Faith in Practice
A ruptured appendix is always a serious medical event but in April, 1947 when Hank Gordes, age 15, was rushed to Saint Joseph Hospital on Caroline Street in the middle of the night, it was often fatal. Today, 70 years later, Gordes remembers every detail of that harrowing experience.
"I still remember the true sense of emergency, being rushed down the hallway on a stretcher to the operating room. A doctor and nurses were running alongside me. Penicillin was new then and the only antibiotic there was. The surgeon told my terrified parents that he got my appendix out just as it was bursting but I would need two weeks of inpatient care, with shots of penicillin every two hours, 24 hours a day," says Gordes. "I remember the care as much as the emergency itself. The nurses, most of whom were Sisters at that time, were so kind to me. I didn't even mind when they had to wake me every night for my shots. During the day, I would lie in my bed and look across the street to where my classmates were playing in the schoolyard. The nurses would tease me about how this was a fine way to play hooky from school," he laughs.
Gordes never forgot the care he received as a boy. In 1976, when he and his wife, as well as the hospital, had moved to Towson, he returned to UM St. Joseph Medical Center to hear Mass in our Chapel every Sunday. For the past 15 years, Gordes has volunteered in the Chapel, both setting up the altar for Mass and serving as a Eucharistic Minister, assisting with Communion. "Our Chapel is like a family; it's small, loving and so welcoming of everyone."
Since 1992, when donations to the Chapel were first recorded and saved, Gordes has made an astounding 441 gifts in support of Spiritual Care. His generosity has helped with Chapel operating expenses, hospice care, bereavement care for families, and most recently, he made a generous contribution to replace all of the microphones in the Chapel. "Mass is so important – I want to make sure everyone can hear it loud and clear," he smiles.
"The care today is the same wonderful care I received as a young teenager. My family, who has used St. Joe's over many years, have always been treated with the same love and compassion that I remembered from a frightening night a long time ago. This is my spiritual home."