Northfield Center -- Loretta Medve prides herself on getting through life on her own despite multiple sclerosis and having to use a walker, but when she needed it, help came because postal carrier Kim Base thought to check on her.
On March 18, Base called 911 after discovering while delivering mail to Medve's Privet Lane home that Medve had been lying on her living room floor for about 20 hours after falling the day before.
"She was a gem," said Medve.
Base said she had never before experienced something quite so dramatic.
"I've helped other people who have fallen out in the yard, but never anything like this," she said, adding that what she did for Medve is part of her job.
"This is supposed to be a public service," she said. "I didn't really do anything. I was just in the right place at the right time."
Medve said April 10 that she spent five days in UH Ahuja Medical Center, then 17 days undergoing rehabilitation at Manor of Grande Village in Twinsburg before returning home the day before.
"She's a lovely person," said Medve of Base. "I saw her today and I was hugging her and she was hugging me."
Medve said she is unclear what caused her fall, but said it happened around 2:30 p.m. and that she lay on the floor until around 10:30 a.m. the next day, the time when Base typically arrives. Medve said she wears a medical alert device around her neck, which transmits a signal when a button is pushed to bring help, but believes she was too disoriented to use it.
Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire Chief Frank Risko said it may have been because it twisted around behind Medve's head when she fell and she was not able to reach it.
Medve said that although she was unable to open her front door, at some point she thought of Base and was able to get to it, reach up and unlock it.
"I thought she might be coming," said Medve.
Base, a Macedonia resident, has been a postal carrier for 15 years, and has been on her current route, which includes the Town Hall, for the last five years. She said she has gotten to know many of the residents on the route well, including Medve.
"She's a wonderful woman, a wonderful woman," said Base, adding that neighbors are now keeping an eye on Medve.
Base said that on that morning, she noticed that Medve's newspaper was lying on the ground in front of her home. This was somewhat unusual because Medve normally gets her paper early, but Base was not overly concerned because sometimes Medve goes on trips. Still, she said, she decided to check.
"I knocked on the door and thought I heard some moaning and walked in and she was lying on the floor," said Base.
Medve said what she actually did was call out to Base. Base said that Medvedid not want Base to bother calling for help, just to help her up. But Base, knowing that doing so might injure Medve, called 911 instead.
Darlene Jones, postmaster at the Macedonia Post Office, said she is proud of what Base did.
"It's just fantastic," said Jones. "We just love to hear about our workers and the human side of what they do."
"This is the first time this has happened since I've been here and I've been here maybe three-and-a-half years," added Jones.
David Van Allen, regional spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service in Cleveland, said he did not have statistics, but "it does happen frequently."
"Letter carriers get attached to their customers and get used to their routines," he said. "It's a fairly typical thing."
For her actions, Township Trustees presented Base with a proclamation April 1 that "commends and thanks Kimberly Base for going above and beyond her regular duties to help a person in need."
"[Base] was very good about checking on her," Risko told the News Leader. "She has a good relationship with her customers."
Medve was diagnosed with a slow progressing form of MS when she was about 57 and said she is taking it easy for now. But she does have a life she wants to get back to and despite her condition, she is no invalid and does not like to depend on others.
"I'm independent," she said.
That life includes travel, regular attendance at St. Barnabas Church and membership in the Nordonia Hills AARP Chapter 5330, which meets nearby at the Northfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6768 on Olde Eight Road. Medve said she was planning on taking a casino trip through the chapter, but canceled while she recovers.
She also drives, swims three times weekly at the Macedonia Family Recreation Center and audits classes at Cuyahoga Community College, attending four classes last semester.
Base said she admires Medve and sees her as a role model for herself.
"She's amazing. She's such a go-getter," she said.
Base said she gets at least as much from people on her route like Medve as they get from her.
"I just love my job. My customers are so good to me ," she said.