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Side by side picture of elderly woman when she was younger and now

What Happens When the Nurse Becomes the Patient?

When Elizabeth “Betty” Berolatti worked as a nurse at United Hebrew in the 1970s, she used to walk her residents down the hall so they could speak with their loved ones from a shared telephone booth. Last month, during her recent  six-week stay at our short-term rehabilitation unit, she spoke to her son from the comfort of her own private room via video chat.

“Things really are different now,” she marveled in a recent interview with her former employer.

Back then, residents would ring a bell if they needed assistance. Now, nurses carry around smart devices that alert them when someone needs help. There were no televisions in rooms and all patient care update notes were handwritten, instead of entered into the electronic records of today.

But what hasn’t changed about United Hebrew is the quality of care, said Berolatti, now 89 years old.

“It was a good place to work back then. People were kind, cooperative, and understanding. Being here here as a patient, I found the culture was still the same,” she noted.

‘Everything was excellent’

Last February, Berolatti fractured her femur and spent six weeks in the short-term rehabilitation center. Following that, in December, she fractured her pelvis, returning to the center for seven-week stint. She and her family selected United Hebrew for her rehabilitation because of her personal connection and their positive reputation.

Coincidentally, Berolatti ended up being cared for by the certified nursing assistant whom she IMG 4525trained over 40 years ago. She received physical and occupational therapy daily. She learned how to walk with her new walker and how to climb and descend stairs, which she has to do at home. She also practiced how to safely get in and out of a vehicle in the gym’s car simulator.

“The nurses were very friendly and compassionate,” Berolatti recalls. “I enjoyed having full room service and looking out at the beautiful view of the Long Island Sound. I could look at that all day. Everything was excellent. I have no complaints!”

Now she is back at home, doing the things she loves: puzzles, word games, and cooking. She’s already planning on tending her garden when winter thaws, re-engaging with the New Rochelle Garden Club, and volunteering at the New Rochelle library, and seeing her former co-workers, many of whom became lifelong friends of hers. She fondly remembers the fun she had working at United Hebrew, from celebrating New Year’s Eve on the overnight shift to caring for residents.

“I liked geriatrics. I liked working with older people. It made me happy.”