Laurels of Toledo honors healthcare heroes with parades and ponies

Written by Healthy Living News. Posted in Our Community

Frontline healthcare workers are among the many heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, and these selfless people are more than worthy of our praise and gratitude. However, as we rightly honor these altruistic individuals, it’s important to remember that hospital doctors and nurses aren’t the only healthcare heroes on the frontlines of this pandemic. Also among them are the medical professionals who provide care for the population most vulnerable to this disease—the seniors residing in long-term-care facilities.

Witnessing firsthand the sacrifices and tireless efforts of the nursing staff at The Laurels of Toledo as they continually strive to care for and protect residents throughout this crisis, Kristy Wortketter, the facility’s marketing director, decided to do something special for them. “I felt very strongly that our nursing staff needed some positivity and recognition for their passion and commitment and the way they treat each and every guest like a member of their family,” she says.

Wortketter’s idea was to hold a Healthcare Heroes Parade in May, the month in which both National Nurses Week and Nursing Home Week are celebrated each year. For assistance in organizing the event, she reached out to Connextions Healthcare Networking Group, a network of long-term-care, skilled-nursing, assisted-living, independent-living, home-care, hospice, and other organizations that work together to help seniors in our community.

As a result of this collaboration, over 30 participants representing 30 different healthcare professions gathered in their vehicles in the Southland Shopping Plaza parking lot on Thursday, May 7 to begin the parade. Wortketter explains, “Our goal was to visit about 20 different nursing homes around our community and deliver cupcakes to the nursing staffs as a way of saying ‘thank you’ and acknowledging that we’re all in this together. The first stop on the route was The Laurels. Several nurses came out on the front lawn, and it was so amazing to see the joy on their faces. From there, we traveled down Byrne Road to Dorr, where we branched off into several smaller parades to visit other facilities in Toledo, Sylvania, Waterville, Monclova, Perrysburg, and Oregon.”

On the same day as the Healthcare Heroes Parade, The Laurels welcomed three other visitors to the facility—two horses and a pony. These four-legged, hoofed ambassadors, owned by Laurels staffers Robin Hacker and Rene Smith, did window visits with residents, who were absolutely enthralled by their presence. In fact, according to Wortketter, one resident—a former rider—was moved to tears and wished she could have the opportunity to pet one of the horses. “It was such a poignant moment, and I’m so gratified that we were able to bring some bright moments into the lives of our staff and guests during this ongoing crisis,” she states.

The Laurels of Toledo, located at 1011 N. Byrne Road, accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and all private commercial insurances. A physician’s order is required to obtain outpatient services. For more information, call 419-536-7600 or visit