Lifelong connections made through hospice care

Last Modified: 6/13/2022

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Please note, the names in this story have been changed to protect the privacy of any patients involved.

Parkview Hospice is known for its compassionate end-of-life care. This was certainly the case for one hospice patient and his family. Read on as they share their story and reflect on the exceptional care they received from their hospice care team.

William and Mary

Married for 59 years, William and Mary had three beautiful sons and loved spending time together. Overall, they were both relatively healthy individuals. William was diagnosed with diabetes early on but always managed to keep it under control through diet and exercise. He never dealt with high blood pressure and remained active for most of his life.

Over time, William was eventually diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). His biggest complaint was shortness of breath, but it didn’t keep him from doing what he loved. However, despite his positive attitude, his condition continued to progress. “COPD is a condition that seems to creep into your life, no matter what,” Mary said. “Ultimately, it’s what qualified him for hospice, but sadly, he also developed dementia.”

After a routine wellness visit, William recognized that he was having memory problems and decided to discuss it with his provider. Shortly after, he went to see a neurologist and, sadly, he was diagnosed with dementia. “You could see, layer by layer, his memory and personality were slowly being taken away by the disease,” Mary recalled. “But despite the memory loss, William was such a kind and gentle person. That’s why one of my main goals was to keep him at home until the end. I didn’t want him in a hospital or institution. I couldn’t do that to him.”

Their journey with hospice

Mary received a referral to Parkview Home Health and Hospice a little over a year ago, making it possible for her to keep her husband comfortable while at home during the last phase of his life. During that time, Dawn Sturdivant, RN, Parkview Home Health & Hospice, and Priscilla Christian, certified nursing assistant, Parkview Home Health & Hospice, made weekly visits and soon became like family.

Mary often referred to Dawn and Priscilla as her guardian angels when speaking about them with family and friends. “If they were having a bad day, I never knew it,” Mary remembered. “They were always smiling and so uplifting.” Mary also appreciated their willingness to help and their patience and skillful interactions with William. “I loved that they always addressed him when speaking or explaining something,” Mary gushed. “They never made him feel like he was an old man with health problems. They spoke to him just like they spoke to me.”  

On the morning of William’s passing, hospice was there. Mary called Dawn at 2 a.m., just as she had insisted. Mary was amazed at how quickly she arrived and how Dawn took care of everything, including contacting the funeral home, despite the fact it was her day off, and she was planning to leave on a trip. “It was never an obligation for her,” Mary said. “It’s like she was taking care of a family member or close friend.”

As Mary wrote William’s obituary, she made a list of all the relatives she wanted to include, plus Dawn and Priscilla. Even though mentioning caregivers in obituaries is rare, Mary thought it was only fitting to recognize the amazing work they do. “I will forever be grateful to Parkview Hospice, Dawn and Priscilla. I can’t thank them enough for the loving, compassionate care and friendship they provided my husband and me,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience during a very difficult time.”

Mary’s final thoughts

Mary offered these final words of advice for others walking through a similar experience with a loved one, “If the opportunity presents itself, don’t hesitate to become a part of the hospice family,” Mary encouraged. “I know that’s what got me through some of my toughest, most challenging days.”

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