This summer I have had the privilege of interning at Fern Lodge. Upon my arrival, I was introduced to the patients and staff and given a tour of the facility. I must admit, it was so beautiful. I loved how many patients have a courtyard which has beautiful flowers or bushes. Walking into Fern Lodge, I heard the Bible Lesson playing in the hallway and in each room. It was so nice to know that each patient is working on their spiritual growth. I never got a cold or sad feeling at Fern Lodge; instead I felt happiness and saw laughter. For a couple of days I observed how each nurse and patient interacted. Right away I noticed LOVE, often through their sense of humor, which made patients laugh. There was no sense of nurses being dominating or authoritarian to their patient, but instead supporting each other as equals.
My internship included working with patients as well as in the office, and in maintenance. This was an amazing idea. I got to see how the facility runs as a business and experience what it takes to keep Fern Lodge looking beautiful. It was so beneficial for me to understand what it really takes to create such a wonderful and loving facility.
I worked with the activities head, Robin Barben, and her assistant, Janet Leon. These two women put so much energy and love into each activity that they plan for the patients. On Mondays, I got to bake cookies with the patients. This wasn’t just measuring flour and sugar, but it was a chance to sit down with each patient, and learn about their life experiences and get to know them on a personal and spiritual level. Wednesday was “hair and nails day.” Patients came for haircuts, nails, and a chance to get to know one another more. Each week a few new people came, and it was so enjoyable to see how they interacted on subjects ranging from Christian Science to their hobbies. While helping, I also got to know each patient.
One thing that really struck me is that Fern Lodge offers daily walks for patients. I thought it was a nice idea, but didn’t know how much it meant to each patient until I started doing it. Each time I went outside with the patient, they wanted to look at something and talk to me about it. Seeing wild turkeys and even goats was something the patient and I looked forward to on each walk.
Working at Fern Lodge wasn’t coming every day to a job, but instead to my new family. Coming to work and always feeling happy and grateful was something I have never experienced before. I got to grow spiritually by observing patient and nursing care and also by getting the opportunity to do Bible studies every Friday. This provided a chance to learn more about the weekly lesson, but most of all, to hear what the patients shared and got from it. My experience at Fern Lodge this summer has been an experience I would not trade for anything. It was simply a joy to come to work each day and work with my new coworkers and new friends. I will always cherish every relationship I have made here and know how love is always present. Thank you Fern Lodge for helping me grow in so many ways, especially in gratitude.