Father and son connect at Good Samaritan Sioux Falls Village

Both men followed similar paths working in health care

Luke Simmons, standing in full PPE and his work uniform, poses with his dad Jerry (seated and in face mask).

Luke Simmons’ 25-year career as a nurse at Good Samaritan Society – Sioux Falls Village has connected him with many residents and patients over the years. Now, his dad, Jerry, is one of them.

After leaving the hospital, Jerry started rehabilitation therapy at the Village, where Luke is the assistant director of nursing.

The pandemic started a few months after Jerry arrived, so Luke wasn’t able to see his dad for several weeks while his room was in a quarantined area. But with the wing now open, the two have been able to connect.

“We had a nice, long conversation,” said Luke. “I appreciate that he takes everything in stride.”

As with most people, Luke says the visitor restrictions have been hard on his parents. Before the pandemic, Jerry’s wife visited the Village often.

“It was kind of rough for a while because I can’t see my wife,” Jerry said.

Even though they miss seeing each other in person, they make up for it by talking on the phone several times a day.

Father and son memories

Luke has good memories of being in Boy Scouts with his dad as the scoutmaster.

“My dad was very involved with scouting,” said Luke. “I appreciated how he lead the troop but had time to spend with his sons when we were on a camping trip or racing pinewood derby cars.”

Jerry has fond memories of coaching Luke in baseball. And today, he’s proud of the man Luke has become and the profession he’s in.

Careers in health care

Both men followed similar paths working in health care.

Jerry was in the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, an Army unit. He served as an aviation medical officer in Vietnam for one year, where he spent much of his time in helicopters taking care of flight crews. He did his residency at the University of Michigan and then joined the staff there.

He came to Sanford Health in 1981 as a pathologist. During his time there, Jerry did a lot of traveling around the state for work. He retired in 2008.

Pursuing a health care career like his dad, Luke graduated from Augustana University with a nursing degree and then began working at Sioux Falls Village as a night nurse. He’s worked his way up, serving as an MDS coordinator and rehab unit manager before starting in his current role.

He always felt called to go into the medical field. His mom had been a nurse and he decided to go that route at the encouragement of his dad.

“You fall in love with the care and the residents,” said Luke. “I like the older folks and get along with them really well.”

Steady healing

At Sioux Falls Village, Jerry is working on healing his leg. When he first arrived, he wasn’t able to put any weight on it and needed fairly extensive nursing care.

“The CNAs and the nurses have really been nice to me and I’ve appreciated their work,” said Jerry.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions at Sioux Falls Village, the rehabilitation unit and gym are not available. As an alternative, the therapy team has Jerry walk in the hallways and use equipment that’s been set up in a room.

Until his dad is able to go home, Luke is glad he can be there for him and watch his steady progress with the rehab therapy team.

“They challenge me, which is the way it’s supposed to be,” Jerry said. “The therapists are working hard with me and I’m getting better.”

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Posted In Faces of Sanford Health, Health Care Heroes, Rehabilitation & Therapy, Senior Services, Sioux Falls

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