to ICU again, where he lost his life. As you can imagine, over the course of 103 often intense days in two CHI health facilities, he was served by a multitude of wonderful, caring nurses, aides, and charge nurses. We found Beth Bene to be truly extraordinary.
Beth and my husband bonded from the moment they met, quickly discovering they shared the same quirky (but delightful) sense of humor. In addition to the acute pancreatitis that precipitated my husband’s hospitalization, he suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, as does Beth’s mother. That surely deepened their bond. It was clear that Beth fully appreciated my husband’s physical challenges.
Beth administered medical care thoroughly, lovingly, intuitively, patiently, and even firmly when needed. She was ever attentive to my husband’s physical needs. He was bedridden throughout his hospitalization so his needs were many, she often employed creative solutions to ensure his comfort. The scope and progression of my husband’s illness was such that his condition could change in a moment. At those times, Beth acted quickly and confidently, adjusting or holding medications and therapies where she had latitude to do so and getting whatever was needed as rapidly as possible from the appropriate physician where she did not. Fairly early on, my husband had an unfortunate experience in the procedure area that left him anxious about all subsequent procedures. Beth was keenly aware of that and unfailingly arranged for anti-anxiety medications on procedure days. She also arranged to accompany him when possible, which I think did more to relieve his anxiety than the meds.
Beth brought her characteristic energy and enthusiasm to my husband’s physical therapy sessions, for which she typically prepared a custom playlist of songs. Her presence and encouragement inspired greater effort and endurance than my husband demonstrated when she was off shift. She brought the fun, which served to draw out his best efforts.
Beth was especially attentive to my husband’s emotional needs. She papered his room with riddles to engage, challenge, and amuse him. She shared DVDs from her personal collection that she knew he’d enjoy. She monitored visitors, stepping in appropriately when it was clear the visit was beginning to tax my husband. She did everything she could to make Christmas Eve and Christmas Day joyous for my husband, for me, and for our children.
Beth also proved to be a reliable translator. When a doctor stepped into my husband’s room while Beth was on shift and able to do so, she joined us. She heard what we heard, and then helped us understand and process the information. And when it became clear early one morning that my husband would not survive the day, she overcame her own heartbreak in order to lovingly care for him, me, and our children. Beth became our hospice nurse that day, and it was a long one. Our son and his wife were in Houston and the return flight they hastily arranged would not arrive until 2:45 PM. Beth maintained her composure throughout the day, carefully managing my husband’s blood pressure and keeping him with us but pain-free until our son and daughter-in-law arrived. She gave us one last gift: a good death.
If the sheer force of one determined young woman’s will could save a patient, my husband would be alive today. As I said, my husband was well cared for by more nurses and aides than I can count, many of them exceptional. I remarked more than once that it seemed we were always assigned to the right nurse on the right day, and by that I meant that on the worst days medically, we seemed to have the most remarkable nurses. But we truly won the best-nurse-for-us lottery on the day Beth first bounded into my husband’s room.
My husband loved Beth. I love Beth, too, and always will.