I have been an active member of this community for seven years. I suffer from very severe refractory epilepsy, which means that one, two, sometimes up to three grand mal seizures are a part of my daily life.
I live with the stigma of seizures and the need for a medical escort when I am out on the town; however, I’m an educated woman with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. My disability makes it almost impossible to hold down a regular job so I am actively providing community service which includes advocacy to individuals with disabilities, those on low income, and seniors. I’m qualified and knowledgeable in many areas; however, my disability prevents me from holding a 9-to-5 job.
We all have to do our shopping somewhere and I have shopped and taken seizures in almost every store and coffee/sandwich shop. I began to shop at Extra Foods, owned/operated by Don Festerling, seven years ago when we moved here. I have taken so many seizures in their store over the years, I couldn’t even begin to count. Store manager Steve Pike is aware of whom I am and the staff, such as cashier Lolita Rezansoff, continues to welcome me with warm greetings and smiles. During busy times of the year such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, assistant manager Carolyn Thiessen has “closed” off sections of their store because I have taken seizures. They have also had to close down open tills as I have taken a seizure while paying for groceries, and opened tills at each end of their checkouts to give me some privacy. Either of their first aid staff, Sarah Pritchard or Kathy Guild, is there immediately to deal with my needs or to call an ambulance if necessary. They stay by my side until the emergency crew arrives. They are familiar with what to expect and the protocol that must be followed.
If I do not leave in an ambulance they are more than happy to push me around in a wheelchair to complete my shopping. The staff will pack the groceries out to the car.
When I have left in the ambulance, the staff has set my groceries aside and removed all dairy and meat products from my cart. The products are placed into baskets in the cooler until I return.
I have dealt with the Extra Foods Pharmacy since we moved to the area. Pharmacy manager Ben Whinterburn is truly one of their great assets. He has filed my prescriptions for over seven years and because I can’t drive sometimes, I make it in when I can. I have called him and he has had my prescriptions ready and waiting to pick up. He has also dealt with doctors and faxed my paperwork in relation to my prescriptions when I have phoned in. The things I have asked of the pharmacy, they made a priority. I truly appreciate the pharmacy manager for his superior service.
Extra Foods has been a great store and has been completely accommodating to individuals with disabilities. They should be recognized for their community accessibility and exceptional customer service. For those staff I have left out—I am sorry; I do thank you.
Jennifer Waygood, B.S.W., Grand Forks