Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House Tea 

April 2, 2016

Good afternoon everyone. It is so great to see the faces of those who were with us last year and those who are new to our Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House Tea. As Debby said, my name is Dr. Ann O’Donnell and I am the Medical Director for Genesis Hospice. Both our Community Hospice program as well as the CCCHH. I have a few other duties as assigned because a month ago or so my new title became the Medical Director of Post Acute Care. Now, I have not given away any of my duties surrounding hospice, the hospice house or home care. I just couldn’t. My heart would ache if I could not do my job with hospice patients. But I have added a few duties that I hope will indirectly and ultimately help us reach out to more patients that are nearing the end of their life so that they will have the opportunity to receive hospice care when it is needed.

So, I have been asked to bring you up to speed with regards to what has happened in the past year. When in fact, it has not been a full 11 months since we were together last May of 2015. Mark Bawden will tell you about all of the financial things that have happened with us and what has happened with our endowment campaign, and those are pretty exciting in and of itself. But I would like to share with you a few other things. A few stories of patients that we have encountered and had the privilege of caring for along the way. And I want to brag about our staff a little bit too.

You know, we talk about Clarissa Cook being a “benevolent” woman. And I’m sure she was. But I have to tell you, we have benevolence all over the place at the hospice house. Just to remind you, benevolence means a disposition to do good, an act of kindness or an inclination to be kind. A synonym we can use is compassion, kindheartedness, friendliness and sympathy. I believe you will see benevolence in action in our stories. In addition to the nursing care that goes on at the Hospice House, the group who has worked there, who continue to work there and will work there in the future, are full of a benevolent spirit that is present every day as we care for those at the end of their life.

One of my favorite quotes from William W. Purkey is as follows, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching; love like you’ll never be hurt; sing like there’s nobody listening; and live like it’s heaven on earth. “We’ve been doing some dancing, some singing and some other things in the past year.

Just a couple of weeks ago a patient that we had with Genesis Hospice for almost 2 years was able to use the Hospice House for his second time. This gentleman was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago in May. He immediately said he did not want any treatment. Early on he struggled with weakness, pain and being short of breath. He came to the Hospice House for a brief respite stay because his daughter had a trip planned and she was the patient’s primary care provider. He was happy to come to the House, we took the opportunity to adjust his medications a little bit and when she returned he was happy because he felt a little better. He always told me that he would be back, but he wasn’t coming a day earlier than he needed to. Although he continued to decline he was able to live fairly independently until his last week of life. A couple of weeks prior to the start of his significant decline, with the help of his volunteer who saw him regularly, it was arranged to have him receive the sacrament of baptism. It was a very special time for this man and he was so pleased that we were able to help him see this to completion. Less than 2 weeks later this man made his last trip to the Hospice House where he said, “Well Doc, I’m back. Just like I told you.” He died a few days later.

Last year I told you about a couple who were both ultimately admitted to the Hospice House. He was quickly approaching death and she was in a nursing home in Illinois failing as well. Both were eligible for hospice care. Mr. was brought to the CCCHH and we brought Mrs. to the House the next day so that she could be with her husband when he passed. She told me that she only wanted to live long enough for him to pass and then she would be ready to go. Her husband passed and she appeared as though she would follow him in a few days. But as fate would have it, we adjusted a few of her medicines and supported her with the intention of allowing a natural death. But 3 months later, she had improved to the point where she elected to revoke her hospice benefit and return to her home. Now I have to tell you. At first she was not very happy with us. She was married to her husband for 67 years and could not see a life without him. She did OK at home for the next few months but is now back with us again and not doing well. When I went to see her about a week ago the first thing she said to me was, “now don’t get any ideas about making me better. I am ready to go.”

I’ve told you before about the children’s room at the Hospice House and about 3 weeks ago it was used on a daily basis for about 10 days. I looked in there one afternoon and there was the cutest little girl playing with the doll house and cooking a meal for her aunt who was watching her. There was a boy who was coloring a picture for his mom and there was a teenage girl in her pajamas sitting in the bean bag chair. She was lost in her thoughts and not aware of any of her surroundings. Those 3 kids belonged to a young mother who was with us for about 10 days before her death. When I talked with her family when they were initially admitted to hospice, they thought their plan was to try to take their daughter home. After the first 48 hours in the House, they knew why she needed to be at the House and have the 24 hour nursing care that is provided there. That was a long 10 days for the patient, her family and for our staff. But I have to say, I think they rose to the occasion. It is difficult for everyone when the patient is younger than you.

In the past year we have had many opportunities for birthday parties and anniversary celebrations but we are especially proud of the video that we are going to show you. It came to our attention during one of our weekly care plan meetings that one of the patients, who had a very short life expectancy, had a young daughter who was set to graduate in May of 2016. When we discussed this, I told our team that I was pretty darn certain that he would not be with us in May. Well that is all our staff needed to know and they went to work. And here is what happened…….


I wasn’t there for this event but Tammy Mohs, our Hospice House Nurse Practitioner, text me that day and said, “We made you proud today.” And boy was I.  Some of you know and many of you don’t know that we have Pleasant Valley students who come to the Hospice House weekly for a knitting group. They make some of our prayer shawls that we give to patients. This group is performing service hours for school and toward their graduation requirements. So my understanding is that a call was made to the Volunteer Coordinator at Pleasant Valley High School. No one in our group wants to take credit for this event and I am sure it involved many hands, but I’m told that Lori Ludgate one of our Social Workers was very involved and another one of those directly involved with making this happen was Lori Bruning our Hospice Volunteer Coordinator who is here today. (Clap) It takes a team. Believe it or not, we were able to pull together another graduation celebration just a week ago within a day, for the children of one of our home patients. As opposed to this celebration at the Hospice House, the graduation at home was a very small, quiet celebration with just the patient’s immediate family. It still has a lasting impression on all of us at Genesis Hospice to think that we were instrumental in helping make those lasting memories.

The last story that I want to share with you is about those who really can’t afford to be at the Hospice House. We are seeing more and more people who do not have the financials resources to pay the room and board. Not just at the CCCHH but at any facility, anywhere. If they are hospice eligible we usually just bring them to the Hospice House because it is the right thing to do. If there are some financial resources at times we will develop a reduced rate with the patient and family for the short term until we can create a better plan. There usually is not another alternative plan but we look because we want to be good stewards of the resources that we have. This past winter we had a patient who was at home and we could tell that he was not doing well at home. The Hospice RN Case Manager talked to him till she was blue in the face but he was stubborn. He really was becoming unsafe to live alone. His kids checked in on him but he didn’t budge. He refused to move anywhere. He said he didn’t need any help. We hear that a lot. Rarely is it an accurate statement. So our patient stood by that statement. That was until he burned his house down. His home was a total loss. Well the only appropriate thing to do was to move him to the hospice house early that morning. Although he was a stubborn man we now know he was a proud man as well. Because of his finances his room and board rate was reduced to $40/day. Each day one of his kids came with $40 to “pay his bill.” He didn’t live long after the fire. Even though he thought that we had a “pretty nice place” it still wasn’t his home.

So I hope that I have given you a few thoughts to take with you as to what we are doing at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House. I have to tell you at times it is difficult to think of these events to share with you because many times we, those who work in Hospice, just think of it as part of our day. We have so many amazing events that we are part of every day. We are so proud to be a part of our patient’s, your family members and friend’s lives. Our goal is to help everyone live their life to the fullest for whatever time we have with them. Before I introduce Mark Bawden I will leave you with one more thought, which is a quote from Maya Angelou. She once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

- Dr. Ann O'Donnell 

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