Josefina Lugo Medina received an early Mother’s Day gift thanks to ArchCare when she was reunited with her 68-year-old daughter, Lydia Cardona.
The two women had not shared an embrace in more than three years. The 95-year-old Ms. Lugo Medina, a widow, is a resident at ArchCare at San Vicente de Paúl Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in the South Bronx. Mrs. Cardona, who lives in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on the island’s southern coast, is one of the countless Puerto Ricans who remain affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island last September.
Mrs. Cardona told CNY that she and her family went three months without electricity or running water in their home. She was forced into early retirement 12 years ago after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her husband of 52 years, Manuel Cardona, is now her caretaker. The couple moved to Puerto Rico after he retired from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York.
Mrs. Cardona said life with MS is both physically painful and mentally frustrating. Her medical afflictions have limited her mobility and ability to travel. Devastation from hurricanes have made attending doctor appointments impossible because many doctors have moved out of Puerto Rico, she said. Mrs. Cardona explained that her mother was admitted to San Vicente in large part because of her own medical condition, which made her unable to care for her mother.
The program that made the mother-daughter reunion possible is ArchCare’s Mission on the Move. The two women took part in the elaborate Mother’s Day celebratory luncheon May 13 at San Vicente de Paúl. A fully catered three-course meal was prepared for the female residents and their families. Music and dancing were also enjoyed at the facility on Intervale Avenue.
An emotional Mrs. Cardona shared her thoughts with CNY. “I am overwhelmed, ecstatic; I am so happy and just thrilled because I did not think I was going to see my mother alive again. I came to see her three years ago and I wanted to take her home with me to Puerto Rico, but I feel terrible because I can’t even take care of myself.”
Ms. Lugo Medina, a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a mother of six, and grandmother of four, and she has two great-grandchildren. She moved to New York at age 30 when her daughter Lydia was 3 months old.
Ms. Lugo Medina suffers from dementia and her mobility is limited to a wheelchair, according to her daughter. She did ask her daughter if she planned to eat during the Mother’s Day luncheon. Mrs. Cardona rested her hand on her mother’s as she fed her with her free hand.
Mrs. Cardona arrived in New York for her reunion with her mother May 10 and returned to Puerto Rico five days later. Before her departure, she said that she would be sad to leave her mother but that her heart would be at ease after seeing how well her mother is being cared for at San Vicente.
“Mother’s Day is probably the biggest holiday for us here,” said Richard Biscotti, executive director for San Vicente de Paúl. “This year was a little bit more special because of Mission on the Move bringing together Mrs. Cardona and Josefina. The staff loves the holiday; it’s really a beautiful event.”
San Vicente de Paúl Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has a staff of 140 who care for 120 nursing home residents and another 59 people in the ArchCare assisted living program. An adult day care and medical services are also provided there.
Luis Flores has been the director of recreation at San Vicente for 20 years. He said the Mother’s Day party began 12 years ago to accommodate the physical conditions of its residents, most of whom are bedridden and unable to celebrate the day off-site.
“Today is a wonderful day that we are sharing with our guests of honor, Lydia and Josefina,” Flores said, adding, “I am proud of our staff’s effort and the work of ArchCare to make this dream a reality for this family.”