The staff at Oak Park Arms saved my life

I have lived in the Oak Park Arms retirement community at 408 S Oak Park Ave., for two years and three months, and I would like to share with the Wednesday Journal readership the story of some extraordinary assistance — above and beyond the call of duty — that I received about three months ago. At that time, Ms. Jill Wagner (marketing director), assisted to some degree by Ms. Judy Petersen (life enrichment coordinator and home care supervisor), intervened in my life and somehow cajoled and impressed upon me that I urgently needed to go to the hospital.

I was adamantly opposed to this. I did not believe anything was wrong. However, Jill perceived that I was demonstrating dangerous symptoms such as confusion, diminished motor skills, and slurred speech. I tried to avoid Jill for a day or two, but she and Judy caught up with me and were compassionately insistent that I go to the hospital.

Eventually, I caved in and went to the hospital, though I did this primarily to humor them, and figured I would be back home in a matter of hours.

As it turned out, I was put in intensive care. I had developed a fever that spiked to 106 degrees, and my blood chemistry was extremely out of whack.

I stayed in intensive care for the next few weeks and came close to death on several occasions. The medical team diagnosed that I was having an acute and extremely rare life-threatening reaction to one of my medications.

Readers should be aware that at the time of my illness onset, I was not primarily residing at the Arms for any medical condition. I was a so-called “independent resident.” It was clearly not in Jill Wagner’s job description as marketing director to intervene the way she did regarding my serious medical issue, or to get the capable Judy Petersen involved.

Frankly, I believe the Arms saved my life. Today, I am healthy and back living at the Arms. In a world which is driven so much by monetary considerations, the Arms exhibited extraordinary care even though my income and monthly rent are among the lowest in the community.

Richard B. Thomas
Oak Park, Illinois

Read the article on