Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Bringing healing, justice, wholeness to people and communities.

October 18, 2012


Dear Friend of LSSI:


“I am still in the driver’s seat.” What a powerful statement that is. It was spoken by Ruth, an 89-year-old mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and current resident at P.A. Peterson Center for Health in Rockford, one of two long-term care and rehabilitation facilities run by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. (The other is St. Matthew Center for Health in Park Ridge.)

P.A. Peterson resident Ruth, with her guitar and one of her caregivers, Venika Morgan.

Ruth’s is a familiar story. Like so many seniors, she decided to move to a nursing home because she needed more care. She made the choice to live at P.A., joining a new community on her terms – and remaining in the driver’s seat of her life.


You will find Ruth at “Newsbreak,” an activity at P.A. where residents read the current news from the daily newspaper and have a roundtable discussion. Ruth likes staying current with what’s going on in the world around her. She attends church services weekly because her faith brings meaning to her life.


She also has given in to her desire to learn how to play the guitar. She takes lessons from P.A.’s chaplain, Dr. Chuck Olson, who says she’s the only resident to ever take him up on his lesson offer. You’ll find the guitar next to her on her bed. And there is something I did not mention earlier: Ruth is totally blind. 


Chuck says, “At every lesson, I learn more about Ruth – her intelligence, her memories, her curiosity, her perceptiveness – she sees much and deeply. She plays guitar with a sureness of touch that will continue to develop – and loves to sing as she plays. I learn from this guitar student.”


As for living at P.A., Ruth says: “When I have a problem here, I punch the button, and someone comes. I want to adopt the CNA staff; they are helpful with a smile. I love to talk to them, and they love to talk to me.”


Statements like this can only come from positive relationships, which are the cornerstone in providing good care. “They don’t make me feel physically inferior; they make me feel so comfortable,” Ruth says of the people at P.A. “I have a bond – an unseen bond,” she adds about one of our staff members. “I trust her in any place with anything.”


Life is a journey that we all travel. And we all desire to remain in the driver’s seat. At P.A. Peterson, Ruth may need assistance at times, but she continues to be “in the driver’s seat.” We accomplish this by providing good care – which we define as person-centered – at both P.A. and St. Matt’s.


As Georgianna Ferguson, our assistant administrator at P.A. says, “When we have the privilege of caring for a person here at our facility, we understand that we are caring for a unique individual.” Again, it all comes back to person-centered care.


In Faith,


The Rev. Denver Bitner, D.Min.



P.S. Plan now to help us celebrate our new Amicus Certus (“True Friend”) honoree, Kent P. Dauten, on November 10 in Chicago. Our 31st Annual Amicus Certus Celebration will speak to “The Heart of LSSI,” which includes our donors and supporters, as well as the people we serve. For information, please see our online registration page. We hope you will join us!


OUR MISSION: Responding to the Gospel, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois brings healing, justice and wholeness to people and communities.

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