Below is a story on how Good Samaritan Hospice made a tremendous impact on one family, published in our June 2011 issue of Faith in Caring magazine. To be added to the mailing list or e-mail distribution list, e-mail us here or call the Concordia Public Relations Department at 724.352.1571, ext. 8266. Enjoy!
"A Little Help From My Friends" is one of the most recognizable songs in modern history. Whether sung by The Beatles, who originally wrote the tune in 1967, or Joe Crocker, whose adaptation was used as the theme song for the iconic sitcom "The Wonder Years," one can't help but recall serious imagery from its powerful lyrics and compelling tone. For some, the song brings to mind childhood promises made with best friends in the schoolyard. For others, it hearkens to memories of a time when loved ones gave the necessary strength to triumph over a difficult situation.
But for over 120 people every month, the song just might evoke memories of Good Samaritan Hospice, a mission of Concordia Lutheran Ministries, and the way caregivers helped them through one of the hardest experiences in life: the death of a loved one.
Beaver County resident Donna Belich is the daughter of one of those people cared for by Good Samaritan Hospice.
"Do You Need Anybody"
Just before Thanksgiving in 2010, Donna's father Nick Manojlovich, 89-years-old, was given his final diagnosis of prostate cancer with advanced bone metastasis. For two years prior to that fateful day, he battled bile duct cancer, diabetes, macular degeneration and signs of heart failure.
His wife Sophie, a three-time breast cancer survivor, was determined to care for her husband at home without help from a professional caregiver. They'd been independent their entire lives why change that now?
As Sophie unfortunately found out, caregiving 24-hours per day can take its toll. A few weeks after Nick's diagnosis, his health started failing rapidly, to the point where Sophie was becoming overwhelmed by not only the responsibility of caregiving, but also the physical and emotional strain. At that time, a Good Samaritan Hospice community educator who knew the family through Donna's husband Steve (a surgeon at Heritage Valley Health System) offered to help.
"The hospice nurse specifically outlined what assistance Good Samaritan would provide," Donna said. "My mother agreed, much to my surprise. By that same evening, a hospital bed was delivered and hospice care was immediately in place."
"Gonna Try with a Little Help From my Friends"
Nick's condition progressed as anticipated three weeks after Good Samaritan Hospice began comfort measures. On New Year's Day Nick was transported to the Good Samaritan Hospice House in Wexford to receive around-the-clock care. The next afternoon, it was clear he would be going to heaven at any moment.
At 9:21 p.m. on January 2, Sophie was by his side when he died surrounded by his family, his Good Samaritan Hospice caregivers and the beautiful and peaceful setting at the House.
"This was my first experience losing someone very close to me, yet I felt such a peace and calm around me that evening, being at that House," Donna said. "Our family has talked about that night often, and we all agree that my father's passing would not have been as peaceful had it not been for Good Samaritan's care."
Now, Donna is able to look back and reflect on how her father spent his final days, and the role she and her family played in making those days the best they could be. Everything, from the late-night call to a Good Samaritan Hospice nurse on Christmas Eve to the genuine sympathy given to her mother and family, comes flooding back.
"Good Samaritan Hospice care far exceeded our expectations," Donna said. "They not only provided care and monitoring, but someone was always available to answer any questions we had? We could not have handled Dad's passing the way we did without Good Samaritan."