On this day, the 100thanniversary of the birth of the late Robert Robbins, MD, I wanted to take a moment to thank the management and staff of Oakdale Heights, Redding.
As you know, Bob nearly made his 100thbirthday, passing away 11 days before that major milestone during his second hospitalization in less than a month. You should know that in the end he chose willfully and with the great clarity and presence of mind, with which he was blessed to the end, to decline further aggressive treatment, rather choosing “comfort care” at Mercy Medical Center. One day after making his decision, he passed away peacefully in his sleep with his two sons at his bedside, while piano music performed by his wife, Abi Robbins that he had himself recorded in their home in the 1960s played softly in the background. May we all be so fortunate!
We also want you to know he loved being at Oakdale for the nearly 20 years he was a resident, as did the family who learned “not to worry” about his care. Of course, one expects a clean and safe environment, with good food and caring staff, flexibility and adaptability of the physical surroundings and staff attention to meet the unique needs of the resident. What one does NOT expect, or even dare to hope for, is the response of senior staff members to his last illnesses. While he was in the hospital with a new small stroke about 2 weeks before his passing, I got a call at the nursing station on a Saturday evening from a staff member from his home, inquiring about bob. I told her of his current status, mentioning that it was not yet clear if he would be coming back to Oakdale or whether another facility would be required. She responded; ”he can absolutely come back, we can alter his level of care….This is his home, of COURSE we want him back no matter what.” Such comfort to the family in a time of uncertainty. During his last illness, upon calling different senior staff member to update Oakdale on his “comfort care” status, I was told, “we have patients on hospice care here, we want him back here.” Bob passed on several hours after that call, but again, Oakdale’s staffs flexibility and compassion was a great comfort to the family, beyond all reasonable expectations.
In medicine we often say that as physicians, “We can diagnose usually, cure sometimes, and comfort always”. How lovely and unexpected that we should find similar parallel ethos in an assisted living facility!
So, a big ‘thank you’ to each and every staff member who helped make Oakdale a great place for my father, and congratulation to management for having such a lovely and caring team and instilling and reinforcing the values that shone through at the end–The responses we got were no accident, and we thank you!