Small Hospital, Top Quality Care…and Cinnamon Rolls!


A family of eight gathers together, in room 118 of a small hospital, ready to say goodbye to their matriarch, Simone.  She is 98 years old, and has suffered a stroke two days before.  The mood is solemn and quiet. In an effort to comfort the family, the hospital chef prepares refreshments and a staple comfort food, freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  The family greatly appreciated this kind gesture during this difficult time.  The delicious, fragrant aroma of the cinnamon rolls wafted into the room and Simone seemed to stir from her deep sleep.


The famous Cinnamon Rolls!

There is no confirmed correlation between the delicious smell of the cinnamon rolls, and Simone’s subsequent awakening, but it was clear at that point, that she had decided to hold on.  The next day, she was awake and alert and sitting upright in bed, enjoying a delicious breakfast, eager to go home.  Days later, she is still improving but not after a most stressful start.

Simone’s journey began with a trip in an ambulance to the hospital with signs and symptoms of a
possible stroke.  Although her family requested that she be brought to Sonoma West Medical Center, the ambulance saw it fit to take her to Memorial Hospital because of its Primary Stroke Center. Unfortunately, Memorial was extremely busy and crowded.  Simone was almost lost in the shuffle of a hectic emergency room; being moved from bay to bay and then ultimately to a hallway.  Twenty-four hours later, the families’ second request to have Simone moved was arranged.  Upon her arrival to SWMC, Simone was welcomed warmly and quickly, due to her condition, by the hospital “family.”

Two weeks later, I met with Simone’s daughter, Mai, and her husband, Xuan, in the SWMC Café. It was a rainy Friday afternoon.  They both greeted me with warm smiles and enthusiasm.  “It was a very happy drive coming back here,” Mai stated.  I was surprised at this joyful statement, because unfortunately hospitals tend to carry a negative connotation.  However, sitting with Mai and Xuan, and listening to their story, would change anyone’s perspective.  They explained that despite Mai’s mother’s health scare; they had fond memories of their experience with Sonoma West Medical Center and its staff.  Dr. Denno, whom was Simone’s primary doctor and is one of Sonoma West’s Hospitalists, diagnosed and treated Simone’s stroke.  While she recovered from her stroke, Dr. Denno took it upon herself to bring Simone ice cream everyday before she left work.  Even in Simone’s decline in her early days at the hospital, Dr. Denno called the family every hour with a progress report on her health.  “Dr. Denno’s diagnosis was spot on,” Xuan said, “Mom is recovering so well.”

As Simone continued to improve, the hospital’s quality of care never faltered.  Mai described the hospital, as “from top to bottom, all the staff was amazing.”

Simone is now recovering at a post-acute care facility where she continues to rebuild her strength, with her family by her side.  Mai and her husband are so thankful for the level of care Simone received, they have committed to being public advocates for the hospital so that other families may experience the unconditional level of care and support that they did.

At the end of our interview, Xuan and Mai asked each other to come up with a tag line for the hospital. After throwing out a few ideas, they both agreed on, “small hospital, top quality care.”


Alyssa Soares

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