On Saturday, September 26, 2015 during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, three BAYADA Pediatrics clients were among the few who received the Pope’s blessings directly.

Michael Keating, who was born prematurely and adopted by two loving parents, is a 10-year-old client of the BAYADA Pediatrics Paoli office. Though he has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound, he left for the Philadelphia International Airport, along with his entire family, with rosaries in hand by 2:15 am because his father was leading the school band that greeted Pope Francis.

“In my heart, I was hoping Michael would come into contact with Pope Francis, but didn’t actually expect it,” says Michael’s BAYADA Clinical Manager Ginny Savarese, BSN, RN, CPN, CSLI. “When Pope Francis pulled away in his car and then came back to bless Michael, I was watching in my living room overjoyed,” she said.

Savarese leads the BAYADA Nurses who care for Michael at his home on a regular basis, changing his G-Tube and monitoring him for seizures. A client with BAYADA since November 2005, Michael is accompanied to school by one of his BAYADA Nurses each day. Although he is non-verbal, he laughs at jokes, smiles, and loves music.

“This couldn’t have happened to a sweeter, more worthy family,” said Savarese.

That same day, Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Before entering the church, the Pope again stopped to kiss and bless two more children, 10-year-old Christopher Garcia of the BAYADA Pediatrics Delaware office and 8-year-old Angel Zavaleta-Moyao of the BAYADA Pediatrics North Delaware office.

“Chris is a special kid,” said his Clinical Manager Tiffany Willis, RN. “Although he was almost asleep when the Pope kissed him, he smiles whenever you ask him about it.”

Christopher lives with quadriplegia and cerebral palsy, requiring use of a wheelchair and a BAYADA Nurse assisting him at school. His meeting with the Pope was arranged by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Here at BAYADA, we like to take care of the full person and are thrilled that the spiritual aspect of these children’s care included an experience with the Pope,” said Director Victoria Carter, RN, MSN. “These children are deserving and fortunate to receive compassion from all angles – from their parents, their nurses, and now directly from their spiritual leader.” 

Angel, a BAYADA Pediatrics client for a year, is living with chronic respiratory failure and is non-verbal with a tracheotomy and uses a ventilator to breathe. Everything he does is dependent on his BAYADA Nurses. His meeting with Pope Francis was also set up through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Angel getting the chance to meet Pope Francis touched me,” said his BAYADA Clinical Manager Denise Monzo-Jordan, BSN, RN, CPN. “His family is extremely religious so I know this meant a lot to them.”

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