My father was admitted to Aurora BayCare Hospital with a multitude of medical problems. Historically a jovial and sweet man, due to the severity of his condition, my dad was not only in considerable pain, he was confused, uncooperative, and combative with the medical staff. The atrophy of his brain and previous strokes left him angry, and at times our family was of not much comfort to him. On Sunday, Nurse Harley Zelzer was assigned to care for my dad. The days before, my dad refused to eat. Harley spent the first day getting to know him and quickly earned his trust. Harley was able to get him to relax a little bit by listening to his concerns and stories. Unfortunately, after Harley's shift my dad became very confused and combative with staff, even removing his own catheter, causing him even more pain and discomfort. I returned to the hospital in the middle of the night in an attempt to assist the staff by soothing my dad and offering him familiar comfort. However, it wasn't until Harley returned at 7 am for his shift, that my dad's mood turned around. Harley was able to convince my dad to drink, eat, take his medicine, and cooperate with tests and treatments. My father trusted Harley, who was honest with him. Harley treated him with dignity and respect, which was really important to my dad, especially when everything felt so out of his control. My dad agreed to stay at the hospital because Harley was there and, until he passed away, he asked when Harley would be "coming back to visit?"
When our family had concerns, Harley made sure the doctor heard them. If we had questions, he'd explain the answer in terminology we understood. We felt he was really pulling for our dad and our family and when we learned by dad wasn't going to get better and wasn't going to come home, we truly felt Harley shared our family's pain. On the night of his last shift with my dad, he kept a strong, brave smile on his face as he spoke to each member of our family. He took a few extra minutes to joke around with and listen to a few more of my dad's stories, which made my dad happy.
Harley made our dad happy during some of his final days. He absolutely picked the right profession and embodies that "something special" every nurse should have. My family will never forget the care he gave our father.