Fort Stockton Pioneer: Dignity during the worst of the storm

May 5, 2021

Karri Geiling - LBSW, LNFA, CTT

As a ray of light is appearing through what has seemed like a very long, dark winter, I’ve learned through challenges and hardships that we can emerge with dignity and new knowledge about what we can endure and how we can triumph.

Many of us may not feel as though the last very trying year and ensuing months are at all worth celebrating. In fact, through our exhaustion, our grief, our life adjustments, and our determination, we may look at each day a bit differently than we did before. We may notice something new in a face we see every day, or feel a deeper appreciation for simple pleasures.

I work with a team of people who have shown me the indomitable spirit of caring human beings who put others before themselves. I have seen heroism, sacrifice, and an outpouring of compassion intensified. They have been weary, anxious with concern, and genuinely empathetic. They are the frontline direct care providers in a nursing home.

Getting knocked down again in the face of adversity stopped none of them from getting back up and doing what needed to be done.

Still in the throes of a pandemic, we were hit in February, like many communities across our state, with subfreezing temperatures and a loss of electricity and heat – a cruel irony that escaped no one. Not only did we have to protect our residents and ourselves from an insidious and unrelenting virus, we now had to do so under these challenging conditions. After our generator blew a fuse in the early hours of the morning and the heat went out, the building crew and team members pooled resources and personal connections in the community, and contacted local emergency management to set in course a plan to keep residents warm, fed, and calm in their own safety.

The Fort Stockton community of small businesses, large corporations, and community groups showed up at our frigid doorstep with an outpouring of generosity. No staff left to go home, their priorities focused on the vulnerable elders they care for.

As the unyielding winter storm pounded Texas and family members of residents restlessly awaited word about their loved ones in our care, our staff kept them connected through frequent phone calls – a lifeline for them and us. The heat eventually came back on, and our lights illuminated the hallways once more. Water was no longer a scarce resource, and life with the singular threat of COVID returned.

“What more?” one might ask. “What’s next?”

Whatever it is, our long term care heroes have the strength and commitment to take it on.

May 9-12 is National Skilled Nursing Care Week, a time to recognize the people who make it their mission to help those most in need because they have the heart to do it. Please join me in extending well deserved gratitude to those whose dignity has shone through the worst of life’s storms.


Click here to read the article on the Fort Stockton Pioneer.