CNA from New York nursing home dies in Haiti earthquake

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The horror in Haiti has struck home for Port Chester Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre. Certified nursing assistant Marie Rosela Anacreon died during the earthquake. She had been visiting her mother in Port-au-Prince.

Her death has deeply touched the employees and residents of the 160-resident facility in Port Chester, NY, Administrator Carol Spedaliere said.

“The facility has very long-term employees,” she said. “It felt like one of the family was lost.”

Anacreon had just celebrated her 10th anniversary at the nursing home when she left on vacation. She worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift and was close to the residents.

“The residents on her assignment were just devastated,” Spedaliere said. “Everyone knew her. It was really a loss for them.”

As a way to honor her memory, employees established a compassion fund. Employees were asked to donate vacation days, sick days or personal days. They raised a total of $12,000 (the cash value of those days), which they donated in her name to the charity Doctors Without Borders. About 80% of the employees participated, Spedaliere said.

“It made everybody feel so much better,” she said. “I think that really helped bring closure to it.”

The staff didn't even know that Anacreon, 58, was in Haiti. She had told them that she would be going to Florida. She and her sister must have decided to visit Haiti at the last minute, Spedaliere said. Her sister had left Haiti earlier, but Anacreon didn't. Anacreon's mother, Laurette St. Martin, also died in the earthquake. The staff learned the sad news from Anacreon's sister.

The handful of other Haitian staff members at the facility had just received confirmation that their families were safe when they heard about Anacreon.

“Everyone kind of took a deep breath and then we found this out,” Spedaliere said.

A ‘generally wonderful person'

The facility lost a dedicated employee.

Anacreon was hardworking and “extremely responsible,” Spedaliere said. “She was at work every day.”

While Anacreon was upbeat, she was “serious enough to know she has to do her job and take care of her residents,” Spedaliere said.

A mother of three, she also was raising a grandchild.

“She was a mother and a grandmother and just generally a wonderful person,” Spedaliere said. 

The death of Anacreon is “a personal loss,” she added. Spedaliere says that when she walks the unit, “I'm conscious of her not being there.”

Residents and staff, who have been watching the ghastly story unfold on TV, feel closer to the events in Haiti.

As for herself, Spedaliere “will forever remember the people in Haiti, not just today, but I'll remember what they need for a long time.”

That is certain to be the case for all the people who knew Anacreon—and loved her.

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.