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Dinner makes Easter special at care center

April 12, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Easter Sunday was especially meaningful for families with loved ones at one area health-care facility.

Cooks at Avalon Manor Health Care Center on Marsh Pike near Hagerstown started preparing meals Saturday for about 63 guests who were visiting residents on Sunday.

"They started cooking at 6 a.m. Sunday morning," said Dietary Clinical Manager Kathy S. Varady.

Norman Geatz's wife, two of his children, and his granddaughter traveled from Cumberland, Md., to join him for Easter dinner at the center. Avalon staff mailed out letters inviting residents' family members to a sit-down dinner with all the trimmings.

"We cooked 10 hams, mixed vegetables and three coconut sheet cakes," Varady said.

"That was really nice, I just faxed that (invitation) to all my kids," said Geatz's wife of 56 years, Mary Geatz.

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"This is something we haven't had for a while, because dad's been in nursing care for a year. So they've made today very special," said Geatz's daughter Wendy Hannon.

Mary Geatz said her husband, who has Alzheimer's disease, relocated to Avalon Manor six months ago. Geatz sat calmly as his family huddled around him watching Sunday's Masters golf tournament on television in his room following dinner.

"I'm not sure he always knows we're here, but we hope he does," said Hannon, smiling at her father nearby. Sunday's Easter dinner reminded the family of happier times when Geatz was living at home in Cumberland.

Because of Easter's religious significance, visits from family strengthen a patient's faith and, in some cases, prevent them from giving up, said staff LPN Brandi Jones.

"A lot of times we're the only faces they see for every holiday, except for two," she said, referring to Christmas and Easter.

"It makes you feel good to know we could help family members," said Varady, who was eager to get home to enjoy Easter dinner with her family.

Avalon Manor residents range in age from 30 to 98, Dietary Manager Kim Freshman said. She said 155 residents are receiving acute care, short-term rehabilitation and long-term care. Residents come from as far away as Brooklyn, N.Y.

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