By Onz Chery

Personal care worker Marie Deolall sitting next to her patient Suzette Marcelin. Photo by Paul Stremple

RiverSpring Health’s nurse aide Marie Deolall already clocked out and had to go to her other job, but her 101-year-old patient Suzette Marcelin needed to get out of bed. Taking care of Marcelin isn’t just a job to Deolall, therefore she didn’t mind staying past her time.

The 52-year-old has been going above and beyond to assist Marcelin for seven years. Without being asked to, she went through the hassle of not bathing Marcelin in the shower when the novel coronavirus was rampant in Brooklyn out of fear that her patient would’ve caught the virus. Deolall also helped Marcelin get more benefits from her insurance amongst other acts of kindness.

“In my entire life, I’ve never seen a woman care so much for her patient,” said Marcelin’s 66-year-old son, Ricot Antenor. “She’s an outstanding worker. She opened her eyes wide to take care of my mom. She fills everything my mother needs. They’re like mother and daughter. I feel great, I can just leave her with my mother with my eyes closed.”

Ricot Antenor posing for a picture next to Suzette Marcelin alongside her personal care workers. Photo by Paul Stremple

Deolall was rewarded for diligently taking care of Marcelin. RiverSpring Health, which is located in Harlem, N.Y., selected her as Aide of the Year in July. RiverSpring Health had as much as 59 aides this year thus far. Deolall stands out because of her attention to detail and genuine close relationship with Marcelin.

“Whatever what I do, I do it with all my heart,” Deolall said. “I put the patient first. I leave the house like it was mine. I don’t leave without putting stuff in their spot. Happiness is the key for them. Sometimes the patients might not be happy because they can’t do some stuff they used to do. For them not to be depressed, you have to find an amusement, sometimes we laugh, we talk about everything. I’m really satisfied and honored to get the award, I’ve been working for a long time and now people are recognizing me.”

Marie Deolall holding the Aide of the Year award. Photo by Paul Stremple

When Deolall initially started taking care of Marcelin in 2013 she came as a replacement and was only supposed to work a five-hour shift twice a week for two weeks. As Marcelin did with her previous aides, she didn’t give her any instructions because everything is in the care plan.

Marcelin’s previous aides vaguely did as they saw fit. But as for Deolall, she always stayed by Marcelin’s side, analyzed every situation, and thoroughly took care of her. For instance, Deolall didn’t rush when she was bathing her and prepared her meal with care. Marcelin quickly noticed the difference.

“Even though Marie wasn’t coming for a while, she was correct,” Marcelin said. “She knows everything – everything. She did everything correct.”

Marcelin’s family noticed the difference as well and requested for Deolall to take care of her full-time. Deolall eventually knew her patient like the back of her hand, from her diet to her health issues, to her insurance plan, her appointments, etc. She became indispensable. Even when Deolall is off, Marcelin would call her when she’s in need.

“I tell them [members of my family] call Marie at her house,” Marcelin said, gently raising her voice. “I say call Marie and ask her what’s here and what’s not here. I don’t know anything.”

The two also learned about each other’s lives. Marcelin tells Deolall about her past. For Marcelin’s 101st birthday, Deolall organized a prayer-line with her friends from church. Although she’s 101, Marcelin doesn’t suffer many illnesses. Deolall said Marcelin’s secret is her healthy meatless diet.

Marcelin is counting the months before her 102nd birthday at Deolall’s side. RiverSpring Health has 75 patients who are over 100. The organization’s Member of Services’ vice-president Patty Hron is satisfied because Deolall is helping make Marcelin’s late years easier.

“Our goal is to keep members in their own home, in the community, and living their best life possible,” Hron said. “And we have these wonderful aides, personal care workers, at their homes. Marie is really, really fantastic. She cares for our 101-year-old member as if it was a family member and Suzette actually said she’s blessed to have an aide like Marie. When she was told that Marie was going to get honored as aide of the year, she actually had tears in her eyes.”

It’s not the first time Deolall won an award at work. She won RiverSpring’s Employee of the Month in December and also bagged that same award with Heart to Heart Home Care.

“Hard work pays off,” Deolall said. “I’d love for young aides to learn that from my example. If you work hard someone will recognize that. Someone will award you. I don’t even know what words to use, I really appreciate it. I hope the young aides will do just like me so they can get rewarded tomorrow too.”

Email me at onz@haitiantimes.com
Onz Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and ESNY before joining The Haitian Times. Onz is also a Report for America corps member.

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