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Honoring Father’s Wish for Comfort at Home

At 90, JoAnn Tomarchio’s father was feeling as well as could be expected. But suddenly, just before Christmas, his health turned and in just days he went from the emergency department to the ICU. JoAnn was shocked and unprepared to find herself at her father’s hospital bed as a priest administered the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

“His wish was to come home, even for one day,” JoAnn remembers. The family was determined to honor that wish, but recognized they would need help – so they called Samaritan.

Samaritan nurses settled JoAnn’s father at home, making him comfortable. JoAnn recalls how the nurses worked to help her family understand their father’s prognosis, what his needs were and what their supporting roles would be. “They were experienced, caring, gentle – outstanding,” she says.

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JoAnn and her family worried about the awesome responsibility of caregiving, especially administering their father’s medication. “We were apprehensive, but we knew we had to help my father stay calm and comfortable,” JoAnn says. The nurses spent time getting to know the family and putting them at ease. “When one nurse found out I had three college degrees, she said if I could accomplish that, I could surely administer my dad’s medications,” JoAnn says. “So I did.”

After several days at home with the help of Samaritan, JoAnn’s father passed away early in the morning on Christmas day. “I thought, ‘Are they really going to come here at this hour on Christmas day?’” JoAnn wondered about calling Samaritan at 2 a.m. Her question was answered swiftly – a Samaritan nurse arrived on her doorstep at 2:30 a.m. to help the family with the passing.

Looking back, JoAnn, who recently reconnected with Samaritan through her involvement with the United Way, is grateful for Samaritan’s guidance and presence, especially at the holidays. “I firmly believe we did everything possible to help my dad die in peace, at home,” she says.

If you live in South Jersey and are interested in hospice care for your loved one, call Samaritan at (800) 229-8183.