Dorothy was still at home.
She was ambulatory but needed oxygen. Dick was taking wonderful care of her, but was struggling a bit trying to navigate the healthcare system and inviting someone into his home that he didn’t know to help with her care. He needed a bit of respite too — 10 minutes to himself for a cup of coffee or a quick trip to the office. He just didn’t know who to trust.
I was relatively new here but asked if he would allow me to walk alongside our nurse and the family and that I would find the solution. We would be there to walk this journey with him. At the time, all of our nurses were fully engaged, but I found my answer over coffee with a retired nurse who was one of our volunteers. I heard a voice tell me, “She’s the one.”
Dick wanted to see if this would work — if he could actually leave Dorothy alone with the nurse and if she would feel safe. The initial visit started with the nurse arriving with a basket containing pre-measured ingredients for making banana bread. At the door, Dorothy asked her, “What are you doing here?” And she said, “Well, Dorothy, I thought we could do some baking.” And Dorothy said, “Great, let’s do it.”
Dick took a couple of hours for himself, and when he got back, the nurse and Dorothy were sitting outside. When he came in, Dorothy said, “Meet my new friend. We’ve had a fabulous time.” This set his heart at ease and gave him peace of mind and we just kept moving forward with visits.
Her nurse integrated faith into her care.
They would pray Divine Mercy together, read the Magnificat, and read Scripture. It all brought Dorothy such peace of mind.
A couple of months later, Dorothy was experiencing pain, losing weight, and just not able to engage as she had been. It was then that I suggested to Dick that we needed to investigate hospice care. He was reluctant, like all of us are. We don’t want to face what means an end of life.
We brought in our Board member, Dr. Rastrelli, and he spent a couple of hours with Dick. That heart-to-heart conversation about our faith journey and what hospice care really is made all the difference for Dick, but also for us as an organization.
Dorothy entered hospice care on a Friday. She was able to say goodbye to all her kids and grandkids and affirm them in her love for them. She slipped into a coma and passed on Tuesday. She had a dignified, beautiful, and peaceful death with her husband and her family surrounding her.
Dick shared later that being able to be home with Dorothy with everyone gathered at her bedside was such a gift. Also bringing our priest in to say Mass and provide the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick allowed us to minister to the family through our faith and just love on them fully.
Our biggest goal is for every patient to feel heard, seen, and loved.
And we felt like we provided that for the Campbell family. It not only gave us gratitude, but it was also such an honor to be part of this beautiful and sacred journey.
The journey with Dorothy and Dick was pivotal for our organization and we have now transitioned exclusively to home hospice care. The call to this ministry has never been clearer and more needed in our community.
Even though most hospice providers have a chaplain on staff, our research found there isn’t a home hospice provider that is authentically Catholic.
So, building on our loving service in Colorado for nearly 100 years, Dominican Home Health Agency is now Emmaus Catholic Hospice. Our mission is to provide authentically Catholic home hospice care and education in the Denver community.
We know that a good deal of education will be needed. Families and patients deserve clear and comforting understanding of how home hospice care honors the season of our lives that is often the least discussed and understood.
As we prepare for this holy Christmas season, Scripture reminds us that “for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” We are in a new season of service with Emmaus Catholic Hospice and are trusting in your generosity as we prepare to offer in-home hospice care in the new year.
We will be prudent stewards of your investment as we accompany patients and their families on this sacred journey.
May God bless you and your family with a Merry Christmas season. Thank you for coming alongside as we begin providing authentically Catholic home hospice care and education in the Denver community.