August 3, 2015

The Reluctant Hospice Family

Michael Y. Writing Notes in Journal

When hospital physicians told Michael Y. that he should consider hospice care for his wife, Cheryl, who was dying from complications due to multiple sclerosis, he at first declined. No one could take care of his wife the way he and his family had for 20 years.

When More Care is Needed, VITAS Comes Quickly

So he returned to their Atlanta home with Cheryl. But it immediately became apparent that she needed more care than they could provide. Her disease had advanced to the point where she could not swallow, and her body temperature had risen to a dangerously high level. He decided to call VITAS.

“Within an hour, Admissions Nurse Toni Tatum was at our door,” Michael wrote in a letter to VITAS General Manager Paula Sanders. Because of Cheryl’s acute symptoms, Toni recommended that she be transported to the VITAS Inpatient Hospice Unit in Stockbridge. Michael reluctantly agreed.

“On admission, my wife … who was quite distressed … was assessed, bathed and comforted,” wrote Michael. And within 30 minutes, she was asleep.

Dignified and Beautiful

“Having worked as a registered respiratory therapist for 21 years, I have witnessed thousands of end-of-life experiences. I never imagined the death of a family member could be experienced in such a dignified and beautiful way,” wrote Michael. “Our family will be forever grateful for all the expertise and compassion provided by VITAS personnel. I pray that each of you has the strength to continue to do what you do.”


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