In early 2020, Barbara Davis passed away while receiving inpatient hospice care with HopeHealth. She asked us to share her story so others could understand the benefits of hospice care.
In a softly lit room of the HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center, Barbara Davis reclines in a hospital bed, crocheting a blue and white scarf. Although legally blind, she finds muscle memory is enough to power her fingers through tidy stitches.
Barbara is comfortably at work. She is dying, but she is at peace.
“Nobody talks about dying, and they should,” she says alertly. “They wait until the end and then it’s too late to get things in order.”
Barbara suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other illnesses. Before starting hospice, she endured frequent hospitalizations and also received care from HopeHealth Visiting Nurse.
As a widow with no children, Barbara consulted closely with her health care providers before choosing to be admitted to the inpatient hospice center.
“I couldn’t be in a better place.”
Barbara’s hospice team includes Dr. Jensy Stafford, a hospice and palliative care physician. She and her colleagues work to manage symptoms, improve quality of life and empower patients to make decisions.
For example, some patients, but not all, want to understand their life expectancy. That was the case for Barbara, who asked Dr. Stafford how much time she had left.
Discussions like these can be difficult, but Dr. Stafford told Barbara it could be months versus years. “Barbara became tearful for a moment, then thanked me for telling her,” Dr. Stafford recalls, “she said it was helpful for her to hear that because she had things to do.”
Barbara did take action. Aided by a social worker, she signed a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) and made funeral arrangements. She met with a chaplain and received rosary beads. Most importantly, she arranged for her beloved mother-in-law’s antiques to be returned to her late husband’s family.
“Everything is going to be taken care of the way I want it. It’s all in writing,” Barbara explains.
Naturally inquisitive, Barbara asks lots of questions and is eager to share what she learns. “The people here on the team know how to communicate and are highly knowledgeable,” she says.
One lesson concerns the complex use of morphine. After initial skepticism, Barbara opted to receive a very low dose to help her breathe. She was happy to find the medication helped her feel better and hasn’t interfered with her ability to converse with visitors.
All in all, Barbara feels gratitude for her HopeHealth caregivers.
“Your surroundings are so important. It’s very calming here and I don’t feel anxious,” she explains. “The people here are very courteous, very upbeat. I couldn’t be in a better place.”