Cleanup effort reunites nurse and patient in Lincoln

Cleanup effort reunites nurse and patient in Lincoln

Mike Speidel, left, of Lincoln, who was hospitalized for diverticulitis and released last week in time to take part in a community cleanup, with his nurse Stephanie Santos, also of Lincoln. Speidel made a promise to Santos that if she could get him out of Miriam Hospital in time, he’d join the cleanup, and they both upheld their parts of the promise. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

LINCOLN – Laid up in a hospital bed, Michael Speidel made a deal with his nurse: If you can get me out of the hospital on time, I’ll meet you at this weekend’s community cleanup event.

Speidel had been hospitalized for treatment of diverticulitis (intestinal inflammation) when he struck up a conversation with his nurse-on-duty, Stephanie Santos.

“I always talk to my patients and ask them where they’re from,” Santos said. She and Speidel learned that they’re both Lincoln residents, and Speidel mentioned he’d been looking for an opportunity to volunteer cleaning up the community.

“I said, I’m your girl,” Santos recalls. A member of the Lincoln Conservation Commission and founder of the Lincoln Community Cleanup Crew, Santos has spent the last several months planning a series of events to pick up litter across town.

“I asked him if he read The Breeze, and he had brought that week’s copy with him to the hospital. I pointed out the article about Saturday’s cleanup,” Santos said.

She told Speidel about the commission’s plans to clean up litter along Great Road/Breakneck Hill Road last Saturday.

“I offered a deal,” Speidel said. “If you make me well, I will come to the cleanup.”

Both parties kept up their end of the bargain.

“He showed up,” Santos said. “It was so cute to see. He kept his promise.”

Speidel said he wasn’t quite at 100 percent, but wanted to do what he could to support the cause and fulfill his promise. He cut out last week’s article announcing the cleanup, telling his family that Santos was his nurse.

“He’s so sweet,” Santos said. “I think I must have been in his hospital room for an hour, talking about all of these roads in town we want cleaned up. This really connected my nursing love and my environment love.”

Speidel, who was hospitalized last week, was released in time for Saturday’s event on Great Road. He was one of roughly two-dozen volunteers who helped clean up along the roadway.

“We had a good turnout,” Santos said. “Everyone driving by slowed down and could really see the mess there.”

She’s looking to expand the effort, raising awareness and gathering more volunteers.

This weekend, the commission is planning a more “family-friendly” cleanup along Walker Street. That cleanup is scheduled for 9 a.m. this Sunday, May 16. Volunteers interested in helping should meet at the fire station at the corner of Walker and Chapel streets.

Speidel said he plans to be there to support the cause.

The group of volunteers who turned out to work on the Great Road/Breakneck Hill Road cleanup last Saturday morning. Despite the gray skies, the rain stayed away while the volunteers picked up litter.
Mike Speidel, of Lincoln, who was released from the hospital last week, joined volunteers in cleaning up the Breakneck Hill Road/Great Road area last Saturday morning after making a promise to his nurse.