The WellSpan Spotlight

Mental health and wellbeing

WellSpan BrightSpot: Team pays final respects to former U.S Marine

WellSpan BrightSpot: Team pays final respects to former U.S Marine

Who: Lisa Myers, licensed practical nurse, and the team at the WellSpan Imaging at Apple Hill; patient Philip Piermatteo Jr. and his son, Philip Piermatteo III.

What: Philip Piermatteo III brought his 89-year-old dad, Philip Jr., to Apple Hill in late January for a CT scan. He dropped his dad off at the door, placing him in a wheelchair, and went to park his car. When he returned, he found his dad did not look well. The team quickly sprang into action, placing the father on a gurney, taking his vitals, and calling 911. Unfortunately, Philip Jr., who had a previous heart condition, passed away a short time later.

The team made sure the son had some privacy and care while he waited with his father's body for funeral home staff to arrive. When they did, the funeral home staff placed a cover with an American flag over the body of Philip Jr., who had more than 20 years of active service in the U.S. Marines and an additional 20 years in the Reserves, in preparation for wheeling him out to their waiting vehicle.

Lisa Myers walked with Philip III and his late father to the funeral home vehicle. As they passed through the building, WellSpan staff members stood silently in the hallways to honor the family.

"It seemed like the whole staff was there to pay their respects," Philip III says. "Oh my gosh, it's something I will never forget. I was in awe of the situation. I was totally impressed by the staff and how they managed the situation."

Philip III's brother John is a delivery technician for WellSpan Medical Equipment. When John heard later from his brother what happened, he was incredibly moved.

"What an amazing show of respect!" he says. "I am so proud to work for a company that has people who care this much about their patients."

Words to live by: Lisa says her co-workers quickly scrambled to help the family when Philip Jr. fell ill. "Everybody just dropped everything, and we came together as a team," she says.

Lisa stayed with the son as his father took his final breaths and encouraged him to hold his hand as they spoke quietly to him, reassuring the father that his son was there.

The team notified others in the building, so they were prepared for the final walk to the funeral home vehicle.

"It was just quiet, and you could feel their respect," she says. "No one had to say anything. You could just feel it."

At the end of the day, Lisa and a co-worker broke down and cried together.

"It was hard," she says, "knowing that the son came in thinking it would be a normal day and he was there trying to help his dad. It wasn't the day he was expecting."

Their main goal was to support the family throughout that difficult journey.

"We come to work every day to do the best that we can for each and every patient, no matter what the situation is," Lisa says. "We give the best care we can. This was an emergency, and you always have to think of the family. You have someone here. You're not alone. We are here to support you."