Paitton Adle

Nov. 2, 2022
A photo of Paitton Adle
Paitton Adle

Surprising a lonely patient on her birthday

A patient’s birthday was approaching, and she was feeling lonesome at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital.

“She had no loved ones visiting at all. No close relatives. She was depressed,” float pool nurse Paitton Adle said. “She was complaining about our lovely cafeteria food. She said our strawberry shortcake was fake. She said, ‘All I want is strawberry shortcake.’”

Adle cared for the patient on four consecutive shifts. One day, caught in a construction detour on her way to work, Adle saw a grocery store and had an idea. She arrived at the hospital the night before the patient’s birthday with a strawberry shortcake, loaded with whipped cream, from the store.

For the cake’s glaze, Adle found a recipe on Pinterest with ingredients such as fresh strawberries, sugar and corn starch.

A photo of strawberry shortcake
Strawberry shortcake Paitton Adle made for a patient. Photo courtesy of Paitton Adle.

“I’m really allergic to strawberries, so I had to wear gloves,” Adle said, adding that she prepared the glaze and heated it in the unit’s microwave. She shared the glaze with colleagues for a taste “to make sure it was good.”

Adle, a night shift nurse, went home before she had a chance to present the birthday cake to the patient.

“She was sleeping,” she said. “I didn’t want to wake her up.”

Katie Olson, a float pool nurse on the day shift, completed the task.

“I came into the room with it, and her eyes just lit up. She said, ‘Is this for me?’” Olson said. “She just didn’t stop smiling as she had her first bite.”

She said the patient was thankful and surprised by the generosity.

When Adle returned for her next shift, the patient was no longer on the unit.

“The hardest part of nursing is not knowing the ending. I get to see the patient for that moment in time,” she said. “If I can make someone’s day, it’s totally worth it.”

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About the author

Robert Allen loves meeting new people and learning their stories, and he's continually inspired by the patients, staff and providers he meets at UCHealth.

A journalist for 12 years, he joined UCHealth after reporting and editing at the Detroit Free Press. He is the author of Fading Ads of Detroit, a book exploring connections between classic Detroit brands — from Carhartt to Mac-O-Lac Paints to the Detroit Tigers — found on ghost signs and the personal histories of Detroit residents. He previously reported for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Summit Daily News and Montrose Daily Press.

His outdoor adventures include scrambling summits, hunting powder stashes via snowboard and taking a three-week winter rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. The Oklahoma State University graduate lives in Fort Collins with his wife, Rachel, and their obstinate pug, Darla.