A Quarterly Publication of Hospice Compassus
MEMORIES from the HEART
February 2009 Vol. 1 â€˘ No. 1
Celebrating Compassion Every Day
appy New Year and welcome to the inaugural edition of Everyday Compassion. This magazine was developed with one main purpose in mind; to capture the variety of ways that a hospice care team provides comfort and support to patients, families and their community everyday. Our hope is that by reading the stories found in this edition, you will have a better understanding of what it means to accept the hospice benefit. Our mission at Hospice Compassus is to offer our hands and hearts to patients with life-limiting illness and to those that love them.
We’d love to hear what you think about our company and our colleagues. Please contact us on our website at www.hospicecompassus.com
By providing comfort and relief we are here to help make the most of every moment. By providing compassion in unique ways we share in celebrating an individual’s life and the memories they have created. Sometimes the most important and growing experiences we have are during difficult times during our lives. A single act of compassion can bring out the best in these experiences and this is why “Everyday Compassion” is our gift to you. As we embark on bringing together hospice care teams that serve our local communities under one name, we recognize that hospice care is defined by each patient and each family we serve. At Hospice Compassus and all of our affiliates, we continually strive to reflect our company values of Compassion, Integrity and Excellence everyday. We hope you enjoy our team’s contributions from across the country that reflect this commitment to each community we serve. On behalf of our entire team, I want to thank you for letting us be part of your story today.
Jim Deal Chief Executive Officer
A Unique Valentine Story
Vol. 1 • No. 1 February 2009
Sisters without Misters PAGE 10
2 A Quarterly Publication of Hospice Compassus
MEMORIES from the
potpourri Tree of remembrance .....
Vignettes of everyday compassion ......
the shared experience Self-care for caregivers .....
care-team spotlight Medical profile: Clay Anderson, MD .....
End-of-life ministry brings out the best ..... 17 Six months as a hospice nurse .....
memories from the heart
harmony & joy
Yorik, the wonder dog .....
Letters of love .....
Everyday Compassion is published periodically by CLP Healthcare Services. Please address any comments or questions to: Editor, Everyday Compassion, CLP Healthcare Services, 12 Cadillac Drive, Suite 360, Brentwood, TN, 37027.
PUBLISHER: CLP Healthcare Services EDITOR: Matt Feller CONTRIBUTORS: Margaret Brauner, Mike Lamb, Janette Mayberry, Janean Miller, Melissa Powell, Diane Walk, Karla Washington, Dale Willis
Knots of love .....
A treasure lost and found .....
COVER ART: Jason Stover CREATIVE: Todd Staff, Tallgrass Studios Copyright © 2009 CLP Healthcare Services. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced in any manner without the prior written consent of CLP Healthcare Services.
52 offices in 15 states .....
Tree of Remembrance Brightens Holidays for Community Hospices Families By Melissa Powell
Community Hospices of America – Princeton, West Virginia
he holidays can be a difficult and distressing time for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. Oftentimes, being surrounded by others who have shared a similar experience can be beneficial to survivors. Recognizing the benefits of this type of camaraderie, Community Hospices of America and the Princeton Mercer County Chamber of Commerce hosted the first CHA Tree of Remembrance Service on the lawn of the historic Robert B. McNutt House in Princeton, West Virginia. As a tiny flame was passed from person to person around the small semi-circle gathering for the Tree of Remembrance Service, the warmth and power of the newly lit fire could be felt. While there wasn’t a physical fire in sight, the flame of hope was clearly evident in the eyes of those who united to grieve the loss of their loved ones and to find support from others going through a similar struggle. The tree, which remained lit on the lawn of the Robert B. McNutt House until January 5, 2009, served as a visual tribute to hospice patients and their families as well as others from the community who are gone but still remembered by their loved ones. The ceremony attended by CHA staff, families of former CHA patients, and grieving members of the community included a candlelight vigil, spiritual 2
Christmas hymns performed by CHA Volunteer Amy Alvis and CHA Support Services Coordinator Karen Grogan, and the lighting of the special tree. Throughout the event four doves sat on display in a cage near the tree, representing the peace that everyone was seeking. As Grogan sang a stirring rendition of ‘O Holy Night,’ sobs could be heard throughout the crowd while mourners watched Chamber of Commerce President Robert Farley ceremoniously light the tree. everyday COMPASSION
Nine years after the death of her mother, who was a former CHA patient, Lucretia Davis still feels light, hope and love in her heart. With tears openly flowing down her face, she explained what she took from the ceremony. “To me, it was wonderful to take time out of our day to remember our loved ones.” For sisters Teressa Conely and Susan Harmon, the stinging pain of grief that brought them to the service stemmed from a more recent loss. Their mother, CHA patient Martha Duncan, died in July. “This was her favorite time of year, so it’s been really difficult for us,” said Harmon. “We thought this event would help us get through the first holiday without our mom. It was a beautiful service, and the message has helped us so much.” “Our mom always loved doves,” added Conely. “We released one at her funeral. Community Hospices has been so good to us. Anytime we needed them, they were there.” In the light of the brightly lit tree and in the eyes of the courageous souls in attendance, the flame of hope shone brightly that Monday evening, reflecting the promise of a light that flickered throughout the Holiday Season and beyond.
Vignettes of Everyday Compassion From All Corners
“ They say it takes a
I Wish You Enough A story of anonymous authorship
ecently I overheard a mother & daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, “I love you, and I wish you enough.” The daughter replied, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.” They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in. “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?” she asked me. “Yes, I have,” I replied. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” “I am old,” she answered, “and she lives so far away. I have serious challenges ahead, and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral.” “When you were saying good-bye,” I said, “I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?” She smiled. “That’s a wish that has been handed down over the generations in my family. My parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. “When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.” Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory: “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.
“I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more. “I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting. “I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger. “I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. “I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. “I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.” She then began to cry and walked away. They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them. Submitted by Corrie Cusimano, Hospice Care Consultant Samaritan Care Hospice, Dallas, Texas (continued on page 4)
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Making the Unbearable, Bearable A personal hospice experience
y grandparents, Bob and Ruth Roosevelt, both passed away years ago, within nine months of each other. Words cannot begin to describe the way I felt. My grandparents were amazing. They raised me, and everything that was wonderful and good in my life came from them. Grandpa was the first to go on hospice, then Grandma. The people we dealt with at hospice showed so much love and compassion. They cried when we cried, and every single person went above and beyond the call of duty. When Grandma died all of the workers lined up to show respect and honor to her. Some of them even came to the funeral. She had touched so many lives while she was there. In my book, all hospice workers are angels. Things have gotten a lot better since that terrible year. It still hurts, but it has gotten better. I now work for Samaritan Care Hospice in Southfield, MI, and I love it. Hospice is wonderful. It makes the unbearable situations bearable once again. By Aprill Marie Moden, hospice care worker Samaritan Care Hospice, Southfield, Michigan
Angels of the White Mountains A letter sent to the editor of a local newspaper
ngels of the White Mountains – I am talking about the nurses, doctors and staff that make up the hospice family. Recently I contacted RTA Hospice for help to care for my daddy. They treated my daddy with respect and kindness and saw to his every need. When the time came to move my daddy to the hospice on Porter Mountain Road, we were greeted by the staff and nurses with open arms. We spent six days there. My daddy letting go and I holding on. Without the understanding and guidance from these nurses and doctors I would have fallen apart. They not only treated the patient, they treat the family. They took care of his every
need and made sure he was comfortable. They explained what was happening step by step. They help you find a strength you never realized you had. Because of their kindness, my family was able to gather there and find our own way to say good-bye. So from the Coplan family I would like to express my deepest thanks to the hospice family. Chaplain Kevin, your visits meant more to my father than you will ever know. God bless you to the doctors, nurses and staff. Your kindness and understanding will never be forgotten. Thank you for your guidance and strength that helped my family. I cannot thank you enough for what you did for my daddy. I would like to thank the Good Lord who holds a special place for all of you. How you do what you do everyday, the kindness you show, is truly a gift. Emi Coplan, daughter of a patient at RTA Hospice and Palliative Care in Lakeside, Arizona
A Place Called ‘Hope’ An inspirational personal encounter
t was just a normal day, nothing out of the ordinary... just doing my job. I entered the nursing home to visit a few minutes with each patient that was on our hospice care. I passed the bird cage and the little lady that always sat next to the birds was smiling. I gave her a friendly wave but kept on walking down the hall to see my patient. I recently had met with the daughter of this patient who let me know that her mom no longer spoke or could see. Boy... was I in for a surprise. I knocked gently on a door, waited for a response, heard nothing but still entered the room. She was sitting up in bed and spoke to me in an audible voice. “I went this weekend to a place called Hope.” She explained to me that she had gathered up her things in a black garbage bag, everything that was special to her, even the clock, and put it on her lap in her wheelchair. She then proceeded with her belongings to the local bus stop and got on a Greyhound to that place called Hope. When she got there a kind family met her and welcomed her into their home. It was nothing fancy, but it was more than enough (continued on next page)
for her. She went on to speak of the love, the joy and the delightful time she had in this place called Hope. As she came to the end of her story she lifted her hand and pointed right at me she said ‘Always go with God, Go with God!’ That day in her room was more than I had expected. I was touched that her voice from within had come to share a message with me. That no matter where I am in life there is always hope and to go with God! Isn’t that what we all are looking for? A place where we are accepted. Where we are wanted and belong... for who we are, nothing more, nothing less? All this from a woman who hadn’t said a peep in a very long time. What a gift, what a moment. There is always hope. By a hospice worker at Samaritan Care Hospice, Dallas, Texas
The Comfort of Hospice Care A story of thankfulness
am writing this at the end of a very long Saturday on which I am still in my robe and pajamas, and it’s almost dinner time! Since this morning I have been writing thank-you letters, instead of notes, to friends who extended condolences on the death of my mother. My fingers don’t hold up for very long when I write longhand, but somehow I don’t seem capable of writing a brief note when I use a keyboard. So I’ve written four very long letters thus far, and I am weary. Before quitting for the day, however, I really want to express my gratitude to the Samaritan caregivers who, on two occasions, attended my mother, Mrs. Alvania Respass, at the Brighten at Bryn Mawr facility. I never did get to meet every person who cared for Mother, but through Sue Jensen, in particular, I felt totally assured that Mother was in good hands. Mother was in bad straits on both occasions that she received hospice care, feisty and difficult in the first instance, and just terribly ill in the second. Nonetheless, at the few times that Sue Jensen and I were together, it was comforting for me to see Mother respond to Sue’s caressing of her forehead and hands. Sue also spoke to Mother constantly – something I found difficult to do most times out of sheer helplessness – and her voice served to let Mother know that she was not alone.
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My sisters and I are extremely grateful to each and every Samaritan staffer who cared for Mother. We know it was not easy, because Mother was unable to communicate her needs, and she was in constant distress. I was able to calm my sisters, who live in other cities, by conveying how pleased and actually blessed I felt to have the added assistance of hospice to tend to Mother. In her first hospice phase, Mother eventually gained weight and looked so much better. She did not fare very well after hospice ended, and began to go downhill again. By the time she needed hospice the second time, Mother had deteriorated substantially, and there was no upgrade to be had in her condition. I met Laura this time, and she was terrific, too. I would say that the most wonderful part of having hospice care was that I could relax on the days that I wasn’t at Mother’s side. I absolutely did not worry that she would be ignored or neglected. What a relief for me! I could take care of important personal matters without the anxiety of feeling that I should also be at the nursing home at the same time. I knew that I would hear from Samaritan if there was a need, but I also heard from Sue when things were just fine, and she simply wanted to comment on her visit with Mother. I frequently received calls from Sue and others at Samaritan inquiring as to how I was feeling and coping. I hadn’t expected that touch, and it gave me a sense of “total care” for my family. Since Mother’s death I have heard from Samaritan twice. I was surprised, but I am a slow learner. The calls were so in line with Samaritan’s service since our introduction. I was told that family members and I were welcome to talk with a counselor as we adjust to Mother’s passing. Isn’t that wonderful? I certainly think so. Thus far, my sisters and I are coping slowly and differently, but I would say that we are okay. Two of us were so deeply involved with Mother over the past twelve years of her decline, and it’s mostly a matter of becoming accustomed to letting go of constant worry. I am enclosing a summation of Mother’s life, and a Mother’s Day card that I composed for her in 1975. I read them both at her service. She loved that card, and carried it for years. Shared by Theresa Sylvester, grateful daughter of a hospice patient at Samaritan Care Hospice, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
the shared experience
Self-care for Caregivers Ten pieces of advice from the hospice front line By Karla Washington
Community Hospices of America – Columbia, Missouri
aring for someone who is receiving hospice services can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of a person’s life. Perhaps no one knows that better than the women and men who have personally experienced what it is to be a hospice caregiver.
Former hospice caregivers freely provide the following priceless recommendations to those currently caring for a hospice patient:
1. Ask questions. The most common piece of advice provided by caregivers interviewed for this article was, “Ask questions of the hospice team.” “It’s important for you to know as much as you want to know about what’s going on with your loved one,” explained the daughter of a hospice patient. “No one knows exactly what is going to happen when, but the hospice staff can give you a realistic idea of what to expect. That way, you can be a little better prepared.” No one expects caregivers to have all the answers or to be able to handle every situation without help. The wife of a hospice patient explained how she felt
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relieved to have 24-hour support from hospice nurses. “That was the best part, for me. I never had to guess if what I was doing was right. I could just call the nurse. There was always someone available to answer my questions.” One caregiver who had been in the medical field for her entire career discussed how she asked questions all the time. “Even though I worked in a hospital
all my life and I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing, it was reassuring to be able to talk to the hospice people and know that I was doing the right things.”
2. Remember that hospice services are for caregivers too. Hospice services are specially designed to meet the needs of the patients and their families and friends. So, remember that hospice services are for caregivers, too. (continued on page 8)
the shared experience
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“On top of everything else, my family was being more hurtful than helpful,” discussed the daughter of a hospice patient. “No one was in agreement about what to do for Dad, and we were all divided rather than coming together to help. The hospice social worker arranged for us to sit down with Dad and the whole hospice team for a family meeting to set up a plan to deal with everything.” The husband of a hospice patient found help from the hospice chaplain in dealing with his wife’s illness. “As she got sicker, my wife’s faith grew stronger than ever, but I was the opposite. The hospice chaplain listened to my concerns and prayed with me when I needed it most.”
3. Take time to adjust While some families are used to having people in and out of their homes on a regular basis, others may be unaccustomed to routinely welcoming visitors. Meeting new nurses, social workers, home health aides, chaplains, and volunteers can be overwhelming, especially in the first weeks of receiving hospice care. Additionally, hospice professionals may order new equipment and supplies to help provide care for the hospice patient. This can mean quite a few changes in a short period of time. It is important to give yourself time to adjust. One caregiver noted that she became more comfortable as time passed. “It’s easier after a couple of weeks when you get to know the people and start to trust them,” she said. “I think that helps.”
4. Accept help. When friends and family members learn that you are caring for someone receiving hospice services, they may offer to help in some way. Some people are more comfortable accepting help than others, but most caregivers offered the following advice: “If someone offers their help, accept it graciously.” The wife of a hospice patient discussed how she overcame her reluctance to accept help. “All of a sudden it dawned on me that I wasn’t the only person who was hurting and that it helped other people to know that they could do something useful for me and my husband.” Although she preferred to continue to be the primary care provider, she eventually accepted offers from friends who ran errands, picked up groceries, and even helped with laundry.
5. Ask for help. Some caregivers feel overwhelmed with offers of assistance, while others feel like they are all alone in caring for the hospice patient. One daughter of a hospice patient recalled how her family members were reluctant to offer help, but were glad to help when asked. “At first I just waited, hoping that someone would offer to do something to help out, but the offers never came. So, finally I just started asking people to do specific things. Turns out, they were happy to help, they just didn’t know what to do before I told them.” Other caregivers received numerous vague offers to help. For example, friends
f someone offers their help, accept it
graciously... All of a sudden it dawned on me that I wasn’t the only person who was hurting and that it helped other people to know that they could do something useful for me and my husband.” said things such as, “Let me know if there is anything that I can do.” The wife of a hospice patient learned to respond to such offers in a productive manner “Whenever I would think of something that someone could help with, I wrote it down on a list. Then, if someone wanted to know how they could help, I told them that they could just choose something from the list.”
6. Use the hospice volunteers. Non-medical volunteers are important members of the hospice team, and caregivers who had used their services reported that they had been quite helpful. Volunteers helped caregivers in a variety of ways, including socializing with hospice patients, helping with non-medical tasks around the house, or sitting with patients while caregivers ran errands or took much needed breaks.
“I wasn’t sure how my husband would react to a volunteer, and it was kind of awkward initially,” the wife of a patient explained. “But soon it was obvious that he looked forward to the volunteer’s visits. They played cards, watched sports, listened to music…. I loved my husband, and I wanted to be there for him, but I came to realize that we were driving each other crazy being around each other 24 hours a day. The volunteer’s visits were an important break for both of us.” Other caregivers used volunteers on an “as needed” basis. The husband of a hospice patient discussed how he used volunteers. “We needed quite a bit of furniture moved to make way for my wife’s hospital bed. We had tons of friends and family around, but we were all older, and I didn’t think any of us had any business trying to move all that furniture.” He made advance arrangements with the hospice Volunteer Coordinator and a group of volunteers were able to help.
7. Take care of yourself. While you are busy taking care of others in your life, it is important to take care of yourself as well. One caregiver talked about how she regretted not taking care of herself when she was caring for her mother. “I stopped doing everything that I used to do for fun. I was tired, grouchy, and impatient with Mom. Looking back, I wish that I had taken better care of myself. I might have had more energy and patience.” Taking care of yourself is often easier
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said than done, especially when someone is as busy as caregivers tend to be. Caregivers discussed benefitting from small breaks, such as taking a long bath, phoning a friend, or working in the garden. A number of caregivers who preferred to stick close to home used two-way home monitors to make sure that they could hear their loved one if he or she needed help.
8. Get enough sleep. Many of the caregivers interviewed for this article talked about not getting sufficient sleep. They recommended the following: If you’re not able to sleep well at night, arrange for someone to come over during the day so that you can take a nap. If you’re up several times at night giving medications or caring for your loved one, talk to your hospice nurse. If you’re not sleeping well, chances are your loved one isn’t either. It’s possible that changes need to be made to the care plan.
9. Set healthy limits. You may find that staying involved in activities is helpful or serves as a break from caregiving responsibilities; however, you may also find that you need to take a leave of absence from certain tasks or say no to certain things. “I felt really guilty when I asked to be replaced as the Sunday School instructor for the Senior Group at church, but it turned out to be the best decision that I could have made,” said one caregiver. “Our pastor arranged for a couple to take
over while I was caring for my husband, and they were able to give our group the attention and energy it needed.”
10. Experience joy. Just because you’re caring for someone who is dying doesn’t mean that it is impossible or inappropriate to experience happiness. Rent a comedy, enjoy time with family and friends who visit, laugh, call a friend, remember special times with your loved one. Smile. The wife of a hospice patient talked about enjoying her time as a caregiver. “When my husband was on hospice, we had visits from family we hadn’t seen in forever. Even some of his old co-workers from years back came to see him. Sometimes it was sad, but a lot of the time we had a blast reliving old times and teasing each other.” For more information and tips on caregiving, visit the Family Caregivers Alliance at www.caregiver.org or 1-800445-8106 or the National Family Caregivers Association at www.nfcacares. org or 1-800-896-3650.
Karla Washington is an LCSW, a Community Hospices of America volunteer, and a doctoral student at University of Missouri. Her dissertation explores the experiences of family caregivers of home hospice patients. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sisters without Seven ladies tell of needing the comfort and understanding of other women experiencing the same grief.
A Unique Valentine Story By Margaret Brauner
Hospice Care of LA/MS – Slidell, Louisiana
even women who recently lost their husbands from terminal illnesses met through a Bereavement Support Grief Group facilitated by Carol Lawson, B.S., Bereavement Coordinator/Counselor of Hospice Care of Louisiana and Mississippi in Slidell, LA. Each of the seven women’s husbands were individual patients of Hospice Care of LA/MS and were cared for by the hospice team of professionals before their deaths. Hospice Care of Louisiana and Mississippi offers thirteen months of bereavement care to families of Hospice patients following the death of a loved one. It had long been the hope of Ms. Lawson to initiate a Grief Support Group for women that would continue following the completion of the regular sevenweek group. She faithfully remained in contact with the wives of these patients, patiently offering counseling and guidance as they met at the home of Mrs. Josephine Gambino in Slidell, LA for the initial seven week group meetings.
Some survivors find it hard to begin the grieving process immediately because they feel for one reason or another that they cannot cope with this tremendous loss. Carol Lawson understands this very well because she has dedicated her life to her profession of helping people deal with the loss of a loved one. Realizing that these ladies needed the comfort and understanding of other women who were experiencing the same grief, Ms. Lawson prepared to begin the new group that would continue after the initial seven-week group. Recognizing their individual needs, Carol continued to stay in touch with each woman urging her to become a member of the new group. Some had inquired about attending if a new group began, while others said they were just not ready. They also were not comfortable with the word “widow.” It sounded like cruel name-calling and made them feel that they were being associated with something crude and final. They felt more like “survivors.” Carol Wester said she thought the word “bereavement” meant “taboo.” She wanted to shy away from
anything that had anything to do with grieving. Mrs. Wester’s husband, Albert (Jack), passed away from Olivo Ponto Cerebeller Atrophy (OPCA), a rare degenerative disorder of the brain for which there is no cure. It had been a long and hard journey through an illness they had never even heard of before. She didn’t know if she could handle a” Grief Group” or not. A good friend wanted her to do something, attend a support group or get help of some kind. She really didn’t know what to do, so for the moment she did nothing. Still, Carol Lawson maintained contact with the seven ladies, and finally, magically, they decided to give it a try. She knew that she had her work cut out for her. On March 13, 2008 seven very apprehensive women met at the home of Mrs. Josephine Gambino in Slidell, Louisiana to begin participation in their first meeting of a continuing support group. They began slowly to compare experiences, to cry and to share similar thoughts and fears. They each brought a dish, enjoyed lunch, and continued to
Char ter M embe Sbisa rs Sta , Caro ndin Rosa l W e ster, a g l to r: Vir lyn Le gis Bo n gaux, udrea Josep d Carolyn Weav ux, W hine G er. Se alda ambin ated l o, and to r: Bonn ie Pa pania . share, cry and
talk into the afternoon. They discussed a name for the little group. Several names were suggested, but when Carol Wester came up with the name “Sisters Without Misters” it stuck. The jitters were gone. The nerves settled and they felt as if they had known each other forever. They now meet each Thursday of the week and there is a feeling that nobody can describe and in their own words “a bonding that nothing can now break.” After attending the meetings they each describe an incredible change through the bonding of the seven women. As they sat around the room talking, their eyes met with each other, and they speak of an immediate sensitivity that can only be described as a sisterhood in the making, an unspoken pact among seven who knew they had found a way to give new meaning to life. In the sharing of experiences, they express the loneliness bordering on depression, as being starved for talking and connecting with other others who were making the same journey.
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As a group, they have learned that it is possible to discuss the illnesses from which their husbands suffered, some of the diagnoses of which they had never heard – Mesothelioma, Pancreatic Cancer, Lung Cancer, Olivar Pontal Cerebellum Atrophy (OPCA), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD and PostPolio Syndrome/Multi-Organ Failure – diseases that took the lives of their mates.
Carolyn Weaver’s husband, Barry, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Mesolithelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer which attacks the sac or lining covering the body’s internal organs. Carolyn stated that when they heard the diagnosis, she sat in disbelief. When they were told that he had only six to twelve months to live, the shock was too much to handle. “In that moment our lives changed forever, but we were blessed to have Hospice. Not only does hospice care for the needs of families, but they give ‘quality of life’ to the patient. I urge anyone not to be afraid to reach out to hospice for help.”
Bonnie Papania’s husband, Donald, passed away from Pancreatic Cancer three months after being diagnosed. Bonnie describes the moment they were told feeling as though she had been hit by a brick wall. She heard the “C” word — cancer — a word she wanted never to hear, and the prognosis was not good. Bonnie states that the shock is unbelievable, and when
reality sets in you just ask God for help because the gap that is left in your life is enormous. Bonnie didn’t think she could face the future without Don, and it took some doing to attend a Bereavement Group meeting, but she went. She is now a member of “Sisters Without Misters” and says it is the best thing she has done for herself since the death of her husband. Bonnie categorically says, “I love those women. With families comes baggage, but with this group of women, they don’t care about who or what you are – they only care about your loss. It is a great source of comfort to know that if I need anything they will be there for me. I adore this group.” She also cannot say enough about what hospice meant to them during Don’s illness. “The nurse was magnificent and so respectful of me and my girls at the time of my husband’s death. There is no intrusion in your life by hospice staff. They make it a very spiritual experience for which we will forever be grateful.”
Rosalyn Legaux tried to be brave when the Doctor told them that her husband, Charles, had Pancreatic Cancer. She says that she was numb and so shocked that she couldn’t cry. All she could think of was, “This is not true and it cannot be happening to us.” She had to hold her feelings inside. Her husband was only 49 years of age and this was too much for anyone to ask them to accept. everyday COMPASSION
Virgis Boudreaux, a Registered Nurse, knew because of her nursing experience exactly what they were facing when her husband, Kirby, was diagnosed with PostPolio Syndrome (PPS). Kirby Boudreaux had polio as a child, and Virgis knew all too well that this condition sometimes affects polio survivors years after having the Poliomyelitis Virus. She also knew that it causes severe debilitation with multiple organ failure from which her husband suffered. She retired from her profession as an R.N. to care for him until his death. Even with her vast experience as a nurse, she wasn’t ready to accept the consequences.
Josephine Gambino, “Phyne” as she is known to her friends wants other women to know that even though your heart aches you do not need to grieve alone. “Most importantly”, she says, when hospice came into our lives, we knew that it was not necessary to grieve alone.” When Phyne’s husband, Warren, was told by his physician that he had Lung Cancer, she said, “My heart fell when I heard those words, and I asked myself if I feel this way, how must it feel to him?” She bluntly stated, “It is what it is and you are forced to deal with it in one way or another.”
Walda Sbisa’s husband, Harvey, passed away near Thanksgiving from complications of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). With the approaching holidays she misses him even more. Her reaction to the fact that her husband only had a short while to live made her feel as though she had been hit with a cannon ball that went completely through her body. Before that time she and her husband were both very actively involved with life. They belonged to a dance group and were living a very full life. After his death, her life completely changed. The grieving was hard so she confided in a friend and they discussed a possible grief group. She could only visualize a group of women sitting around crying all the time, but decided to investigate. Ironically, at that time a letter arrived from Carol Lawson of Hospice Care of Louisiana and Mississippi inviting her to attend a Hospice Bereavement Group. She decided to attend and afterward there was no turning back. Walda also says that during her husband’s illness they couldn’t have made it without the care and intervention from the staff of Hospice Care of Louisiana/Mississippi. “I thank God for hospice and the staff who took care of my husband. I don’t know what people would do without hospice.” When asked what they would like the public to know and what advice they would give to other women about this
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group, they quickly say that time helps and the grieving process becomes much easier. Through each other they have gathered strength and have found that they are much more resilient than they thought. They quickly advise that it is easy to slide backwards at times during the grieving process, but the tie that binds these women together is stronger than the need to go backward. After sharing her experience with her new Sisters, Carolyn Weaver now wants others to know that there is life after the death of a spouse. She states that the journey isn’t easy and life will never be the same, but with the help of her Sisters, it is a great comfort to be able to draw strength through faith and friendship.
Carol Wester describes their “Sisters” get-togethers as being now down to a “three Kleenex” meeting. In the beginning, she says, it took a whole box. They have indeed progressed, and now her advice to other women who have lost a mate is, “Don’t shy away from sharing your feelings with other women who understand and who have been or are going through a similar experience.” Once you meet these seven women you know there is no sliding back anymore. They are going forward with a strength that can be shared only with each other. They have made a pact to support each other with whatever it takes, to be there for each other when some days are worse than others, and especially when the responsibilities seem almost impossible to bear. Carolyn Weaver says she has told everyday COMPASSION
her children, neighbors, and friends that nothing preempts her weekly Thursday meetings with her new Sisters. “Whatever it is will have to wait until after my Thursday meeting,” she says with a smile. And the ladies have ventured out even further. They now schedule outings that include trips to museums, casinos, and recently they made a trip to Mobile, Alabama to the dog races. The seven sisters all say that without hospice they couldn’t have made the journey. They feel that hospice is sometimes misunderstood and advise that if anyone in your family is faced with a terminal illness you should ask questions of your physician. To find out more about hospice, call on your own. They are listed in the phone book. Someone will answer your questions or send staff out to talk with you if you make the request. Finally, what about that magical number seven that makes up the “Sisters Without Misters”? Psychologist George A. Miller must have realized that he was onto something when he wrote about the number seven in an article long ago in Psychological Review. There are Seven Wonders of the World, Seven Seas, Seven Daughters of Atlas, Seven Ages of Man, Seven Primary Colors, Seven Notes of the Musical Scale, and Seven Days of the Week to name a few. According to Miller, “There must be something deep and profound behind all these sevens, something calling for us to discover it.” Whatever the reason for the magical number seven, in this instance it represents a reawakening of life and discovery for seven lovely women who share a unique camaraderie in a group called Sisters without Misters. Through the caring and sharing of their sisters in a hospice grief group, and the persistence to attend by a Hospice Bereavement Counselor, they have found each other at a time in their lives when blending and bonding is so important. Their message to others is Friends Today – Sisters by Choice.
Clay Anderson, MD Medical Director Community Hospices of America Columbia, Missouri
Clay Anderson, M.D. A Physican’s Care Goes Above and Beyond By Dale Willis
Community Hospices of America – Columbia, Missouri
As I answered the phone at our hospice office, I immediately recognized the voice on the other end of the line as belonging to the devoted wife of a patient we had served for several months. He had died only a week before, after a long bout with cancer. With a cheerful voice and unabashed pride she announced to me that she had a ‘date’ scheduled for Thursday. “With a man,” she emphasized, and then paused to wait for my reaction. Sensing my puzzlement and awkwardness, she broke the silence by laughing and exclaiming “It’s with Dr. Anderson!” She went on to say how she had received a personal, hand-written note of sympathy from him, in which he invited her to call him anytime. “So I took him up on his offer! We are meeting for coffee, so I can thank him for all he did…” No longer curious, nor surprised, I listened to this widow recount the many ways in which Dr. Anderson’s tender, supportive care had made such a positive difference in the final months of her husband’s life. Clay Anderson, M.D. is an Associate Professor
of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Missouri Palliative Care Program at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is an oncology specialist, and also serves as a Medical Director for Community Hospices of America (CHA). He has earned a reputation as an exceptionally skilled and compassionate caregiver, especially for those nearing the end of their lives. Along the way, he has touched the lives of many grateful individuals like the woman mentioned above. Kim Needy, a hospice nurse with CHA, is one of those individuals. “There are intelligent and knowledgeable doctors, but Dr. A is a cut above the rest,” she says. “I appreciate his openness to our ideas. He is always empathic with the patients and their families, and he shows his appreciation of us on-call nurses. I love working with him!” Kim recalls one story in particular that exemplifies the care that Dr. Anderson gives: (continued on page 16)
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“Our hospice team served a young single mother who was a paraplegic; she was experiencing extreme pain. This woman’s local physician did not feel comfortable prescribing the amount of medication needed to alleviate her pain, so Dr. Anderson agreed to serve as her primary doctor. He worked very hard to minimize her pain and make her comfortable, and he even drove 30 miles to make a house call, to see her and assist with her care. I was on call when she died, and Dr. Anderson was wonderful. He helped her die with the dignity she deserved.” Dr. Anderson is a huge patient advocate. He frequently reminds team members of his ‘three rules for hospice patients.’ They are: 1) Have it your way; 2) Have fun; and 3) Be safe. His desire to empower patients to make their own healthcare decisions and to enjoy maximal quality of life permeates much of what he says and does. He fights for the rights of patients to eat only the foods they like (ice cream, anybody?); to take only the medications necessary for them to feel comfortable; to avoid being poked and prodded with needles and tubes; to live in the comfort of their own homes, with the people they love; and to enjoy to the fullest extent possible however many days, weeks or months they have left to live. As an example, some years ago Dr. Anderson was caring for a young man who was dying from cancer. When this man expressed a desire to go fishing, Dr. Anderson accepted the invitation, and spent the day fishing with him along an Ozark stream, taking turns holding the man’s oxygen tank, and sharing their lives
Dr. Anderson and son enjoy an outdoor moment on a calm Missouri waterway.
together. It was the best gift he could have given…just what the doctor ordered. Among our team, Dr. Anderson is known for his down-to-earth manner, genuineness, humor, and most of all the humane way he cares for others. “He exudes compassion,” notes Kathi Holloway, Regional Director of Operations for CHA. He pokes fun at himself for his need to drink coffee to stay awake and alert during our interdisciplinary team meetings. On more than one occasion he has recited poems of his own composition, to honor our nurses during Nurse Appreciation Week. As guest speaker at our Volunteer Banquet earlier this year, his heartfelt comments and stories about end-of-life care brought tears to many eyes, including his own. Dr. Anderson once remarked that if he weren’t a doctor, he would perhaps be a psychologist or priest or massage therapist, because he sees himself mainly as an agent of healing. His own words
summarize well what his life is all about: “I believe in the transformational power of human relationships. I am a cancer doctor and a palliative care specialist. I am also a hospice medical director. Most of my patients die within days to a few years after I meet them. I believe I was put on this earth to do this work, and I find great satisfaction in helping people who many feel cannot be helped. I do this work with a committed team of other like-minded folks. What I have learned in my life and my work is that the most potent tool that a health care provider has is their spirit (the heart and the brain, specifically), and the very best way to apply that tool is in the context of a caring relationship.” Clay Anderson lives in Columbia, Missouri with his wife Michelle and their three children. He enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors and fishing.
End-of-Life Ministry Brings Out the Best in Volunteers By Rick Cousins Reprinted with permission from The Galveston County Daily News
hakespeare said, “Death is a fearful thing.” And modern American culture seems bent on obscuring death and dying from our daily consciousness. Dying in the 21st century often entails being surrounded by elaborate, even invasive technology, separated from society and off-the-radar of the rest of humanity. The modern hospice movement arose to bring faith and humanity back. The contemporary commitment began in the 1960s with the goal of providing support to those enduring life’s last worldly woes. It is a ministry local volunteers said has its own rewards. Shelia Elledge is one of those. She has been helping at Regency Hospice for several years. “I truly love what I do, and I consider it a blessing being able to visit with the patients that I have.” She said, “The patients are all God’s children, and scripture tells us that we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” Elledge is helping a 97-year-old woman. Elledge told the woman God wanted her here so Elledge could be her friend. “She then said to me that she knew that God had her name in his little black book,” Elledge said. “Being able to read the Bible to her or just taking her for a walk outside or going to the library with her in the nursing home to get a book to read is a wonderful experience for her.” Hospice isn’t a faith-based movement. It has no doctrinal requirements, but it does tend to attract people who believe there is hope beyond the grave. British dramatist Edward Young observed, “By night an atheist half believes in God.” So
although hospice is officially neutral on the matter of divinity and the afterlife, many of both the dying and their caring companions find themselves to be believers in both. Jimmie Reese is the volunteer coordinator for League City’s Regency Hospice. She oversees a group of consistent caregivers as young as 16 and as old as 75. Her helpers clean, do laundry, cook, mow yards and spend personal time with each patient. “Mother Teresa said that to listen when no one else will is a true gift from God,” Reese said. “Regency has 43 such individuals and these direct volunteers logged 1,714 hours listening, reading, holding hands, and showing love and respect to the Regency patients.” Ministries that address physical, spiritual and emotional needs are considered “holistic.’ The term isn’t theological but pragmatic. Bible reading, dish washing, hand-holding and simple conversation may not be on the list of canonization requirements for future saints, but as far as their clients are concerned, hospice volunteers are a shoe-in as they invest their time and labor in an effort, that sooner or later, death always appears to win. Elledge sums it up simply: “ It only takes a few minutes of your time to do little small things for the patients. To just sit on the couch with them in a lobby or their home, and just talk to them about their families. Being the hands and feet of Jesus – it is wonderful to be able to just listen to each patient and be their friend.”
Hospice isn’t a faith-based movement. It has no doctrinal requirements, but it does tend to attract people who believe there is hope beyond the grave.
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Six Months as a Hospice Nurse By Janette Mayberry, RN
Hospice of the Highland Rim – Columbia, Tennessee
y journey into health care is a common one that is woven with memories that continue to affect me to this day. The very fabric of my being is tied with strings and ribbons associated with growing up in a family with two disabled siblings. Being the oldest and healthiest, I became a caregiver of sorts at very early age. I am often curious when asking new student nurses and seasoned veterans what actually drove them into this health care profession we call nursing. I often hear various tales of heart rending trials and tribulations, with the all-knowing personality traits of “I want to be a hero,” or “I want to do something good with my life.” Sometimes it even reveals no true direction; they just thought it would be a good paying job. We as health care providers have worked with many different personalities, and there are millions of stories out there to share. Our individual calling to be the best nurse we can be to all that need and deserve our care is one of the most important career paths any person could choose. I personally chose nursing almost for the wrong reason – that being a patient advocate, something I learned from my own childhood. I, too, had aspirations that I could fix all the problems. I felt all I needed was the opportunity and I’d shake up this health care system. Well, it didn’t take long for the truth to sink in, and the system shook me instead. The life of health care in our country, the frequent changes to the delivery system, all encompassing mandated enforcements, and new conditions of participation sound ominous and overwhelming. As for the leaders, the administrators, and the directors
I would not trade anything for the experience to be part of this thing called hospice. It is an honor.
of theses systems, I sometime wonder if they have experienced good nursing during a health crisis, or bad, or even had a health crisis at all. However, we as caregivers dig deep into our souls and continue to bring out our best within the rules and regulations that govern how we must do our jobs. Oh, but wait a minute, there is this thing called hospice, and the team of hospice care givers. Of course there are licensed professionals, nurses, etc, but are they human, do they have wings? How is it that many of my friends and some of my colleagues, do not know, or have misconceptions about hospice caregivers and have not seen this very special type of health care? It may not even be the nurse or the hospice aide, but it could be the director of volunteer services, or the chaplain, or of course the ever present social worker, and yes, the director of clinical services, on whom the entire system rests for each agency. These folks are a different breed not often seen in the health care arena. They will actually sit and listen to their patients. They often become the glue for the family at a time when the fabric is frayed and worn. The team can become a liaison for family members that have not been involved for years. The presence of another human being in the mix that is objective and removed, yet connected to the needs of patients and families, it is the most integral facet of hospice. Hospice services
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are delivered in a manner that is singularly orchestrated for each patient and their very own end of life issues. This offers the patient and family to be the decision makers. We have the capability to ease the fear and allow the emotional spiritual waters to flow. This can be daunting at times. Yes, I am a hospice nurse. I cry sometimes when I am driving from one patient’s home to another. I sometimes carry the burden of feeling as though I can’t do more for a patient. I am not delusional anymore. I have a clear and true picture of what health care is and should continue to be. This picture I am referring to is the hospice relationship we develop for our patients and their families. I learn something daily about love, hope, caring – and in turn my own personal journey is enhanced in the process. My fellow colleagues are some of the most dedicated people I have had the pleasure of working with during my past six months as a hospice nurse. Nursing for sixteen years, only six months in hospice, it has been the best, and an unexpected joy marked with moments of soul searching. I have to think out loud sometimes and remind myself what a recently deceased author, Randy Pausch, wrote about his own end-of-life journey. In the popular best-seller, The Last Lecture, he wrote, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” Hospice nurses and health care providers do not always get what we want in this ever changing world of health care, but in this case, I would not trade anything for the experience to be part of this thing called hospice. It is an honor.
Yorik, the Wonder Dog By Janean Miller
Community Hospices of America – Mountain Grove, Missouri
n 1998 we heard about a Therapy Dog evaluation that would be held in St. Louis at the Missouri Humane Society. More curious than anything, we decided to take two of our
Norwegian Elkhounds to see if they would pass the strict evaluation. They passed their test, and we began looking for places to visit (even though a dog passes the evaluation, it is NOT a Therapy Dog if it doesn’t go anywhere). Eventually we had four nursing homes on our schedule every month – some we were visiting every other week, some only monthly. The more we visited, the more we were overwhelmed with the responses from many of the residents, who were thrilled to be able to pet a dog again, and share stories about the dogs they once had. We had a little toy piano at home and had taught all of out dogs to play it using their paws. We frequently took the piano along on our visits as a kind of ice-breaker. Even if someone didn’t want to touch the dog, they might like to see him play the piano. Piano playing and a few other tricks were big hits with many of the residents. We began thinking about doing more with tricks. In 2004 we moved from the St. Louis area to the Ozarks and settled on a farm south of Mansfield. Within a year we had a new Norwegian Elkhound puppy, Yorik. We had a plan for Yorik. He was going to learn LOTS of tricks, and eventually he would star in “The Tricky Dog Show,” which we would put on for nursing homes, Bible schools, scouts, etc. Yorik began learning tricks from the time he arrived at our house. Elkhounds are frequently perceived as hard to train, but Yorik was not. He absolutely LOVED to learn tricks. In no time Yorik had learned about thirty tricks and put on his first Tricky Dog Show for our church Bible school when he was only eight months old. Today, Yorik continues to learn and has a repertoire of over seventy-five tricks, including playing basketball, working math problems, stacking bowls, picking up trash, playing ring toss, and of course playing the piano. He has performed over thirty-five
shows since July 2007. Yorik also has become a registered Therapy Dog and began making regular visits to several local nursing homes in 2008. On a visit to Autumn Oaks in Mountain Grove, MO we met Roger Flint, the Chaplain for the Mountain Grove Community Hospices of America. Roger really liked our Therapy Dogs and thought they would be a perfect fit for hospice volunteer work. After our training sessions, we began regular visits with many hospice patients at the local nursing homes, and soon we were putting on a few Tricky Dog Shows every month at many other nursing homes that were served by Community Hospice. Yorik is very excited to do his shows and literally pulls us to the door of each facility we visit. We are very happy to provide residents with the opportunity to have a good laugh and to see something a little different. It is rewarding to think that you are making a difference in someone’s life by sharing a pet with them. We have had staff tell us that a patient who stayed in their room all the time insisted on coming to Yorik’s show. We have been told that people who never laugh have laughed at a piano-playing dog. We have seen a resident moved to tears when they felt Yorik’s soft coat. We have seen one resident so excited to see the show that he laughed at all the tricks BEFORE Yorik did them! These responses are priceless, and were the intent of the Tricky Dog Show from the start. We are thrilled that our show has become a reality and that it has brought joy to so many. Soon we will be adding a second dog to the show, Yorik’s baby sister Majik, and adding tricks for her to perform, perhaps a piano duet with Yorik.
“We have had staff tell us that a patient who stayed in their room all the time insisted on coming to Yorik’s show. We have been told that people who never laugh have laughed at a piano-playing dog. We have seen a resident moved to tears when they felt Yorik’s soft coat.” Vol. 1 • No.1
memories from the heart
Letters of Love By Diane Walk
Volunteer Coordinator, Community Hospices of America – Columbia, Missouri
have been a chaplain with Community Hospices of America since June 2006. I find it a joy to connect with patients and their families as they are approaching end of life. We often spend many hours talking about “the good old days.” Whether it is from the patient who shares the information or from family and friends of someone who can no longer communicate, there are usually many smiles and tears that communicate deep love. Many times I find people who want to remember the lives they have shared with their families. Sometimes it is the patient that initiates the desire to document this information and sometimes it is a loved one who doesn’t want to “forget” the joys they have shared when the patient passes from their presence. The format may vary but often includes special memories, honored achievements and shared experiences. I have helped families using photo albums, written stories about the patient, question-and-answer documentation of important life events, poems written by the patient about his or her life, and scrapbooks which combine photos and writings about the pictured event. One young lady was in the process of dying and had been very active in her community. Many people wanted to visit her in her home. There were days she was able to visit, and some days she was too tired. Two of her close friends took on the challenge of having those visitors write of some special memory shared with the patient. This became a tribute to a very strong woman who made a lasting impression on so many. I visited with an elderly couple that had been married over fifty years. They had raised a
family together and were able to spend their retirement years staying active in their church and community. The wife became unable to care for herself, and her husband and their children assumed care. Hospice was started and it was apparent she would not live long. When memories were shared and suggestions made for recording this information, they found it too hard, especially since the patient could not communicate any longer. A daughter, however, wanted to give a special gift to all the grandchildren. She compiled many pictures accumulated over the years, and there was enough for each child to have a special book about their grandparents and the love they had shared. These books were given to the children after the funeral and touched many hearts in a way that would be remembered through the years. I had the special privilege recently to assist a patient with a difficult task. She has A.L.S. (athero-lateral sclerosis). This causes a progressive degeneration of the muscles. Over the last year she has lost much function and has gone from using a walker to being confined to a wheel chair or bed. She can no longer feed herself, turn over in bed or wipe away her tears. She had been a very active, hard-working woman. She loves her family dearly, but has not seen some of them in quite a while. She knows she is facing the end of her life, and she is torn between wanting to see the grandkids grow up and have children or sparing them from seeing her decline and need life prolonging treatment. She has a strong faith and calls on Godâ€™s help often. After many months of sharing, seeing herself decline in mobility, and times of depression, we decided on a plan of action. She wanted a way to show her family who could not visit how she has to live now. It was felt that since they hadnâ€™t seen (continued on page 24)
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her since she was only using a walker they wouldn’t accept the drastic decline in health. She wanted to help them understand why she is ready to die when the Lord calls her home. The family that lives close see her often, but she knows it isn’t easy for them either. There are things she wanted to tell them: special memories she has of them as family, remembered activities they did together, and special words “just for them – from her.” With help from her daughter, nursing staff from the long term care facility she lived in, and Julie Forsee RN case-manager, we were able to compile four separate books that she wanted to use to say good-bye and share her love for them. One book was sent to her sister, one to her daughter who doesn’t live close, one to the guardians of her son who has special need, and one to her daughter and family who have stayed close during this transition time. Each book included two pictures of the patient as she is now with her limitations, and a picture of her chariot/ wheel chair. Select words, terms of endearment, and special memories were added that were special to her times with that particular family member. Then, in a pocket at the end of the book, a letter dictated by the patient especially for that person appeared, sharing her love and encouragement to them. She chose to mail three of the books but wanted her daughter that lives close to first read it out loud to her when her hospice nurse was present. After that her daughter was to read it to the grandchildren so that they too, could share these words, love and tears together with Grandma. In doing this project together, I have seen a sense of relief in the patient’s eyes. She is now looking ahead to her final days, knowing she was able to tell her loved ones things that were on her heart. There were things she had never said and things about her that she wanted remembered. This sense of peace is one of the goals of hospice care. Peace is something different to each person, and the methods and timing to reach this peace may be different as well. Walking with patients and their families through to this peace is one thing that makes my job special.
There are things she wanted to tell them: special memories she has of them as family,
remembered activities they did together, and special words
“just for them –
harmony & joy
“Knots of Love” Project By Veronica Martinez Volunteer Coordinator
Hospice Care Consultant Samaritan Care Hospice – San Antonio, Texas
he KNOTS of LOVE project began in Nov 2007 meeting twice a month with the Independent Living Residents, of Chandler Estates — Morningside Ministries. The activity was initiated and implemented by Brandy Davis, Activity and Community Program Coordinator at Chandler Estates Independent Living and Veronica Martinez, Volunteer Coordinator of Samaritan Care Hospice – San Antonio. The 16 residents are trained volunteers for Samaritan Care Hospice who meet twice a month to make these beautiful fleece blankets with their hands tying knots at the ends of pre-cut fabric which is purchased at a local Hancock fabric store in San Antonio. The volunteers generally make 12-14 fleece blankets per month and to date (11-1808) they have made about 150 blankets total. The KNOTS of LOVE Project offers therapeutic benefits such as socializing, hand and eye coordination and finger exercise as well as the self satisfaction of knowing that they are doing something special for someone in need, they look forward to the regular biweekly meetings and enjoy working on this Special Project. Our marketers, Aida Ramirez and Tammy Arabit-Burzlaff take these KNOTS of LOVE blankets to the surrounding Chemo and Radiation treatment clinics throughout the Bexar and surrounding county oncology clinics. The doctors and nurses have noticed a positive impact from the support we (especially the volunteers from Chandler), have provided through these KNOTS of LOVE blankets for their patients. These KNOTS of LOVE blankets are gifts for the patients to keep and bring back with them when they return for their next treatment appointment(s). Without a doubt these special KNOTS of LOVE blankets have had a positive impact on the patients who receive them and on the oncology clinical staff who distribute them to their patients in need.
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Juaneice “Nonie” Walton, Arthur Johansen, Herminia Rodriguez, Robert Poole, Martha Chapman, Elna Stone and Eunice Grimaldo
Juaneice “Nonie” Walton, Elna Stone, Audrey Hill, Herminia Rodriguez and Audrey Kelley
Martha Chapman, Eunice Grimaldo, Robert Poole, Samaritan Care Hospice Consultant- Aida Ramirez and Herminia Rodriguez
A Treasure Lost ... And Found An interview by Mike Lamb, MSW
y name is Anna Crofton. I was raised on a farm near Royalton, Wisconsin and then in La Crosse, Wisconsin. When I was but a teenager, my brother, Walter Thomack, enlisted into the Marines and went to basic training in Wisconsin and then California. Within a few weeks he was sent to fight in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Less then six months had gone by since he had left and three months since his last cheery letter had come to us. I was home alone one day while my parents attended an annual reunion some 200 miles away. I knew about the black, military cars that might drive up in front of homes, bearing the heartbreaking news of a fallen family member, a soldier taken down in wartime action. But in my case, there was a ringing phone. A military personage asked if he could speak to one of the parents of Walter. I explained that they were away. So the messenger simply made his pronouncement. “Walter K Thomack has been killed in action in the front lines of battle. He has been buried at Viru Harbor, New Georgia Island, the Solomon Islands.” I was told he was a hero. Shock and grief fell upon me in that moment, and it was all I could do to stay calm until my parents’ return. We eventually learned the details of Walter’s group and their engagement of heavy Japanese gun emplacements at Viru Harbor. Crack Imperial troops were entrenched there. The location a mere hop to New Guinea and perilously close to the northern shores of Australia. Marines were brought in by U.S. Corsairs and Air Cobras to the rear of the enemy. There was a four day march through the jungle to reach the enemy from the rear. Days and days of battle, toil and bloodshed followed. Finally came an ultimate victory and taking of the harbor. U.S. news clips of that period described the battle as one of the most important events up to that time in the Pacific Theater. Walter was killed July 1, 1943. The harbor and island were taken that same month. About a year later, we received a letter from President Roosevelt’s son, James, saying that my brother’s remains were being exhumed and returned to the states, and that he would be awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. When his remains arrived we held a burial ceremony in the one-room school house that Walter attended. He was buried on a hill nearby. In 1949 I met my husband-to-be, Bob Crofton, at Lutheran Bible
Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota. We married in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1952. I finished my studies, and Bob completed seminary in St. Paul, while I worked as a church secretary and youth director. Bob pastored for forty-three years full time and another two years part time before retiring in 1999. I worked quite a bit with children and young people and also as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher. For a few years I also had monthly Bible study meetings with young mothers. Now, our own four children live out of state from our final home, here in Ava, Missouri. As you may have guessed, I am now a hospice patient. And so is Bob. Together we are each other’s caregiver with the help of Community Hospices of America. And we are still in our own home, praise God! To get to the end of our story, I must tell you that Bob and I receive volumes of magazines, literature and religious periodicals. These and our other accumulations of a lifetime make for a home which some might say needs a backhoe more than a sprucing up. For me, priorities have become the biggest thing and a Better Homes and Gardens tidiness have been sacrificed gladly for organic gardening, cooking healthy meals, and enjoying our deep relationship for as long as God lets us continue in our earthly home. Perhaps as a result of our organized disorganization, Walter’s medal, a treasure to me, simply went missing. To be honest, I did not even know how it left or that is was gone. What finally happened was nothing short of a miracle. A person in our community, Cindy Thompson, had come to attend our church as a visitor just one Vol. 1 • No.1
time. Cindy helps run the Heart of the Hills Thrift Store and Food Pantry, where we make purchases and drop items off occasionally. Months went by until one day we arrived at the “Food Harvest,” as we call it. There was Cindy, greeting us in a most gracious and talkative manner. She asked about where I had grown up, what my maiden name was, and so forth. She then mentioned a name, asking if it was a relative. “Why that’s my mother!” I explained, becoming both intrigued and confused.
“I spoke with the Postmaster, the people at the Thrift Store, anybody I knew. Then I went online, and by putting in Walter’s name I got to a Veteran’s web site in Wisconsin that could only name his mother.” Cindy next called the U.S. Marines. They would not say what they knew, if anything, due to the strict confidentiality requirements that now exist. “I’m a bit of pit bull when it comes to these things, and decided that I would mail it to them, in hopes of their ability to find its proper home. Over the next ten
What finally happened was a miracle. She flipped it over and I saw that it was a medal with my long-deceased brother’s name on it. My tears and my amazement flowed freely. She then asked if I had a brother. I said I had several brothers, but three were deceased. When she asked if I knew a Walter Thomack, I became tearful in amazement and curiosity. Cindy then excused herself and came back with a mounted shiny object. I didn’t even know what it was. Then she flipped it over, and I saw that it was a medal with my brother Walter’s name on it. My tears and my amazement now flowed freely. I was stunned. Cindy, explaining that she had come from a military family who put high value on such things, described her efforts to find the family connected with this medal. everyday COMPASSION
days I was too busy to get it mailed That was when Miss Anna showed up.” It would have been so easy for anyone else to have simply discarded it, sold it on E-bay as WWII memorabilia, or kept it. But not Cindy. Her investigative curiosity focused in on me as she filled in the blanks. This precious medal, my brother’s Purple Heart, was thus returned to us and a very important treasure restored to me and my family. I am in awe of God’s graciousness and even humor, in all stages of our life, even when we forget our own past and our own heirlooms.
L O C AT I O N S ALABAMA
Community Hospices of America 3500 Blue Lake Drive, Ste. 270 Birmingham, AL 35243 (205) 970-3888
Amenity Hospice 3049 Cedar Heights Drive Cedar Falls, IA 50613 (319) 291-9000
Amenity Hospice 610 32nd Ave, Ste. F Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (319) 362-2500
RTA Hospice and Palliative Care
1225 Hancock Road, Ste. 200 Bullhead City, AZ 86442 (928) 763-6433 RTA Hospice and Palliative Care 1675 E. Monument Plaza Dr Casa Grande, AZ 85222 (520) 421-7143 RTA Hospice and Palliative Care 1000 N Humphreyâ€™s St, Ste 220 Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 556-1500
Community Hospices of America 8660 Fern Avenue, Ste. 145 Shreveport, LA 71105 (318) 524-1046 Hospice Care of LA/MS 770 Gause Blvd, Ste. C Slidell, LA 70458 (985) 639-8000
Amenity Hospice 2230 Jersey Ridge Road Davenport, IA 52803 (563) 359-3666
Samaritan Care Hospice 24445 Northwestern Hwy, #105 Southfield, MI 48075 (248) 355-9900
Amenity Hospice 5030 Wolff Road Dubuque, IA 52002 (563) 588-1070
Community Hospices of America 140 North 5th, Ste. B McComb, MS 39648 (601) 250-0884
RTA Hospice and Palliative Care 1789 W. Commerce Drive Lakeside, AZ 85929 (928) 368-4400
Community Hospices of America 200 East Centennial, Ste. 2 Pittsburg, KS 66762 (620) 232-9898
Community Hospices of America 725 Front Street Ext., Ste. 850 Meridian, MS 39301 (601) 483-5200
RTA Hospice and Palliative Care 511 S. Mud Springs Road Payson, AZ 85541 (928) 472-6340
Community Hospices of America 300 Highland Blvd, Ste. G Natchez, MS 39120 (601) 442-6600
RTA Hospice and Palliative Care 70 Bell Rock Plaza, Ste. A Sedona, AZ 86351 (928) 284-0180 RTA Hospice and Palliative Care 1025 W 24th Street, Ste. 15 Yuma, AZ 85364 (928) 344-6100
Hospice Care of Louisiana 1500-A Lee Street Alexandria, LA 71301 (318) 442-5002 Hospice Care of Louisiana 8280 YMCA Plaza Dr, Bldg 3, Ste. B Baton Rouge, LA 70810 (225) 768-0866
Hospice Care of LA/MS 141 Hwy 90 Waveland, MS 39576 (228) 863-1233
Hospice Care of Louisiana 302 La Rue France, Ste. 200 Lafayette, LA 70508 (337) 235-8690
Community Hospices of America 3044 Shepherd of the Hills Expy, Ste. 200 Branson, MO 65616 (417) 335-2004
Community Hospices of America 1640 N. Henderson Street Galesburg, IL 61401 (309) 342-3007
Hospice Care of Louisiana 2213 Justice Street Monroe, LA 71201 (318) 322-0062
Community Hospices of America 3050 I-70 Drive SE, Ste. 100 Columbia, MO 65201 (573) 443-8360
Community Hospices of America 2000 W. Pioneer Pkwy, Ste. 24 Peoria, IL 61615 (309) 691-0280
Hospice Care of Louisiana 2424 Edenborn Ave, Ste. 230 New Orleans, LA 70001 (504) 834-1655
Community Hospices of America 2418 Hyde Park Road Jefferson City, MO 65109 (573) 556-3547
Community Hospices of America 3130 Wisconsin, Ste. 6 Joplin, MO 64804 (417) 623-8272 Community Hospices of America 303 Missouri Street, Ste. A Macon, MO 63552 (660) 385-4400 Community Hospices of America 845 Hwy 60, Ste. A Monett, MO 65708 (417) 235-9097 Community Hospices of America 807 N Main, Ste. 1 Mountain Grove, MO 65711 (417) 926-4146 Community Hospices of America 1191 Hwy. KK, Ste. 102 Osage Beach, MO 65065 (573) 348-1566 Community Hospices of America 1465 E. Primrose Springfield, MO 65804 (417) 882-0453
NEW MEXICO Samaritan Care Hospice 1020 Eubank Blvd NE Albuquerque, NM 87112 (505) 332-0847
PENNSYLVANIA Samaritan Care Hospice 653 W. Skippack Pike, Ste. 12A Blue Bell, PA 19422 (215) 653-7310
SOUTH CAROLINA Samaritan Care Hospice 500 Jeff Davis Drive Spartanburg, SC 29303 (864) 542-2536
TENNESSEE Hospice of the Highland Rim 1412 Trotwood Ave, Ste. 5 Columbia, TN 38401 (931) 381-4090 Hospice of the Highland Rim 936 N. Jackson Tullahoma, TN 37388 (931) 455-9118
Community Hospices of America 270 Chestnut Osceola, MO 64776 (417) 646-2650
Regency Hospice 1610 James Bowie Dr., Ste. A105 Baytown, TX 77520 (281) 837-9200
Community Hospices of America 1406 Kentucky Ave, Ste. 100 West Plains, MO 65775 (417) 256-4127
Samaritan Care Hospice 9535 Forest Lane, Ste. 211 Dallas, TX 75243 (972) 690-6632
Samaritan Care Hospice 19221 I-45 N. Ste. 350 The Woodlands, TX 77385 (832) 585-0870 Regency Hospice 1770 St. James Place, Ste. 330 Houston, TX 77056 (713) 850-8853 Regency Hospice 1100 Gulf Freeway, Ste. 122 League City, TX 77573 (281) 316-7777 Samaritan Care Hospice 7001 Boulevard 26, Ste. 500 N. Richand Hills, TX 76180 (817) 590-9623 Samaritan Care Hospice 4400 Piedras Dr. South, Ste. 120 San Antonio, TX 78228 (210) 731-0505
WEST VIRGINIA Community Hospices of America 1033 Stafford Drive Princeton, WV 24740 (304) 431-2000 Community Hospices of America 66 Elkins Street Welch, WV 24801 (304) 436-2300
AFFILIATES of HOSPICE COMPASSUS
Vol. 1 â€˘ No.1
A quality hospice team of care provides a compassionate network of highly trained professionals and volunteers who work together as a team to assess and meet their patients’ and families’ needs. The team goes to great lengths to explore and evaluate treatment options in the context of each patients’ symptoms, values and wishes.
The Medical Director works in
conjunction with the patient’s regular doctor to ensure comfort and quality of life for the patient.
The Attending Physician
recommends the patient for hospice, establishes a plan of care, and follows the patient’s progress throughout.
evaluates the needs and advocates the rights of the patient to help the patient and family come to terms with the terminal illness.
assess the patient’s health and needs to provide necessary care for ensuring proper pain and symptom management for the patients.
Hospice Aides or CNAs serve the basic needs of the patient. Services range from bathing and feeding to monitoring the vital signs of the patient.
Spiritual Counselors provide spiritual and emotional guidance to support the patient and family regardless of religious beliefs. Trained Volunteers provide a variety of services for
the patient, family, and hospice in general. Whether they serve by reading a book, writing a letter, or just providing a warm smile, the volunteer is an integral part of the hospice team.
THIS PUBLICATION IS SPONSORED BY:
12 CADILLAC DRIVE • SUITE 360 • BRENTWOOD, TN 37027 (615) 425-5407 • www.hospicecompassus.com