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Sunnyside is a bright light of care

Hidden away in Cloquet lies an absolute gem. My parents, Lyle and Alda Twite, spent their last years at Sunnyside Health Care Center. Many of my friends have struggled to find acceptable care for their aging parents, often moving them from facility to facility after being displeased with the care. I have had the opposite experience. I have seen nurses, nurse’s aides, and housekeepers come in and absolutely love my parents. They loved them like I did.

My dad passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we lost my mom in August. Every time I’d leave Cloquet after visiting my parents, I’d make the comment that I need to tell the world about the tremendous care they received at Sunnyside.

Sunnyside is an older, established facility with smaller rooms. Whatever it may lack in aesthetics, I can’t imagine another place that offers the loving care these people provided my parents. I’ve seen and heard how they care for their patients. They tell them how much they make them smile and how much they love them, and they show it in every interaction.

They do physical, hard work. They provide care many would have a hard time following through on, and they do it with the utmost respect, patience and gentleness. At a time in life when many feel they’ve lost their dignity, the staff at Sunnyside ensures that it does not happen. Between my dad and mom, I’ve stayed there for days at a time. Pleasing observers is not an act — this is how they roll. They love each patient as if they were their own parent. I never ceased to be amazed at the authenticity of their care.

My husband’s father resides in a high-end facility in another state. It’s a beautiful facility with white linen tablecloths and it’s elaborately decorated. When my husband visited my mom in Cloquet he always said, “I wish my dad had a place like this one.”

Outward appearances do not reveal the treasures hidden in this facility. The treasures are the people who work here. They are fun-loving, compassionate, and incredibly kind people. They meet each resident where they are. You can tell this is more than a job for them. They truly love each person.

I regularly heard, “Oh, I love you so much.” Hugs and kisses were frequent.

My mom loved her caretakers. Although she hadn’t been able to speak in more than two decades due to a stroke, I saw it in her eyes. A former nurse’s aide now working an office job regularly came back to stay with my mom. She was not getting paid to do so; she came because her love for my mom was real.

Sunnyside works in tandem with St. Croix Hospice, and I can’t speak highly enough about them. They work synergistically with the Sunnyside team to find the best solutions for their patients. I often came in to find them holding her hand and reading some of her favorite books aloud. Jake, a music therapist, absolutely made my mom’s day as he sang her hymns and other favorites. These individuals had a relationship with Mom that came from the investment of compassion and quality time.

The Cloquet community needs to know what an outstanding facility they have at Sunnyside. If you know someone who works there or for St. Croix Hospice, please treat them like the stars they are. Our family will be forever grateful for their selfless dedication and commitment to serving seniors.

Living so far from my parents these last years has been very difficult, but I never doubted they were surrounded by love. I have so many friends struggling to find quality care for their aging parents. I feel tremendously blessed that my parents received the absolute best care — loving, compassionate and respectful care. My parents loved the staff at Sunnyside. My entire family loves them.

Myrna is a 1984 Cloquet High School graduate who has lived in the Atlanta area for the past 34 years. She is a fourth-grade teacher.