A 'Monster' friendship: MetroHealth volunteer and Prentiss Center resident bond over hockey
Dennis Kapral started volunteering in 1980 at MetroHealth's old nursing home on Franklin Avenue.
He’s been volunteering since the summer of 1980 when he was 27 years old. That makes him MetroHealth's longest-serving volunteer.
“I went to the Cuyahoga County Nursing Home on Franklin to tell my grandmother’s friend that she had died,” explains Dennis. While there, a woman mentioned the need for volunteers.
“I really enjoyed taking care of my grandmother and figured it would be a good fit,” he says.
The fit was better than most marriages, lasting 39 years and counting.
As residents have come and gone at the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Center for Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, Dennis is the one constant.
Another constant is Dennis' attendance at Cleveland Monsters hockey games.
He’s a season ticket holder and enjoyed the games with his mother and aunt. He made sure their seats were always high up in Section 30, to avoid the steps.
That’s where they would always see another fan. He attended every game. “He would just sit there by himself,” says Dennis. “Always in seat #1 Section 30.”
As fate would have it, in 2016, Dennis was walking through the halls of Prentiss and saw a man with a Monsters cap. Dennis said, “Oh, you’re a Monsters fan!”
Yes. It was Don. Yes. He had season tickets. And yes. He always sat in #1, Section 30. By himself.
Don would not be sitting alone anymore.
Dennis now spends his volunteer time playing cards and other games with Don at Prentiss. Last year, he treated him to a Monsters game.
This year, on February 12, Dennis took Don, who now uses a walker, to another Monsters' game.
And guess where they sat? Seats #1 and #2, Section 30.
“Don and I had a fantastic time,” said Dennis. “It was a great game, 5 – 2 win, great hot dogs and a very nice surprise.”
The surprise was a goodie bag from the Monsters with Joe Thomas bobbleheads and a meet and greet with the winning goalie, Jean-Francois Berube.
Berube even signed their bobbleheads.
What a night!
The MetroHealth System, Cuyahoga County’s public health system, is honoring its commitment to create a healthier community by building a new hospital on its main campus in Cleveland. The building, and the 25 acres of green space around it, are catalyzing the revitalization of MetroHealth’s West Side neighborhood.
MetroHealth will break ground on the new hospital in late 2018, using nearly $1 billion it borrowed on its own credit after dramatically improving its finances. In the past five years, MetroHealth’s operating revenue has increased by 44.5 percent and its number of employees by 21 percent. Today, its staff of 7,700 provides care at MetroHealth’s four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. In the past year, MetroHealth has served 300,000 patients at more than 1.4 million visits in its hospitals and health centers, 75 percent of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
The health system is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and the only adult and pediatric burn center in the state of Ohio.
As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to teaching and research. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and its main campus hospital houses a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school of science and health.
For more information, visit metrohealth.org.