Published on October 14, 2013

Living LIFE to its fullest

Ernest has been coming to Mercy LIFE for five years.

LIFE staffA few years ago, he mentioned to his son, Ernest Harris, Jr., that he should look into how Mercy LIFE could help him, as well.

“He told me it would be a good program for me to help with my medicine and the fact that there’s a doctor on the premises at all times,” says Mr. Ernest Harris, Jr., 70, who has terminal cancer. When he first arrived at Mercy LIFE, he was 60 pounds thinner, and was exhausted from rounds of chemotherapy.

“I feel 100% better since coming here,” says Mr. Harris, Jr. “When I started coming to Mercy LIFE, the weight started coming back on. The doctors gave me this little pill that brought my appetite back! I feel so good now.”

“I feel good about it, too,” agrees his father. “That’s my oldest son. When he gets sick, I’m sick, too. I don’t want him to be ill.”

Now, father and son go to the Mercy LIFE Adult Day Center on Broad Street twice a week. They love the Mercy LIFE outings, such as trips to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J. And they love the cognitive activities like trivia, word games and poker sessions that keep their brains stimulated and active.

“They both participate in anything that’s going on and it’s quite a joy,” says Caitlin Gunnells, a Mercy LIFE recreation therapy supervisor. “Especially Mr. Harris, Jr. -- he’s really flourished here. This is a program that brings joy into his life, especially with his cancer. We really believe we have prolonged his life.”

They both also appreciate the high-quality medical care and attention they receive at Mercy LIFE.

Mr. Harris Sr., 90, has diabetes and suffered a serious stroke a few years ago that left him in a wheelchair. He works regularly with a physical therapist at the center.

“We’re very hands on with his care,” says Dr. Donna Raziano, MD, MBA, FACP, Mercy LIFE Chief Medical Officer. “We remind him what medicine to take and how often. Our physical therapists work constantly with him, and just last week they had him out of the chair and walking with a walker.”

When Mr. Harris, Sr. is not at the Mercy LIFE Center, he has a home health aide. And both have Lifeline® which is provided by Mercy in case of a medical emergency. Mercy clinicians are available any time of the day or night if they need immediate assistance or simply have a question to ask.

“They are both aging gracefully,” continues Dr. Raziano. “Part of aging is accepting your conditions. And the Harris’ are doing just that. They look out for each other; they’re both more accepting of help. Aging gracefully is all about accepting the aging process.”