OAKLAND – Sean McCusker, a 51-year-old husband and father of three from Livonia, has faced immense challenges in the last six months. Diagnosed with both COVID-19 and a stroke at the same time, he lost his ability to walk and speak fluently, and has battled hard to recover. His determination, along with caring staff members and loved ones, have made his recovery possible.
Sean’s journey began in late March, when he first experienced symptoms of COVID-19. After a telemedicine visit with his primary care provider, he was instructed to quarantine at home, as his symptoms were generally mild. He had a low-grade fever, which dissipated after roughly ten days of quarantine. On the thirteenth day of Sean’s quarantine, he was home with his children when he suddenly began to have difficulties speaking and moving his right arm. He was taken by ambulance to St. Mary Mercy Livonia, where staff determined he had suffered a stroke.
Sean was transferred to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland for stroke treatment. While there, he also tested positive for COVID-19. It remains unclear if his stroke and COVID-19 diagnosis were related, though there is some evidence that COVID-19 may increase stroke risk. Sean required ventilation support for a few days, and then moved to the ICU. His wife Marla shared how difficult this time was, as COVID-19 restrictions meant visitors were not allowed: “It was so hard to not be able to see him. The staff was amazing though; they’d put on PPE and hold a phone up to him so we could FaceTime.”
a young man, moving to the United States in the 1950s was a big opportunity,
but Frank Angileri admits he felt lost at first. He had taken some English courses while
working toward his degree at Palermo University in Italy and while he excelled
in grammar, he struggled with the spoken language.
came from a working class family and moved to Detroit with his wife, Bessie,
for employment, “I came over penniless,” he says. But, he brought his work ethic with him,
willing to take on many jobs including his first at Sanders, cleaning the mixers
used to make decadent swirls of frosting.
From there he stocked bags on each of the 27 floors at Hudson’s, the
once-towering hub of style and prestige on Woodward and Gratiot in downtown
Detroit, where he made many friends.
Finally, Frank’s native language became an asset when he began
translating articles from English to Italian for a Detroit area newspaper.
in 1953, Frank “discovered America.”
He was offered a position in the auto industry. Following a year at Chrysler, Frank took a
role as a quality engineer for Ford Motor Company. A position he held for 34 years, retired
from, and, when he missed working, used to launch a 16-year career in quality consulting.
presentations for Henry Ford II and traveling to visit partners throughout the
nation were two of Frank’s favorite roles at Ford. All of his hard work (sometimes 7 days a week),
his analytical mind, his eye for perfection and his charming ways were
appreciated and respected greatly by his employer and co-workers.
was living his dream, working in a prestigious, well-paid position, owning a
nice home, traveling and enjoying the love of his life. He and Bessie traveled to Italy nine times,
they took cruises, and enjoyed gourmet meals at restaurants and those that Bessie
prepared herself. He gleams with pride
when talking about the time she took first place for her baked lasagna in a
Redford Township cooking contest.
became ill with dementia and needed care at St. Mary Mercy Livonia, Frank
recognized that having the best trained nurses, clinicians and doctors made the
experience, even such a hard one, better.
He was extremely grateful for their expertise and their care. “Everyone needs to be treated like a
human being, like they matter. The nurses and doctors were knowledgeable,
thorough and kind.”
later, Frank also needed care at St. Mary Mercy and he says that he would never
want to go to another hospital, “the people at St. Mary treat you like
family. I enjoy spending time talking
with people and getting to know them. Some
of the staff even came in to spend time with me on Christmas Eve.”
has chosen to make a substantial planned gift to support St. Mary Mercy
Livonia, and while he has not restricted his gift, he sees ongoing training for
physicians, nurses, clinicians and staff as very important – quality training
is something he feels passionate about and would be proud to support.
lost her battle with dementia in 2014. Frank
shared the touching story of her last moments.
Frank held Bessie’s hand and asked her to remember him. He asked, “who am I?” Bessie
responded, “I don’t know.” “Who am I?” Frank repeated.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“It’s me, Frank,” he encouraged. Bessie looked at him and responded, “Frank,”
and closed her eyes and died peacefully.
power of words and language has been so meaningful in Frank’s life. His
conviction learning English, a language he describes as
“beautiful.” Crafting words for
Ford presentations and often editing for his co-workers, “me, the imported
guy, editing English,” he says.
Even the time he presented to Fiat and Ford executives, translating
between Italian and English. And, the most meaningful, the last word Bessie
spoke, his name. Frank’s planned gift to
St. Mary Mercy was made in gratitude for the care he and Bessie received. “I have been so fortunate in my lifetime
and I want to give back,” explains Frank – proving the language of
kindness, of generosity, of love…is universal.
Sustaining excellence requires attracting and retaining the
best staff who continually strengthen their knowledge and expertise to provide
patients with the latest, most advanced and compassionate care.
Since this story was published, Frank Angileri has confirmed the beneficiary of his estate plans, allowing us to name the St. Mary Mercy Livonia Angileri Colleague Education and Professional Development Fund, in recognition of his vision and generosity.
To learn how you
can support Saint Joseph Mercy Health System through a legacy gift from your
estate, contact Katie Elliott, Director of Planned Giving, at 734-712-3919 or Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org.
LIVONIA – The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) presented one of three 2019 Ludwig Community Benefit Awards to Healthy Livonia, a community collaboration led by St. Mary Mercy Livonia that brings together community partners committed to making Livonia a healthier place by leveraging resources to create a greater impact. The award was presented at MHA’s annual membership meeting held today on Mackinaw Island.
The award is named in memory of Patrick E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in the community’s overall health, and was presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents. In addition to the award recognition, Healthy Livonia received $3,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.
Launched in July 2016, Healthy Livonia is backed by the hospital, the Livonia Parks and Recreation Department, Livonia Public Schools, the Livonia Chamber of Commerce and the city of Livonia.
With a special emphasis on infrastructure, parks, children, and seniors, key target areas for Healthy Livonia include reducing obesity, addressing behavioral health issues, and focusing on engaging Livonia residents to take command of their health by making healthy choices when it comes to food and exercise.
St. Mary Mercy has been a leading supporter of the Healthy Livonia initiative and has committed initial funding of $200,000 per year over five years.
Healthy Livonia’s accomplishments include launching an accessible play space at Rotary Park, installing a pedestrian bridge at Tatigian Park and Nature Preserve, implementing the Carrot Wellness walking program app, and sponsoring community activities such as a 5K walk/run, Kirksey Recreation Center memberships and a 100 Days to Health program.
For more information about Healthy Livonia, please call Healthy Livonia’s program coordinator at 734-655-8421.