Honoring Don Serdynski
The Who I Am Foundation unknowingly formed in our hearts the last two days of my Dad’s life. It was during this time we were allowed to place photocopied pictures of my Dad and his fabulous life in his Covid isolation room. We wanted him to see them if he opened his eyes for any reason. These photos told his Healthcare Team the story of who he was, what he did, who we were, and what proved to be most important, his LOVE for the University of Florida Gators. Our photos, the first-ever hung in that isolation unit were as one nurse put it “a refreshing look into who someone is when they can’t speak”.
A Tribute to Don From his Daughter, Kelly Ann Serdynski
This is a book about a young boy and his dream of flying. Follow Donald Bryan as he studies the skies, and works hard to buy his first airplane. The adventures of Donald Bryan, and his airplane Swifty, is a great story for young people who share the love of planes and flying. Donald Bryan grows up in the country with a dream. He then works hard at school, at becoming an Eagle Scout, and at work, all to buy his first airplane. The love he has for the sky, the galaxy, and this airplane Swifty, is delightful to read. A truly inspiring, and wholesome book, for everyone.
Kelly Ann Serdynski is an educator, animal educator and advocate, and an artist. She lives on her farm in West Virginia, with her husband Brent. She has 2 cats named Delilah and Jezzy. She has a 2 dogs named Shasta and Cooper. She loves traveling and observing Orcas and whales on the west coast. She loves all things about small town living. She wants to return children's books to a simpler, and more wholesome, design.
In July of 2020 our Dad, Don Serdynski, was taken to a local Emergency Room struggling to breathe with flu-like symptoms. It was heartbreaking to send him alone because of the Covid restrictions. We had no idea we would never hear our Dad speak again. He was immediately admitted to an isolation unit and placed on a breathing machine. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, we were unable to visit him so we would call and have one of his nurses place the phone next to his ear so he could hear us. The breathing machines prevented him from speaking back.
Due to a very unusual circumstance, we were allowed to visit my Father, in his Covid isolation room, the last five days of his life. During these days we learned firsthand about the challenges patients, their families along with the doctors and nurses were facing. We listened as families like ours desperate for any information called the nurses’ station numerous times a day, around the clock. These kind and caring nurses were struggling with 12 hours shift exhaustion as they suited up time and time again in personal protective gear to provide care for their patients. In addition to routine care, they often “suited up” just to take a phone inside a room to be laid next to the ear of their patient.
The Who I Am Foundation unknowingly formed in our hearts the last two days of my Dad’s life. It was during this time we were allowed to place photocopied pictures of my Dad and his fabulous life in his room. We wanted him to see them if he opened his eyes for any reason. These photos told the story of who he was, what he did, who we were and what proved to be most important, his LOVE for the University of Florida Gators. Multiple nurses came into his room to view the photos. They shared how alone they felt at times working with hundreds of patients who could not speak and had no visitors to speak for them so it was difficult to connect. Our photos, the first-ever hung in that isolation unit were as one nurse put it “a refreshing look into who someone is when they can’t speak”.
We asked the nurses and doctors how we could support them as they fought to save our Dad. The immediate response was to lessen the number of calls to the nurses’ station. They explained the challenges in putting on protective gear each time we called to communicate with Dad, in addition to putting it on when they entered the room to care for him. We immediately created a phone contact sheet for his room and requested to be called whenever they were in the room with Dad. This alleviated our many calls to the nurses’ station and the number of times the nurses had to put on their personal protective gear for our calls. Nurses and doctors were able to call us from the room while working with our Dad and place the phone next to his ear so we could talk to him.
Our Dad’s health unexpectedly declined on the evening of August 15th, 2020. That night we began to understand how significant photos hung in a patient room could be. That night, Tim Lanier, a fellow University of Florida Gator was assigned to Dad’s isolation unit. He heard there was a fellow Gator on the floor because of our photos and requested to work with my Dad. That night he spent extra time talking to and caring for our Dad while talking to him about Florida Gator Football. Tim began to see my Dad rapidly declining. He determined my Dad would not recover he alerted us to come to the hospital but unfortunately Dad passed five minutes before we arrived. Thankfully, this nurse told my Dad he would stay with a fellow Gator until the end. He held my dad as he passed while assuring him it was okay. There are no words to describe how grateful we are my Dad did not die alone. He died with a fellow Florida Gator by his side. Pictures and note cards in a patient's room can tell their story. Every family deserves to use them to tell their loved one’s story when they can't.
The Who Am I Foundation was formed in honor of my Dad to help any family with loved ones with a loved one who can not tell their story. Our vision is to provide free Who I Am Patient Support Kits to anyone who needs them. Advent Health, the wonderful hospital who cared for my Dad, was one of the first Healthcare Facilities to adopt our program. We hope to work with all Healthcare Facilities, Assisted Living Residences, In home Caregivers, Care Managers, and Patient Advocates to provide free kits to those who need one.
Our Patient Support Kits contain a customized wall hanging with the name, address, and photo, that cab be hung in's room. It is made of hospital grade plastic and can hold 15 photos or notes. The photo pocket also contains a contact card where you can list the names and phone numbers of family and friends. Don't forget to include reminders, memories, and messages of love. Thank You