The VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care team often talks to patients and family members about goals at end of life. These could include being pain-free, gathering family around, or attending a particular event. For Steven*, one goal was to get his 19-year-old cat, Jenny, back.
Jenny had crawled out a window in the fall and remained missing for many months, making Steven anxious and sad. Then, one spring day, she reappeared at the front door of his apartment building. “Steven’s eyes just shine when he’s with Jenny,” says hospice spiritual care counselor Bette. “He’s so happy to have her back. It really is a miracle.”
Steven is one of more than 1,300 patients in VNSNY Hospice care on any given day, receiving services that bring quality of life to end of life. Our multi-disciplinary teams offer medical, nursing, emotional, and spiritual care, as well as family support, to help patients remain home and as comfortable as possible in their final days. For Steven, the care—and the company—are particularly meaningful, because he does not have regular visits or support from family. Donations to the hospice program help make caring for patients like Steven possible.
Steven cannot speak due to his illness, so he communicates through writing with his hospice team. He jots down every medical incident and question he has, so he can participate in his care and comfort with hospice nurse Elaine Gillard.
Since her return, Jenny the cat has been a great source of comfort. “When I saw Steven yesterday with Jenny, I thanked him for teaching me the power of hope,” says Bette.
* The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.
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