When her husband, John, was diagnosed with cancer and multiple complications, Laura Van Houden felt it was her duty to take care of him herself. And for a good six months last year, she did just that. She kept a very close eye on him, responding to his every need.
But as the disease progressed and John grew sicker by the day, Van Houden finally acknowledged that she needed help. During one of his hospitalizations, she was introduced to Mercy Hospice.
“Thinking he needed more care than I could give him, I finally said yes. I relented my duties and allowed someone else to come into our home,” she recalled.
“I thought he was my responsibility and I wanted to take very good care of him. But they (hospice team) also took very good care of him.”
Mercy Hospice was launched a year ago to extend the Mercy ministry to individuals diagnosed with terminal illness and their families. Hospice services are available 24/7 and a multi-function team provides a full range of clinical and personal care for patients – from pain management to bathing – as well as emotional support, education and respite for family caregivers. This even includes bereavement support and the offering of a grief support group for families and loved ones. The hospice team includes the physician medical director, nurse manager, nurse aide, chaplain, social worker and volunteers.
In addition to the personal, clinical and emotional care offered, the hospice team also supports patients in yet another special way, thanks to a charitable fund established by Mercy Health Foundation.
The fund is supported through donations and is designed to help patients with practical needs – such as assistance paying for medications or a utility bill - or even the fulfillment of a “last wish.” This month, the Mercy foundation has launched the “Works of Love” campaign to facilitate gifts to this cause. Click here to help fulfill a need for a hospice patient.
In sharing her experience, Van Houden recalled how comprehensive the hospice care was – for both John and her.
“I was just amazed at what they brought in to the house to help him that we never had to pay anything for,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe the hospice plan, it was just wonderful. They also helped me mentally, as well as him. It was just more than I could ever explain…so much great help.”