North Tonawanda Family Experiences Comfort & Support at Niagara Hospice House

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By Janet Ligammari, RN
Director of Hospice Facility Services at Niagara Hospice House

I would love to share a story with you that has really touched me. It is the story of Bill, and I am so grateful that his wife Miriam has allowed me to share it with you.

Whenever I meet a patient at Hospice House, I try to look beyond what is in front of my eyes. I don’t just see a person who is in need of our care, but I look at their story, their life and who they are and what they have done. In Bill, I saw a proud determined man who was part of a caring family that had always been a source of strength to him, as he was to them. He was a man of faith who radiated kindness and had a great sense of humor. He told me he had been a truck driver.

And here he was, in his last days, wanting nothing more than to spend time with his family. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had placed visitor restrictions on his previous location but with our special exemptions of compassionate care and end-of-life treatment, we were able to move him to Hospice House where he could be comfortable and receive visitors safely.

At Hospice House we were able to find out what he liked and provided him with those things that were familiar to him, like his Pepsi; a treat he hadn’t been able to have for a while. He enjoyed the food. And he got to spend precious time with Miriam and their daughter Karoline. I walked by his room one day and heard him laugh with Miriam… it’s these kinds of moments that confirm I made the right choice at a young age to be a nurse.

As a child I remember telling my family that I was going to be a nurse and I never wavered from that dream. Today I’m so grateful that I can live my dream and help families like Bill and Miriam’s during a difficult time. I can promise them that they will receive uncompromising care from all of us at Hospice House, from the doctors to the nurses, and from our tireless aides to the marvelous kitchen staff. I will advocate for them, mediate if necessary, and ensure that their time is quality time.

Bill passed away on March 29. He and his family had time to say their good-byes and find solace in each other in a caring and calm environment.

My colleagues have convinced me that I need to share the stories of love, compassion and care I see every day. I would like to thank Miriam and Karoline who have allowed me to share Bill’s story, and all the other family members who have touched our lives with their stories. We are so honored that the families in Niagara County trust us to care for their loved ones.  
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My Family's Experience at Niagara Hospice House                                                              
By Miriam, North Tonawanda, NY


In September 2019, my daughter Karoline and I knew that Bill would be celebrating his last birthday with us. He had been on home dialysis for almost four years and doing well with it, but started to develop many additional health issues.

In the beginning of March, Bill was getting weaker by the day and decided to stop dialysis, after consulting his nurse and doctor. We were then in contact with Niagara Hospice to make his last days comfortable for him. My daughter and I decided to keep Bill at a rehab facility because he was also dealing with anxiety. Bill’s first full day under hospice care in the rebab facility was March 12. That very evening, the governor stopped visitation to all medical centers, except places that have hospice patients only. 

A few days later, I was invited by Niagara Hospice to transfer Bill to the Hospice House, since then I could visit him, and not just hours before passing. I said, “Yes” immediately! I met Bill shortly after he arrived in Lockport. It was so nice to see him and able to talk to him. He was happy also. I mentioned why he was transferred to a new location and it was only an hour or two later that Bill said he loved it there!

The hospice team was very supportive right from his arrival. They introduced themselves and their role in the care of Bill, whether it was medical staff, spiritual with the chaplain, the social worker or the housecleaning staff. I knew they had a smile on behind their mask to greet us by their tone in their voice.

So often, it’s the little things that make all the difference. When I mentioned Bill did not have the strength to push the call light, they took care of that and he received a different type. I was able to bring food that Bill enjoyed but could not have with no problem. Who cares at this point, but just to make him happy! Bill did have choices for his meals, but he loved the various meals such as: pot roast, turkey with the trimmings, or the Polish sausage with pierogies. The desserts were great! All meals came on a silver tray to make the patients feel special. If I wasn’t there to assist Bill, I knew someone would assist him with his meals. I felt at ease because I knew his needs were taken care of and he was in good hands.

Lastly, it was so nice to spend time with Bill his last few days in a setting that I was able to visit at any time and stay as long as I wanted, along with Bill’s siblings or our Pastor from our church to give us spiritual comfort. Our family received so much support during Bill’s time in Hospice and in the months after his passing. It is so thoughtful and kind to be remembered.

Please click here to give to Niagara Hospice.

Thank you for your generous support!

 

                                                                                      

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