Caregiver of the Year 2016 Rev. Glenda Murray-Kelly.
Kelly's Choice 2015 Caregiver of the Year Renita Satterfield.
A story of love and dedication...
I want to share a story of a phenomenal caregiver, Mrs. Renita Satterfield. When she moved to Virginia and married her soul-mate Herley Satterfield, it seems as though her life as a caregiver began. Within one year of their marriage, her dear sweet mother-in-law was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Renita and her husband sacrificed their dreams of home ownership and moved in with her mother-in-law to assist her with her daily living needs. As her mother-in-law's health declined, Renita began working part-time in an effort to provide around the clock care. During this time, Renita became pregnant with her first child, Lauryn Marie. Within the second trimester, there were multiple complications. One month before the birth of her child, her mother-in-law passed away. In May of 2000, Lauryn Marie was born. Lauryn was three months premature and weighed one pound at birth. She faced many health challenges, including hydrocephalus (which required multiple brain surgeries), cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hearing impairment, severe pulmonary disease, autism and vision difficulties. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, her husband Herley was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure. He began dialysis in an effort to prolong his life. Due to the demands of family, Renita made the decision forego her career and became a stay at home mom. Being a first time mom with little to no assistance with taking care of a special needs infant, she prayed often for strength, wisdom and patience. There were many instances when Lauryn and Herley were hospitalized simultaneously for long bouts of time. Renita would stay with Lauryn at CHKD until she fell asleep and would then walk over to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to visit with Herley until the CHKD nurse would call to let her know that Lauryn was awake. Renita's strength and love for her family is so amazing and evident in everything she does. She never complained about her family's circumstances. She would even find time to visit other church members or friends who may have been patients in the both hospitals. Frequent hospital stays were a part of the norm for this family. After a few years of pleading, Renita was able to convince Herley to expand their family. In September 2005, Gabrielle Nicole was born. "Gabi" was also born premature. She was 2 months early and weighed two pounds. Just as expected, Renita again rose to the challenge. She took both girls to various therapies and would often pick her husband up from dialysis if he was too weak to drive himself home. Renita and her husband were great partners and worked hard to raise their daughters with love, acceptance and kindness. Herley was a wonderful Special Needs Dad. Miraculously, Gabi has no health issues. Renita educated herself on everything relating to her family's needs. From diet and nutrition, medication, insurance and holistic methods, no area was off limits. She is jokingly called "Dr. Satterfield". Herley had a special renal diet and Lauryn has severe food allergies. She would often joke and say she needed to place a small cot in the kitchen as she had to prepare several different meals daily. Renita would often work small part-time jobs at night to help supplement their household income. A large portion of the family’s income was spent on medicine and copays for doctor's visits and therapies.
In 2007, Renita's health started to fail and she finally took time to have an outpatient procedure performed. Unfortunately, because she placed everyone else's health before her own, her outpatient procedure turned into major surgery which required a lengthy hospital stay. She had never been separated from her husband or children. Fortunately, God had blessed her with an amazing support system that stepped in and took care of the girls. As fate would have it, the day after Renita's surgery, her husband received the call they had been waiting five years for, - a kidney for Herley. Renita was devasted that she would not be present for her husband's surgery. She was in a different hospital and not well enough to visit him for a few days. Renita willed herself back to health quickly. She knew she had to be at 100% so she could resume her responsibilities.
Unfortunately, her husband contracted an infection from the donated kidney and within a few years his body completely rejected the organ. Herley had to resume dialysis once again. His health continued to decline for many years after.
During the next couple of years, both Lauryn and Gabi continued to thrive and develop. Herley had to retire from work early as his health would not permit him to continue his employment.
Due to the economic needs of the family, Renita decided to return to work, this time at CHKD. Herley became a stay at home dad. He was sick most days but still made sure he took good care of the girls, from combing hair, making light meals and dancing with them. His health took a turn for the worse in early 2013. His hospital stays were more frequent and longer. Renita now worked full-time, had two children and a critically ill husband. She would get the girls ready for school, go to work, visit Herley at Sentara Norfolk General during her lunch break, return to work, go home prepare dinner, check homework, braid hair, read bedtime stories and if someone was able to watch the girls at night, she would go back to the hospital and later nursing home to care for and visit her husband.
In June of 2013, Renita made the decision that she would once again leave the workforce and bring her husband home to care for him. By this time, Herley's health had deteriorated so drastically, he had become a below the knee amputee. Renita resigned from her job and petitioned the nursing home to allow her to care for her husband at home. The nursing home gave Renita intensive training on how to care for Herley. She mastered each and every item on the nursing home's list and was excited to bring her husband home to nurse him back to health. Herley's prosthetic leg was ready, all therapies, home health nurses and remodeling of their home was scheduled and ready. Renita, Lauryn and Gabi eagerly awaited the day, Daddy would be coming home. Unfortunately, one week before Herley's discharge from the nursing home, his health took a terrible turn for the worse, his entire body became septic. Herley passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, June 24, 2013. The love of Renita's life and the Lauryn and Gabi's amazing daddy was suddenly taken from them.
Renita was faced with one of her greatest fears --becoming a single parent and a single parent of a special needs child. She and Herley often spent time discussing the care and made decisions together concerning their children, especially Lauryn. Yet Renita, again found strength, wisdom and the patience to deal with the new cold world and new challenges and she rose to the occasion.