Nurse helps woman with dementia reunite with her son

During this Nurses Week, a Virginia man is recognizing a nurse he calls his “angel in disguise.” Anthony Bookert is praising Susan Franco, a nurse at Chippenham Hospital, who helped him reunite with his mother after 17 years apart.

Bookert’s mother, Gail, was separated from him when he was a child due to health complications. The two lost touch again in 2003, and Gail eventually developed dementia. She lived in a group home and was frequently in and out of the hospital.

The last time Gail was admitted to Chippenham Hospital, nurse Susan Franco became determined to find her family members. Hospital staff previously thought there were no family connections on record, but Franco scoured Gail’s files and found the contact information for one of Gail’s four children.

Franco said she was just doing her job — but Bookert calls her an “angel in disguise” for finding his mom. Chippenham Hospital

Anthony Bookert said he was “astonished” when he got the call from Franco in late April. “I never thought I would get that call because it had been so long since I’ve seen her,” Bookert told CBS News during a video interview along with Franco. “When she called me, I just was happy to find out she was alive, honestly.”

Bookert said he was grateful to Franco for giving him a chance to be with his mom again. Franco said it’s just part of her job. “We make calls all the time to family members. So, it was just something we do on a routine basis,” Franco told CBS News during the interview.

Still, Bookert praised the nurse who he said went “over and beyond” her job. “It’s a blessing. And I’m so thankful for Ms. Susan Franco,” he said. “I truly feel in my heart God works in mysterious ways. Not our timing, but his timing, you know what I mean? For her to give me that call, it’s overwhelming. It all happened the way it happened. Man, it touched me. It really touched me.”

Franco said she agrees: “I feel the same way he does that God does things on his timing and I’m just so glad I could be a part of that,” the nurse said.

Since hospitals are limiting visitors to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Bookert hasn’t been able to see his mom in person, but he said he talks to her on the phone, with help from Franco and another nurse. He also said he’s been delivering items to his mom. He said since he can’t go inside, Franco meets him outside the hospital and helps bring things to his mom’s room.

Bookert and his family are now working to find long-term care facility for Gail and they are organizing a trip for family to see her when they are allowed.

Bookert said he prays he can see his mom in person soon, but he understands why hospitals must limit visitors. “I just want to thank everyone, all the nurse out there, who are doing what they’re doing with their job, and going out and beyond what they do to help people,” Bookert said.

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