Former client and family call OT their guardian angel

Good Samaritan Society therapist helps people ‘get better, get independent, get home’

Smiling Good Samaritan Society employee holds a cake with "Congratulations Cassie!" written in icing.

Whenever Sandy Sundin and her family need therapy and rehabilitation services, they search out Cassie Thompson and her team in International Falls, Minnesota.

“She’s just got a knack for caring for people and helping people,” Sundin, a nurse at a local hospital, says. “She always, always, puts the clients first.”

‘Cassie is an angel’

A lead occupational therapist, Thompson looks after inpatient and outpatient clients and residents at Good Samaritan Society – International Falls. She also helps people in their homes through Sanford Bemidji Home Care and Hospice.

“Very personalized (care). First and foremost, looking at what is the patient’s goal? What is the family’s goal? What do we need to do to support their quality of life?” Thompson says about her team’s approach to occupational, physical and speech therapy.

That attention to detail is gaining recognition in the community. Sundin’s family is nominating Thompson for a Guardian Angel award through the Good Samaritan Foundation.

“Cassie is an angel,” Sundin says. “She puts her heart and soul into her job. Quality is first. Her staff is very accountable.”

A former outpatient client, Sundin says her parents were also positively impacted under Thompson’s care and guidance.

Thompson’s colleague and Society administrator, Carrie Claybundy, says the honor is well-deserved. Claybundy, along with members of the home care and hospice crew, threw a surprise party for Thompson to celebrate.

“She’s somebody that I look up to as a professional just in the way she carries herself every day,” Claybundy says.

“I can’t think of anybody more deserving on our team than Cassie. She’s very dedicated. Very committed. She definitely deserves to be recognized for the work she does.”

‘Where my heart is’

Serving older adults and the general adult population in her hometown of International Falls has become Thompson’s passion, and it shows.

“Working with the geriatric population is not why I started to become an OT but that is now where my heart is,” Thompson says.

“The recognition just really solidified that I’m making the difference that I want to make and I’m supporting my community.”

The Society, along with Sanford Health, can meet clients, patients and residents wherever they are on their health care journey.

“It’s phenomenal when you’re able to go in somebody’s home and help them generalize information,” Thompson says about home care. “(You) really get a better idea of how things look and feel. What are their routines? What are their habits? That’s how you can make the biggest impact. Just getting to know them better.”

What sets the Society’s caregivers apart is their ability to provide for a person’s spiritual needs in addition to the mental and physical.

“Focusing on the patient as a whole, not just their mind and their body. Tapping into what’s important for them, what drives them, in order to get them better, get them home or to get them to be as independent and safe as possible,” Thompson says.

Anyone can nominate a staff member or volunteer making a difference as a Guardian Angel. All you have to do is make a gift of any amount to the Good Samaritan Foundation.

“I just want to thank (Cassie) for all that she did and continues to do for everybody,” Sundin says.

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Bemidji, Rehabilitation & Therapy, Senior Services