"This is Why I Do What I Do"
When Melanie Lynch, Hospice Program Assistant at the Network Support Center, hung up the phone from her conversation with client Richard Peterson, she told fellow team members how much she had enjoyed talking with the 99-year-old gentleman. But she never could have imagined the impact she'd made.
Richard had called WesleyLife to express his appreciation for a postcard he'd received that highlighted WesleyLife Hospice services. He told Melanie although he was fortunate enough to be in good health, he was also aware that at his age, planning for the future was probably a good idea.
"He told me, 'It's funny that I got this postcard today, because I've been thinking that I'll be 100 soon and chances are hospice isn't too far down the road,'" Melanie said. "I arranged to send one of our nurses out to meet with him. But then we started talking about other things, too, and he was just so nice and so interesting."
Richard, a WesleyLife Meals on Wheels client, told Melanie he attributed his good health in part to the healthy, balanced meals he receives; he also told her that as a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reserve, physical fitness has always been important to him, and he works out daily. He told her about his family and some of his war experiences.
And then, as much as Melanie hated to end the conversation, she needed to attend to the needs of other clients. So she said goodbye to Richard, but she hoped he'd call again one day.
Richard actually exceeded Melanie's expectations. The next day, Kristi Bottoms, WesleyLife Administrative Assistant and Concierge, informed Melanie she had a visitor at the front desk. Melanie walked into the lobby -- and there was her new friend, Richard.
"She was so kind to me and took so much time that I had to stop by to meet her and thank her in person," Richard said. He added although the distance from his home in Johnston to the Network Support Center was only about five miles, the trip had taken him 40 minutes because he'd gotten lost -- but meeting Melanie was worth the effort.
"There aren't many people who would sit and listen to the needs of a person she doesn't even know," Richard said of his conversation with Melanie. And when WesleyLife CEO Rob Kretzinger stopped by the lobby to meet him, Richard told him, "You have a very good employee here."
After talking with Richard and posing for photos, Melanie went back to her desk with a smile on her face.
"I didn't do anything extraordinary, and the fact that he took all that time to drive here at age 100 just to meet me made my whole day," she said. "This is a perfect example of why I do what I do. My grandpas both died too soon, and I think he made me feel a little like a grandpa might have made me feel."
Amy Cartee, Hospice Clinical Supervisor for WesleyLife and Melanie's manager, said Melanie's interaction with Richard illustrates the commitment to customer service and hospitality that WesleyLife encourages among its team members.
"The thing is -- that's not out of the ordinary for Melanie. She does a wonderful job," Amy said. "I'm thrilled that she was able to meet Richard and see the effect that her kindness had on him."
For his part, Richard's interaction with Melanie only enhanced his positive feelings about WesleyLife. The nurse who visited him told him that because his health is good, he doesn't qualify for hospice services -- but we all hope Melanie's new friend will visit us again.
"I have friends who receive WesleyLife (services), too, and I know what whatever we need, you'll be there," he said. "We've always known you to be a very good company."