Hospital patient recognizes housekeeper who helped 'heal' him

Healing hearts with a song

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Carolina's Medical Center in Charlotte has invested millions of dollars to provide patients with the best medical care available. This story is about the other side of their care team that uses a different kind of medicine.

A few weeks ago we got an e-mail from Wes Freeman who lives in Hickory. Wes was in Charlotte at Carolinas Medical Center getting ready to be discharged after heart surgery, when a member of the hospital's environmental services staff came into his room to clean it.

"I told her we were getting ready to leave so you might want to wait a little while so you don't have to come clean again," Wes said.

The woman was Laverne Benton, who's been with the hospital for six years.

"She turned to leave," Wes said, "then she came back in and said, 'Can I sing you a song?'"

Wes obliged the woman, and what happened next was so powerful for him, it caused him to write an e-mail to a TV station so she could get some recognition.

"The way she sang to me, she just looked right at me and it really touched my heart," Wes said.

Ms. Laverne, as she's known on the 6th floor at CMC, sang 'Surely the Presence of the Lord' and the song did more than just put a smile on the patient's face.

"Right after my surgery I was feeling pretty bad and she just made me feel so much better with a song," Wes said.

Wes described himself as a "backsliding Baptist," and said recently his relationship with God hasn't been as strong as it should be. He says Laverne's simple song helped change that for him. The idea of that, makes Lavern smile from ear to ear.

"I could tell he wasn't feeling well and I thought it might help him," Laverne said.

Co-workers say Laverne is known for singing to patients as she cleans their rooms. Laverne said she initially thought she was in trouble when her boss called her into his office. He was calling her in to tell her of Wes's letter to WBTV.

"It really makes me so happy to know that he took out the time to let me know that I helped him," Laverne said.

Staff members at CMC are sometimes acknowledged with the occasional "WOW Card", filled out by patients who feel they've been given excellent care. While most cards go to members of the medical team, Lavern has a stack of hundreds she's received during her years with the hospital.

Most of those cards were earned with a song. All of them were deserved because of the beautiful light she brings to CMC.

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