Sickness can rob us from living life to the fullest. All we want is to ‘return to normal.’ For Lucille Bean, that meant baking cookies as part of a 35-year tradition… using special ingredients like a cup of thanksgiving, a teaspoon of motivation, and a dash of inspiration.

Lucy’s story intersected with ours when she was originally admitted to Blossom Hill Health Care Residence with pulmonary and cardiac conditions causing symptoms (shortness of breath, weakness, lack of mobility, dizziness, confusion) that were degrading her quality of life. When asked her goal upon admission to the Blossom Hill Health Care in late October 2017, she said she had to be home by Thanksgiving to carry on a meaningful 35-year tradition that involved baking several thousand cookies.

Lucy was familiar with the medical field, as she had worked at UH Geauga Hospital earlier in her career. Despite her medical background, Lucy admitted, “I had never been to a nursing home for rehab before, so I did not know what to expect.”

To her surprise, Lucy described her Blossom Hill experience as “fun.” The therapy team worked hard to find creative ways to make the treatments challenging, yet enjoyable. They had her on her feet, playing the card game War or baking cookies in the therapy kitchen for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, building strength and endurance in her legs. “I was very impressed and would recommended it highly. The care was absolutely wonderful, and the food was good, too.”

Within two weeks, Lucy had progressed enough in her strength, endurance and other health measurements in order to return home, but she still required care. She transitioned to Hills at Home, with a medical staff comprised of the same familiar therapists and the nurse who provided care at the rehab level under the guidance of Dr. Pawlicki, UH PCP. Within 24 hours of Lucy’s release from Blossom Hill, the RN opening nurse recognized she still presented with pulmonary issues and experienced two minor falls at home (with no resulting injury). Dr. Pawlicki was notified after hours and initiated a transfer for Lucy to return to Blossom Hill, avoiding a hospital readmission.

Upon her return, Blossom Hill clinicians including Dr. Dimarco, her pulmonologist, reevaluated Lucy’s plan of care. Dr. Pawlicki then modified her medications, eradicating problems that had resulted in an impaired quality of life for Lucy. Dr. DiMarco was able to include certain respiratory treatments
and durable medical solutions which have now enabled her to resume to an independent lifestyle.

Not only did she return home in time to bake cookies for the holidays, but Lucy was thrilled to be able to attend a bridal shower recently, free from the need for either a cane or supplemental oxygen.

Lisa Moodt, her daughter, remarked, “Our experience was very positive. Like our mom, we had no idea what to expect. The clinicians in her care genuinely became interested in her life. Therapy staff made her feel at home when she was away from home, which was important.” Just as Lucy benefitted from our input, we benefitted from hers. In getting to know Lucy and her motivation, we discovered the importance of baking cookies. Lucy’s desire to bake cookies started 35 years ago in 1983. With the loss of her husband and her struggle that year to overcome cancer, she had been blessed by overwhelming support provided by friends and family during her trials and suffering. She had a lot of support people to thank, but she did not have money to spare. All she had was the ingredients to bake cookies. “I had a lot of people to thank for getting through a real hard time. I worked at UH Geauga Hospital and had a great boss who was understanding and worked with my schedule.”

As she pondered how to thank her boss and so many others, the thought came to her: “Maybe I could help others with their holiday baking.” What started as a one-time idea for a small group became an ever expanding annual tradition for 35 years. Lucy’s generosity and appreciation grew to include shut-ins; co-workers; and police, fire and paramedic departments. Now, Lucy bakes up to 65 different types of cookies every holiday season; one year making over 6,500 cookies in her kitchen. “I think people like them, I have not had anyone give them back,” she laughs.

Cookies aren’t just cookies when they’re Lucy’s homemade cookies. They are an overwhelming expression of thanksgiving, a motivation for healing, and an inspiration for the rest of us to follow as we continue to serve our community in measurable and meaningful ways.