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Jacob Batalona

Jacob Batalona remembers when he asked his social worker, “Do you think my wife Pearl can come stay here with me? I want to be with her.”

“I just asked the question,” said Mr. Batalona. “Everyone worked hard to bring her here.”

His wife Pearl had been receiving care at Hilo Medical Center and he enlisted his children to help with their mother’s surprise transfer to Honokaa. When Pearl, who had lost her sight earlier due to cataracts, was wheeled into the room her children told her, “Mom, it’s dad!” Mr. Batalona recalled through tears.

In addition to reuniting him with his wife, the staff at the long term care facility in Honokaa also facilitated her cataract surgery. For the next two years, husband and wife enjoyed each other’s company – she even helped him rig a set up so he could make throw nets from the comfort of his bed.

“Pearl passed away in front of me on Mother’s Day in 2014,” said Mr. Batalona. “By being here, I’ve learned how people take care of people. You have pride because you were once so independent, but I hadn’t been outside for a while. I couldn’t get in a wheelchair by myself.”

“I recognized that Mr. Batalona could do more and encouraged him,” says Melissa Chaudoin, physical therapist, pictured with nurse aides Rosario Espejo, Raquel Abad and Jenna Aki. “He worked very hard doing strengthening exercises so he could transfer himself from his bed to the wheelchair.”

Learning to use the transfer board has lifted Mr. Batalona’s spirit. “Now I get up, get dressed and go out to talk story with the others. I can even get in a car. My friend just took me to see all the places I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Jacob Batalona