In October 2022, Shirley Gilford and her husband, Lloyd would have been married 51 years. Sadly, Lloyd passed away in 2004 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Lloyd spent his last week of life at Bailey-Boushay House (BBH). In the 18 years since his passing, Shirley has spent every day being grateful to the team at BBH for the quality medical care they gave Lloyd and the gentle kindness that helped him feel comfortable in his last few days.
“Allowing someone to care for your family member, especially in their time of greatest need is one of the most vulnerable places you can be. Bailey-Boushay gave my husband and me everything we needed during his last days,” Shirley says. “It inspired me to support Bailey-Boushay House and I’ve been giving ever since.”
Shirley says that her continued support for BBH also came from her background as a nurse. She spent her career as a nurse for Seattle Schools and loved being the comfort a child needed when they were sick or injured at school, away from their parents.
“A nurse’s role is much more than medical care. When people are sick, it’s very stressful and overwhelming. Part of our job is to treat them with humanity and compassion and that helps take away as much fear as possible,” she says. “Bailey-Boushay provides the medical care, and the warmth people need.”
Shirley had been his primary caregiver at home before he moved to BBH. When his care required more than what she could do at home, Lloyd’s oncology team and a social worker helped her find BBH.
“My husband was a Boeing engineer and had a very engineer personality. He was meticulous about everything, including the way he received care. Lloyd’s trust was earned, not given,” Shirley says. “But the Bailey-Boushay team earned his trust immediately and that just shows how much they listen to each patient’s needs.”
So when a family friend was struggling to find end-of-life nursing care for their daughter, Tonya, Shirley called BBH to see if they had space.
“Almost two decades later, I had the exact same experience. The person on the other end of the phone was patient and ready to help if they could,” she says. “I was able to assure my friend that Bailey-Boushay House would take care of her daughter, and they did.”
Just like when Lloyd was a patient, the nursing staff helped Tonya and her family have the most loving last few weeks together.
“The Bailey-Boushay team said to the family, please come be with each other as much as you can. Even when Tonya passed, they were with my friend and comforted her. It was the peace that everyone would want on such a difficult day.”
Reflecting on her years of giving, Shirley thinks about how important it is for the community to sustain BBH. She’s humbled by the idea that many gifts made it possible for Lloyd and Tonya to have the support they needed, and Shirley hopes she can ensure that for others through her giving.
“I want my gifts to be transformed into the same support we had,” Shirley says. I will keep giving because I know that every day a family member like me is grateful for this place.”
For more than 30 years, donor support has allowed Bailey-Boushay House to maintain the highest level of care for every patient.