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 is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.
The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, two-thirds of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.
As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.
Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.
The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.
For more information, visit metrohealth.org.