Retired missionary, author graduates to independent living

Cancer survivor moves from nursing home to assisted living to independent apartment

Retired missionary, author graduates to independent living

Believing in Ruth Wiertzema’s health care journey is going to take some faith.

“I was in Ellsworth (Minnesota) in the nursing home because a doctor told me I was terminal,” Wiertzema says about her living situation before moving to the Good Samaritan Society.

“I had started out with breast cancer and then it moved to my lungs.”

Thankfully, the Bible study leader, now at a Good Samaritan Society senior living center in Luverne, Minnesota, is continuing to make a miraculous recovery after treatment and prayer.

“You’re looking at a miracle,” Wiertzema says. “Somehow he has, still, purpose for me. I believe strongly that God is in my life and in my health and I have great thanksgiving for that.”

‘Organization sees life differently’

Society administrator Melissa McCorquodale says the 84-year-old was in rough shape when she came to assisted living a year ago.

“She had a very unique story coming in,” McCorquodale says. “The case that we were given when she came seemed almost kind of higher on the end of care that we would provide here.”

Determined to graduate to an independent apartment, the retired missionary and author accomplished just that this August.

“They had this apartment that was able to accommodate my sewing equipment and my collections. I like being on the second floor because I can see out and see the world,” Wiertzema says.

“I’m able to do my sewing which is very important for me mentally and physically.”

McCorquodale adds Wiertzema “got back to her high quality of life that she wanted and still gets to be a part of it. Staff play a big part in that.”

Wiertzema credits the Society and its team members with lifting her spirits.

“A faith-based organization sees life differently,” Wiertzema says. “It’s not just a place. It’s a home for everybody.”

“I had no idea about the facilities that are here and the workers that are gracious and accommodating and care for people.”

‘A place people could enjoy’

A force in the community, Wiertzema brings residents together.

“Started wanting to host activities in our activity room. Hosting Bible studies and just really kind of being interactive even when she still wasn’t at her ultimate health that she is now,” McCorquodale says.

Kicking off Bible study when she was in assisted living, Wiertzema is proud to continue the weekly meetings to this day. And everyone is welcome.

“I’m amazed at the people that are in that group at how informed they are and how dedicated they are to their faith. This place offers us a chance to do that,” Wiertzema says.

“Not every place would welcome that. This place does.”

She’s still authoring new chapters. Wiertzema, an avid writer since childhood, just published a Christian children’s book with the help of a friend.

“Sat down at the computer and I wrote that story about the curious fox at the manger,” Wiertzema says.

She plans to share stories for years to come from the comfort of her new home.

“It was very inviting. It felt good,” Wiertzema says. “It felt like a place people could enjoy. When we started looking at rooms I said, ‘Yeah, this is great.’”

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Posted In Cancer, Community, Luverne, Senior Services