When you think about the month of November most people think of fall or Thanksgiving and spending time with family. Most individuals do not realize November is National Hospice Month, designated to raising awareness about the high-quality care that helps patients and family caregivers live as fully as possible.
Privilege, Blessing and Honor
Caring for someone at the end of their life can be a privilege, a blessing and an honor. This is a selfless time, and caregiving is a gift that rewards both the caregiver and patient. For Carla Werner, helping and caring for others has always been something she enjoyed.
In November of 2014, Carla’s father-in-law, Larry Werner, was transported by ambulance to his home near Hampden, ND, and received care from Altru’s Hospice located in Devils Lake, ND. The nursing staff worked with Carla and Larry’s wife, Ione, to provide comfort care as Larry’s wish was to die at home. Larry passed away January 15, 2015.
Years earlier, Carla and her husband were asked to be guardians for John Furbur, who grew up on a neighboring farm. They were more than happy to add John to their family of three daughters. John lived in Devils Lake as a consumer with REM North Dakota and would spend the holidays at the farm. Everyone always said John was lucky to have the Warner family, but Carla felt they were the lucky ones to have John. In 2015, John was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was cared for by Altru’s Hospice in Devils Lake at his home at REM. Carla spent her days and evenings caring for John until he passed away on March 22, 2015. Carla finds comfort in knowing John no longer has any disabilities in heaven.
Carla’s mother-in-law, Ione Werner, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in May 2015. She moved into Heartland Care Center, an assisted living facility in Devils Lake. Altru’s Hospice provided care to Ione and her family in the assisted living facility. Carla appreciated how honest the hospice staff was with her and the family. When they had questions, someone was on call 24 hours a day. If Ione needed anything for comfort, the Altru Hospice staff was able to provide it quickly. The hospice staff shared with the family the indicators that death was nearing. Ione passed away peacefully on August 10, 2015.
There is a sense of intimacy when serving your loved one at their most vulnerable time. Caring for a loved one with an incurable illness brings responsibilities and demands that may seem overwhelming at times. These experiences, although difficult, can be meaningful in unexpected ways. Carla is grateful Altru’s Hospice staff was there to help her and her family during this difficult year.
The theme this year for hospice month is “Hospice. Helps. Everyone.” We would like to honor Altru’s Hospice nurses, aides, therapists, social workers and medical director who make a difference for the patients and families daily.
Altru’s Hospice has offices in Grand Forks, Cavalier, Park River, Grafton, McVille, Devils Lake, ND, and Warren, MN. For more information about Altru’s Hospice, please call 701.780.5258.
Larissa Kadlec, community relations coordinator with Altru’s Home Health and Hospice, has been with Altru for eight years. She oversees, plans and implements public relations and marketing activities to support home health and hospice. Larissa enjoys spending time at the lake with her family and dog in the summer and attending UND hockey games in the winter.