Left to right: Mitch Metzger, executive director at Rivergate Health Care Center; John Polturanus, Lakes Region vice president; Garrison; Amy Swalwell, executive director at Rivergate Terrace; and Zo Long, Northeast Division vice president

On July 13, 2016, Julia Fox Garrison, a stroke survivor and bestselling author, stood before a group of Life Care associates dressed in superhero capes to share her story.


It was the Lakes Region’s annual Rewarding Excellence banquet, with executive directors, certified nursing assistants and other associates from the company’s Ohio and Michigan buildings gathered to present awards and gain inspiration. The event had a superhero theme.


Garrison was more than pleased to provide inspiration for these heroes. Her book, “Don’t Leave Me This Way (or When I Get Back on My Feet You’ll Be Sorry)” tells of her experiences having a stroke at age 37 and how she navigated the challenges of recovery and the obstacle course of American health care. She shares about difficult situations with a lot of humor.


“I heard her speak at an American College of Health Care Administrators meeting, and I was blown away,” said Zo Long, Northeast Division vice president.


Long contacted Garrison to ask if she would present for the division’s Rewarding Excellence banquets, and Garrison agreed to do so, speaking to the Patriot and Walden regions in June as well as the Lakes Region in July.


“Julia talked about how much individual caregivers meant to her,” Long said. “Our associates were grateful to hear her speak, and she validated for them the impact of their work.”


“The theme ‘superheroes’ really suits all your employees,” said Garrison.


The highlight of the banquets for her, she shared, was hearing the stories of the associates being honored – the CNAs of the Year and the Team Spirit Award winners.


“The people, the stories – they energized me,” Garrison said. “The executive director would say why this person or that person was chosen, and I couldn’t stop crying. Most of these people who do these acts of kindness aren’t looking for recognition. In fact, many of them are shy about it. They do these things because it’s innate in who they are.”


Garrison’s time with Life Care also included a visit to Rivergate Health Care Center and Rivergate Terrace in Riverview, Michigan. She toured the twin facilities and gave a presentation to each center’s therapy team.


“I have been to a lot of places, and I’ve never seen the genuine connection come through like that,” said Garrison. “There was a lot of levity between the caregivers and the residents, and you don’t see that a lot of places. You could feel it in the hallways. Although I have only seen a few Life Care facilities and employees, I know there is a general philosophy of compassion throughout each Life Care facility across the U.S. I am confident that there are many angels on earth roaming the hallways of Life Care, making a positive difference in others’ lives.”

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