An honest man: Dental assistant returns thousands of dollars to nursing home

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Imagine finding two bags with thousands of dollars in it. Then consider returning them to a nursing home, the rightful owner. That's what Barry Stringer did, and news of his good deed has stretched far and wide.  

Steven Yokley, administrator of NHC Healthcare, said the act reaffirmed his faith in other human beings.

“From my perspective, to know that in a world today when you only hear the negative things that occur, there's lots of positive people who do the right thing,” observed Yokley, who runs the 211-bed nursing home in Dickson, TN. (A total of 191 beds are skilled; the rest are assisted living.) He spoke to me this week from his facility, which is about 45 minutes from downtown Nashville. 

In case you have missed this “feel-good” story, about two weeks ago, Stringer, a dental assistant, found two green deposit bags of cash and checks on the ground outside Yokley's facility. He returned them the next day.

“I knew what I was going to do with them as soon as I found them, even before I opened them,” said Stringer, according to The Dickinson Herald newspaper.

After finding the bags, he took them to the bank. When he found the bank closed, he called the facility the next day and spoke to the bookkeeper.

“I asked her, ‘Did you lose something yesterday?” Stringer told the Herald. “She said, ‘Like what?' I said, ‘I don't know, you tell me.' She said, ‘Yes, I lost something yesterday.” I told her I found it and she was just hysterical about it.”

There's a good Samaritan for you.

So what, you may be asking, was all this money—$200 in cash and $71,800 in checks, according to Yokley—doing on the ground? The employee who was supposed to take it to the bank had left it on the top of her car and drove off, Yokley said. The facility noticed it missing within the first five minutes.


Yokley, speaking about the incident, did not seem fazed, despite the publicity it generated.

“It was an honest mistake,” he noted. 

Of course, it must not have been easy for the facility to go 20 hours without knowing where thousands of dollars from operations were. But because most of the money was checks, Yokley said he was not too worried. The facility was following policies to protect the deposit. The only real loss would have been $200, he explained.

But when Stringer returned the money, “we definitely showed our appreciation to him,” Yokley said. “He's a very humble gentleman.”

Stringer did not receive a financial reward, but he knew the facility was grateful, Yokley said.

Of course, the news, which has spread nationwide, also must also be a kind of reward in itself.

Stringer should bask in the media hype. Not everyone would have been so honest.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.