Aspiring standup comedian bonds with COVID Infusion Hub care team

Bev Landau is perky by nature. The former schoolteacher – and aspiring standup comedian – chooses to smile, laugh and engage instead of retreating into herself or seeking sympathy. This was recently challenged when she was hit with Covid. It wasn’t the virus that got her down as much as adding another health issue to a long string of them she’s had to manage over the past decade, which included the loss of her beloved husband.

“I was really down when I called the number to set up the treatment,” Bev, 78, recalled, talking about the COVID Infusion Hub. “Cheryl answered the phone. And things began to change. I decided to have some fun. I told her that I was in love with my Henry Ford doctor, and he left. Now I have Covid. Just one thing after another.”

Cheryl Kilbourne is one of the nurses who answers the phone line to schedule high-risk patients for their three-day Remdesivir infusion. Bev’s comment about being in love with her former doctor struck Cheryl’s funny bone and the two began swapping humorous comments in their conversation. That is, until Cheryl asked Bev her height and weight.

“There was a huge sigh on the other end of the line,” Cheryl recalled. “I anticipated that she had a high BMI. I remembered a similar situation with another patient when I asked her weight, and she told me she couldn’t say that number out loud. I ended up looking it up in her chart and asking her to confirm it. I felt like this could be a similar situation; I could hear that same sort of reluctance in Bev’s voice.”

But Bev had quite a different reason.

“As I was looking up her information, Bev told me she was tired of ‘discussing it’,” Cheryl said. “She explained that the last time she was at the doctor she said that if she was less than 4’10” she didn’t want to know. The doctor remained silent.”

Humor helps healing

Bev explained to Cheryl that she used to be 5’1” and was disheartened that she had lost three inches, and now weighed just 92 pounds. Despite her best efforts, she cannot gain weight and she continues to lose height. Bev then switched gears and took the opportunity to test how closely Cheryl was listening, throwing in a joke.

Bev continued by saying that she was also quite upset that she has applied twice to be a Henry Ford “cheerleader” but had been shut down both times, likely because she has only one pom-pom. (When Bev was hospitalized for a bowel obstruction, a nurse manager, looking to cheer her up, presented her with a pom-pom.) Bev also theorized that her snub could be because Henry Ford President and CEO Bob Riney kept denying her application for the squad.

To Bev’s great delight, Cheryl was listening very carefully, fully opening the door for her to add more playfulness to the conversation. Cheryl asked Bev more questions about her snub from the fictitious Henry Ford cheer squad, and two shared many giggles.

What has resulted from that initial conversation is a relationship that has endeared Bev to this care team and vice versa. Cheryl has little doubt Bev will comply with the medical advice offered and will continue to be a Henry Ford patient – telling friends and family members about her warm relationship with those at Henry Ford. Like many Henry Ford employees, Cheryl has also been a Henry Ford patient.

“Humor gets me through my days,” Cheryl said. “I’ve been hospitalized three times in the last year, and you look for connection. It made a huge difference when the nursing staff really engaged with me. Everyone is pressed for time, but it doesn’t take that much to ask a few questions, to make a connection. The healthcare setting is very intimate, so it’s up to us to initiate that connection.

“With this particular patient, she is just so complimentary and thankful for the care she has received, and she’s got this darling personality. She is a blessing. My nurse colleague Michelle Lawlor and I have had so much fun with her. We even sent her another pom-pom so that she has two now. As part of a care team, it’s important to find the opening to learn more about the patient. In the end, it adds to your life, too.”

Care team bonds with patient

Michelle echoes Cheryl’s sentiments about Bev and cherishes her interactions with this special patient.

“When I first met Bev at the clinic, it was an instant connection, as if I had known her for many years,” Michelle added. “As Cheryl said, she is a blessing. I am hoping now that she has two pom-poms she will try again for the ‘Henry Ford cheer squad.’ How fun is that?”

With her Covid experience in the rear view, Bev is looking to continue on her standup comedy path, one that began a couple of years after the passing of her husband. She took a class at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, resulting in performing her eight-minute set on that prestigious stage. Considering the strength she has needed to emerge from life’s challenges over these past years, there is little doubt why Bev gravitates toward standup, a performing art that requires vulnerability and courage.

“I’m always writing more standup,” Bev added. “There is always something that you can laugh at. I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine.

“Besides, Cheryl and Michelle said that to have me as a patient is a blessing. How can I feel sorry for myself? I’m a blessing!”



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