Part of being a parent is letting your children go. You want them to grow up, become independent adults, get a job, “leave the nest.” But when the unthinkable happens, when your independent, self-supporting, adult child is critically ill or hurt, you instantly become that protective parent of bygone years, and your only wish is to be with them and to offer comfort, support, care, and love.
So when Pauline and Sammie Gary got a call from their son Myron saying he’d passed out twice and was going to the emergency room at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, they did what any parent would do, they got in their car and drove the five hours from their home in Aiken, South Carolina.
On their way to the hospital, the Garys were able to speak with Myron’s doctor and nurse, and they learned that their 26-year-old son’s heart had stopped and that he would require a pacemaker. They needed to be by their son’s side during this difficult and scary time, and that’s all they could focus on as they made the trip to Oak Ridge.
With their son in the Acute Care Unit, the Garys weren’t going far from his side. Then, they met Johnny Bullock, customer relations coordinator at Methodist, and he asked them where they would stay. “We hadn’t even thought of that,” said Pauline.
He told them about the Hospitality Houses at Methodist and introduced them to Kim Maes, Hospitality House coordinator, who welcomed the Gary family into the Houses.
Methodist’s Hospitality Houses consist of two historic houses from the Manhattan Project. They have been renovated to provide a total of eight guest suites plus a shared kitchen, living and dining room in each house, as well as serene outdoor space. The Houses provide temporary lodging for those who travel for outpatient care at Methodist, such as cancer treatment, and for families like Pauline and Sammie Gary who have traveled to be near loved ones in the Acute Care Units.
Pauline was impressed with the amenities and operation of the Hospitality Houses, noting, “They were clean, warm, well maintained, well supplied…it was a blessing from God.”
When she considers her son’s condition at the time, there is nowhere else she could have been. Had they not had the Hospitality Houses as a place to find a brief respite, she and her husband would have simply kept vigil in the Acute Care Waiting Room between visiting hours.
“We didn’t know how long we’d be there,” Pauline said. “Being close, it meant so much. We could walk back and forth to the hospital. At the Houses, you can get yourself together, shower, sleep in a bed…it was like being home.”
Pauline had heard about places like the Hospitality Houses before, places for families whose loved ones are in the hospital, but she never understood their true impact until she had experienced it for herself.
“Support programs like this—it could be you who has to use them. It had never occurred to us before. The Hospitality Houses were provided at no cost at a time of need. We need to give back to places like this, to support them.”
Pauline and Sammie’s son, Myron, has recovered and is doing well. But it’s not an experience that is easily forgotten. Pauline still feels appreciation for everyone who was involved in their story—in caring for her son and caring for them, too. “The way the hospital staff handled us—I felt so good that Myron was in their care.”
From the hospital staff to local friends the Crowe family and Cabbil family, Pauline and Sammie Gary express their thanks and appreciation for support. “It just confirms there are still good people willing to help,” she adds.
Are you willing to be one of those people who supports the special services of the Hospitality Houses at Methodist? It’s easy and fun to make a difference thanks to the all-new event, “In It to Win It,” hosted by the Methodist Medical Center Foundation. All proceeds will support the Hospitality Houses and ensures their doors can always be open for patients and families who rely on them to be close to their treatment or loved ones.
“In It to Win It” will take place on Saturday, March 28, from 6:30-10 p.m. at Tech 2020, located at 1020 Commerce Park Drive in Oak Ridge.
The event features 60-second party games, which take ordinary objects and turn them into challenges between you and your fellow guests. Bring your best sense of balance, coordination, aim, and sense of humor for these creative challenges. This casual evening will also feature food, silent, and live auctions and prizes for the game winners. Tickets are $75 per person or $125 per couple and proceeds benefit the Hospitality House.
For tickets or more information call (865) 835-5261 or visit www.mmcoakridge.com/InItToWinIt.
The Hospitality Houses made a difference to Pauline, Sammie and Myron Gary. Your support of the Houses and “In It to Win It” can make a difference, too.