"I want to thank you for helping take care of mom at home. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. You're not only a special person for what you do but a good friend to me through some tough times. In the end, everything worked out beautifully for mom. The whole family was there for her. We really appreciated your smile and your kindness. Mom really liked you. Please thank the other nurses for me."
Not all Hospice experiences end with a final goodbye, Ethel one of former patients reflects on her thoughts pertaining to her experience with hospice.
'My doctor didn't think I'd live long... and truthfully, neither did I," Ethel confesses, referring to her health in the fall. Two years later we revisited and asked Ethel to share her story.
Ethel was diagnosed with COPD and congestive heart failure. She spent weeks in the hospital before being sent home and was then put in the hands of Lakeland Area Hospice. She admits that she was terribly ill, but when her doctor recommended Hospice, the idea was very upsetting. Talking to her now, she can't even recall why she was so reluctant.
Perhaps her reluctance was in part because Hospice is thought to mean immediate death. Or perhaps it was the fact that Ethel was born to a large family and raised on a farm where she learned to work hard and take care of herself. Regardless of the reason, Ethel confides that she's really glad that Lakeland Hospice was there to help her through. Talking to her, I can instantly sense that she already misses her daily visits from Hospice.
Ethel's condition had stabilized due to a structured routine of medication, symptom management hygiene, and compassionate care. She was discharged from hospice. But she knows when she needs Lakeland again, they will be there.
"I'm so happy that I went on Hospice to know what they do; especially for the spiritual part. I can't tell you how grateful I am to all of those people." Ethel is now back to enjoying life and caring for herself. "It's such a different story now," she says. Ethel attributes Lakeland Area Hospice to be a large part of what helped her get better. "I love Hospice - every aspect of it. I'd give Lakeland Area Hospice 110%!"
In an effort to provide meaningful support to its patients and families, Lakeland Area Hospice has established the Sister Norma Jean Kingsley, OSB Benevolent Fund to assist individuals in those areas where financial and material goods are needed.
Lakeland is located at 2221A Peninsula Drive in Erie and is dedicated to providing dignified, compassionate care to those in need at the most difficult and challenging time in life's journey. Sister Norma Jean has served as chaplain in the spiritual care and bereavement departments at Lakeland since its beginning in 2009.
The benevolent fund is named in her honor in recognition of her years of service. "Lakeland Area Hospice-Palliative care has been a wonderful experience for me," said Sister Norma Jean. "To be with folks as they attend to their own personal leave-taking from this earth to move toward fullness of life with God has been very special."
Sister Norma Jean, involved in Hospice Ministry first through Hospice of Metropolitan Erie, then through Heartland Hospice, and finally at Lakeland Palliative Care Hospice, recently retired from this very special ministry. "My years of companioning people in their journey through death to life have been a great blessing," she said. I would not change them for anything."