Jacksonville, Florida - Cyrus Fitzpatrick was going to be 5 soon. And his parents, Paul and Paula, wanted to celebrate. But party planning wouldn't be the same as in year's past. That's because Paul was in the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus and wouldn't be able to make it home for a party.
Paula asked the care team if it would be possible to bring Cyrus's party to Paul, perhaps by bringing a cake into his room. Paul's team thought the occasion called for something bigger. So with the family's approval, the team went into party-planning mode. The result: a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed celebration, complete with cupcakes, decorations, gifts and even a DJ. Among the guests were many of Paul's caregivers, some of whom came to the hospital on their day off to be there.
"They did so much for us," Paula says in a voice thick with emotion. "Cyrus was excited. And Paul loved that he got to participate."
Paul's care team welcomed the opportunity to bring a little sunshine into the life of a man whose personality "captivates anyone that gets to know him," says Fredy Insuasty, one of Paul's nurses. "Paul is in love with his family," Fredy says, something he could relate to. "I have three children and know birthday parties are special days that need celebration." He also knew about the "months of tough battles" his patient had faced and wanted to "make this party as special as it could be." So Fredy was among those who came in on his day off, bringing his "DJ equipment, lights and videos" with him. "Paul and his family were so thankful and joyful," Fredy says, adding that he hopes they will remember the day as one "full of emotion, laughter, joy, hope and compassion."
Cora Mendoza, the nurse manager on the unit, says her staff's efforts were a way to let the Fitzpatricks "know that we care about them." Message received, Paula tells us. The party was just another example, she says, of how Mayo Clinic "really treats you like family." There have been other expressions of kindness, too, like the doctor who shaved Paul's beard for him after he mentioned wanting to trim it. Paula says gestures like these make a big difference to Paul, who has two rare autoimmune disorders and has been in and out of hospitals since 2009.
"Paul is by far more satisfied here than at any other hospital," she says. So much so that the family moved from Massachusetts to Florida just to be near Mayo Clinic. "From Day 1, everyone here has been consistently caring and attentive. We've heard things like 'I love you' from doctors and nurses," Paula tells us, adding that those words have helped make a difficult situation a bit easier to bear. "It's nice to know Paul is somewhere he's surrounded by love," she says, "and not just from friends and family."
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