Catalent San Diego Donation Lifts Spirits

July 7, 2017

Julio’s on His Way – Thanks to Catalent San Diego Donation

By: Sheryl Wilde

“I don’t know where I’m going

I’m on my way

I’m taking my time

But I don’t know where

See you, me and Julio

Down by the school yard

Me and Julio down by the school yard.”

~Paul Simon

It is a gift that we all pray we will never need, but for many of our residents, like Julio, the gift given by the Catalent Volunteer Group to Mountain Shadows is nothing less than a godsend.

Julio was a normal teenager who loved rap music and hanging out with his friends at school.  Then, when he was fifteen-years-old, Julio was in a horrific car accident that changed his life forever.  A semi-trailer truck slammed into the car in which he was riding, killing his mother, and leaving Julio near-death – with a traumatic brain injury, and unable to walk, talk, or eat on his own.

After many months of intensive care, Julio was released from the hospital.  He moved into Mountain Shadows Olive House in 2012.

“When Julio came to Olive House, he was an angry and frustrated young man,” says Flor Angel, Program Director, MSOS.  “He had basically given up and he refused to participate in life.  He wouldn’t even look at any of us.  He just held his eyes closed – squeezed tightly shut – and completely ignored everyone.  It was his way to escape.

“At first, the only thing Julio was able to do was squeeze our hand to indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  For everything else, we had to guess about what he was trying to tell us.”

Eventually, after lots of loving and supportive care at Mountain Shadows, things began to slowly change for the better for Julio.

 “Today, five years after his near fatal crash, Julio is able to eat, by mouth, on his own, rather than through a G-tube – so he can taste food again!  Today, Julio is able to use a communication book – a binder with pictures – which he points at with his left hand, to show us what he wants and needs.  If he wants pizza for lunch, if he wants us to turn him on his left side in bed, if he wants to sit in his favorite bean bag chair – he can point to a picture in the book so we’ll know what he wants and how to help him. Today, he is able to use his left hand to scroll through pictures and watch videos on his smart phone.  And he’s always watching MTV and playing rap music in his room.

“While it hasn’t been an easy road, today, Julio is a happier young man.  He’s more engaged in life.  He makes eye contact with us now.  He smiles now. He’s even been seen holding the hand of one of our female residents – and he had both eyes wide open when he did that!”

Julio has progressed far beyond what any of his doctors thought possible.  Caroline Bernados, Quality Assurance, QIDP/A, Palm & Orange, MSCH San Diego, attributes this progress to the Mountain Shadows staff.  “Julio has blossomed due to the love the staff has shown him.  We all genuinely care about him.  We love him.  Because of this, Julio trusts us.  He treats us as his own family.  He’s home here. He feels safe and secure now.

“While he’s made amazing progress, Julio – like many of our residents – still has very limited mobility.  He cannot move his legs or right arm.  He has only limited use of his left hand, so he still needs help with almost all of his daily living functions and activities.  Due to his physical limitations, he can’t get up out of bed by himself.  He can’t get from his wheelchair into his favorite bean bag chair by himself.  That’s why the Catalent Volunteer Group gift of these Hoyer Lifts is such a huge blessing!”

Says Fred Lindahl, Development Director, MSF, “We recently received this generous donation from the Catalent Volunteer Group (formerly the Pharmatek Foundation).  This money was specifically earmarked for three new Hoyer lifts, two for Olive and one for Palm, our ICF-DD-N homes.

“The Catalent (Pharmatek) Volunteer Group has been very giving to Mountain Shadows for the past three years.  They have come to MSCH-SD and hosted three holiday luncheons – the first was in Olive, the second in Apple, Maple, Plum, and the third in Birch, Crepe Myrtle.  In addition, they donated monies towards Hoyer Lifts three years ago.  They have also donated several other pieces of office equipment and have participated in the MSF Annual Fall Classic.  We are so grateful for their continuing generosity.”

Catalent is the leading global provider of advanced delivery technologies and development solutions for drugs, biologics, and consumer health products.  Catalent, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Inc. acquired Pharmatek Laboratories, Inc. a West Coast, US-based specialist in drug development and clinical manufacturing.

In 2012, Pharmatek established a not-for-profit organization supporting volunteerism for causes in the San Diego community.  The Pharmatek Foundation continues today as The Catalent Volunteer Group.

Neil Miser, Facilities Engineer at Catalent San Diego, has been on the Board of the Volunteer Group for the past three years.  He’s currently the Director of the Volunteer Group.  “We are so grateful to Mountain Shadows for everything they do.  They are like a family – one big family.  They really care about the residents.  They give them everything everyone else has.”

Neil attended the first Christmas dinner hosted by the Volunteer Group three years ago.  “We had a catered dinner at Olive House.  We ate with the residents and staff, did arts and crafts, and just hung out.  It was a new experience for me.  I spent a lot of time with one of the residents, Allen.  I helped him hold his dinner.  He couldn’t do it himself.  I really enjoyed the time we had together.  I still have a very strong memory of him.

“We catered Thanksgiving dinner the past two years.  It felt great to be with the residents.  I remember two years ago, word got around to the other houses that we were there.  Karen came from another house and drew pictures for everyone there.  The picture she drew for me was on double-sided canvas.  It has a whale in the middle and a blue seal to the left.  I still have the picture on my desk.

“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from being with the Mountain Shadows residents is that they are just like us.  We are all the same.”

“With the Hoyer Lift, we can easily get Julio out of bed every morning and into his wheelchair,” adds Caroline.  “With the Hoyer Lift, we can easily get Julio from his wheelchair into the shower every day.  Without the Hoyer Lift, Julio’s life would be very different, much more difficult, much more limited.

“The Lifts are a really big gift for the staff as well.  Five of our residents in Palm House need Hoyer Lifts.  We were able to have a scale added to the Lifts, which enables us to weigh the residents while they are on the Lifts.  Before this, we had to put the resident in a shower chair and roll them onto a ramp with a scale.  Some of the residents, due their body builds, couldn’t fit on the ramp, so we had to take them to Olive House in order to be weighed, since they had the only appropriate scales.

“This meant that every Friday, staff had to push each of those residents all the way up the hill to Olive to get weighed.  The staff never complained, but doing this was hard work.  So, these Hoyer Lifts are one of the best gifts possible to both the staff and residents.”

“Even with all our help, support and love, Julio’s life is not easy,” says Wade Wilde, Executive Director/CFO, MSSG.  “But, this generous donation of Hoyer Lifts from the Catalent Volunteer Group will help give him, and many other Mountain Shadows residents, the freedom to live a better, fuller life.  Our deepest thanks to the Catalent Volunteer Group for the loving kindness they have shown to us over these past three years.”

We don’t know where Julio’s future will take him.  But thanks to this donation of Hoyer Lifts from Catalent San Diego, he’s on his way – and it is our sincerest wish that one day, we’ll see him with his friends again, listening to rap music, down at the school yard.

I don’t know where I’m going

I’m on my way

I’m taking my time

But I don’t know where

See you, me and Julio

Down by the school yard

Me and Julio down by the school yard