For many, there’s nothing as mysterious as the end of life. It’s a time that most of us don’t want to think about for our loved ones or ourselves. Then, something happens — a shocking prognosis, a disease takes root, aging parents need extra care.
In these situations, home care and hospice is meant to be an ally to help both patient and family.
When Harold Kreischer of Van Wert became terminally ill, his wife, Sherry, found the care he required and the reassurance she needed through Community Health Professionals (CHP) Hospice.
CHP enabled the Kreischers to do what was most important to them both – keep Harold at home for as long as possible.
“I can’t praise them enough,” said Sherry Kreischer. “The nurses were so comforting and reassuring. We had him home for three months, which is where he wanted to be.”
Kreischer was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in May 2018. At that time, staff at Parkview Hospital told the couple that things were changing and they did, according to Mrs. Kreischer.
Throughout the next year Mr. Kreischer remained at home, but was in and out of the nursing home for short stints. In April of this year, he was admitted to palliative care at Vancrest through CHP, because he was not suitable yet for hospice.
Palliative care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms of disease, including pain, and physical and mental stress at any stage of illness. It is a resource for patients living with a serious illness, like COPD and other conditions such as heart failure, cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and many others.
In May, Mr. Kreischer returned home and transitioned to hospice care.
“Hospice was the best choice for us,” Mrs. Kreischer said. “He was a fighter, but there came a time when we couldn’t fight anymore and we needed to focus on comfort and peace.”
A team of nurses, aide, and social worker from CHP Hospice provided regular visits in the home to check on Harold, bathe him, and take care of his needs. Equally important though was the encouragement that Mrs. Kreischer received.
“If I had questions or was down, they’d address my questions, let me know what to expect, and tell me that I was strong and I could do this,” she said.
Kreischer also found short-term respite stays at Van Wert Manor to be very helpful. Hospice Medicare benefits cover a single, 5-day respite session per billing period at a Medicare-certified nursing facility. This offers a family or caregiver a short reprieve from the demands of around-the-clock care.
“Van Wert Manor was so good caring for him and bathing him,” Kreisher said. “The hospice nurses from CHP came in too.” She used the respite to attend appointments, take care of errands and other family business, and to rest physically and emotionally.
Kreischer said she was always glad to have Harold back at home though. “He couldn’t talk much, but he was here with me.”
In August, Mr. Kreischer fell at home and the local on-call nurse from CHP was there in about 10 minutes to help get him up and to soothe Mrs. Kreischer. Shortly after falling, Mr. Kreischer was transferred to Van Wert Manor where he continued on hospice care with CHP until his passing on August 30.
“He was so strong, he died the day after our 32nd wedding anniversary,” Mrs. Kreischer said. “I think he was holding on to make it past that date.”
In the months since his passing, CHP Hospice continues to provide care for Mrs. Kreischer. “The hospice social worker calls to let me know I’m going to be okay and that it’s okay to grieve and heal,” she said.
Kreischer is also going to begin attending the bereavement support group offered by CHP on the second Saturday of each month at the Adult Day Center in Van Wert.
“The Kreischers are an example of how hospice care benefits the family as much as the patient,” said Cindy Sinning, RN, nursing supervisor for CHP Home Care & Hospice of Van Wert. “That’s because hospice is not a ‘place’ – it’s a philosophy of care that focuses on the entire family.”
Mrs. Kreischer remembers her husband as a tough factory worker and farmer, but also a kind, and gentle man.
“I miss him so much, but CHP Hospice has been there for me through the whole thing,” she said. “They took such good care of me and my Harold.”