American tourists have always had high praise for Galway and Ireland – but when Washington couple Anita and Robert LaGamma visited the county, it was the heart and stroke charity Croí that stood out for them the most.
In a letter to Croí, Robert LaGamma expressed the “profound appreciation” that he and his wife have for the organisation; “Let me summarise it by saying that the multi-faceted assistance provided by Croí proved to be literally a life saver.”
After a day of exploring the beauty of Connemara in September, Anita LaGamma fell ill. The local doctor arranged for the couple to be rushed to Galway University Hospital (GUH) where she was diagnosed as having had a mild stroke.
Anita was instructed not to fly for six weeks, leaving the couple stranded in Galway and unable to return home for more than a month.
“When we approached the time in which the hospital did all that it could I then realised we faced a dilemma. As a practical matter, where in the world could we stay for six weeks that offered the best opportunity for recovery? We knew no one in Galway,” Robert recalled.
“When I asked hospital personnel for advice it was suggested that I visit the Social Service office. There I met the remarkable Gerry Monahan, who after hearing our story, made some inquiries and suggested what turned out to be an ideal solution.”
Mr Monahan suggested that the couple spend their first two weeks in an apartment in the nearby heart and stroke centre, Croí – advice which the couple followed.
“Monahan also helped us obtain a cell phone that was to be critical in communicating with our children and other concerned family members,” Robert added.
Croí turned out to be the ideal solution for the couple. It was a roof over their heads and a comfortable place to prepare meals.
The apartment’s proximity to the hospital also proved useful and “it provided precisely the kind of place required for Anita’s recovery. Upon moving to an apartment there, much of the anxiety that came with Anita’s illness was lifted.”
The couple had great praise for the staff at Croí – particularly nurses Ann-Marie Walsh and Patricia Ryan who regularly monitored Anita’s blood pressure and provided advice and guidance, including access to Croí programmes and contacts with appropriate staff.
See their full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.