Friends found far from home at The Doorways.

When Linda and Ed C. of Fayetteville, Arkansas, pull their truck up to The Doorways after 16 hours on the road, they unload the comforts of home: Fuzzy blankets? Check. Favorite pillows? Check. Boom box for playing Elvis songs? Check.

Ed’s been in and out of Richmond hospitals since 2006, dealing with chronic bile duct problems following a liver transplant. To him and his wife, The Doorways is a haven. “We know if we come here,” Linda says, “it isn’t adding to our anxiety. Staying at The Doorways takes so much headache out of what is already chaotic.”

Ed & Linda C. were among several guests featured in a recent TV spot for The Doorways.

They settle in with their favorite belongings and take what each day brings, often helped along by new friends they meet at The Doorways who calm them through doctor visits, surgeries and scares. The fifth floor is reserved for transplant patients and their families. After exchanging hellos in the hallways, they gravitate toward one another in the dining room. “We all sit down and get to know each other,” Linda says. “It’s almost like a support group.”

No need to explain much to these folks, either: They get it — the gravity of a new diagnosis, the stress of being away from loved ones, the late-night bedside vigils. “At home, you can explain what you’re going through,” Linda says, “but they say ‘don’t worry about it.’ You have niceties…” Not at The Doorways. “People here understand, because we’re all on the same wavelength.”

Conversations full of hope and reassurances leave guests like Linda and Ed feeling charged and encouraged. Hall mates become dinner buddies. Dinner buddies become friends. Friends become confidants, pen pals and, when needed most, lifelines.

It starts at The Doorways.

When Ed almost died from sepsis in June 2016, Linda lived at The Doorways for two months. Now, after a February 2017 bile duct surgery, Ed’s doing great, she reports.
Once more he has a safe, comfortable place to recover — with no responsibilities, hassles or demands.

Priceless peace of mind: That’s what The Doorways offers.

“To know that you’re totally taken care of… How immense this gift is!” Linda says. “It’s just an amazing place.”

Carla Davis is a writer and editor living in Richmond.