Anna Torres was at a crossroads last summer. The cheerful 80-year-old was hospitalized with severe medical challenges that required difficult decisions about her future. But thanks to extensive support from Samaritan, Anna is now living comfortably with close relatives, enjoying each day with friends and family.
Although disabled by a major stroke and unable to walk for the past 20 years, Anna has remained a “joyous, happy person,” notes daughter Marie Ann Stewart.
Then last June, the Cherry Hill great-grandmother could no longer swallow food safely – without some of it passing into her lungs. The family had to decide whether to proceed with a feeding tube, as they prepared to watch their beloved mother spend her remaining days in hospital rooms, without even the pleasure of eating.
“In late fall, someone suggested hospice care services,” recalls Marie Ann, “but I thought that was when they send people to die.”
She and her family soon learned the truth: that hospice care in south jersey is really about how best to live with a serious or terminal condition.
A Samaritan hospice team member met with the family in Anna’s hospital room, and immediately began connecting them with the supports they would need to care for Anna in the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Pete and Nora Torres. When the family decided to go ahead with the feeding tube, Samaritan provided training and assistance to Nora – Anna’s main caregiver – so she can keep the device clean and safe.
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Samaritan certified home health aides visit the Torres’s home to bathe and dress Anna, transfer her from bed to chair, change her bed linens, bring healthcare supplies, and enable Nora to take breaks from caregiving. A Samaritan nurse visits regularly to check Anna’s health and wellbeing. And volunteers are available to provide companionship by phone or in person.
“We appreciate the one-on-one personal care,” says Marie Ann, the youngest of Anna’s five children. “Mom loves the staff. They treat her with kindness and respect. But the most important thing to Mom is that she’s in the comfort of home; that’s been the best thing that’s happened to her.”
In addition, Samaritan has made life easier for Anna’s caregivers and her other children, says Marie Ann. “There’s great comfort in knowing their medical staff is just a phone call away.”
While Anna’s family is presently caring for her at home, some patients, during their hospice journey, may require brief periods of inpatient hospice care due to severe pain or other symptoms.
Eleven months before Anna started receiving Samaritan’s care, Marie Ann’s financial advisor informed her about opportunities to support Samaritan’s new inpatient facility– the Samaritan Center at Voorhees.
Impressed with the center’s peaceful, homelike setting for patients and their loved ones, she was moved to make a donation – dedicating one of the center’s 18 patient rooms – to help ensure other families can receive Samaritan’s inpatient level of services when needed.
“I think it’s a great program,” says the Marie Ann, who co-owns and operates an energy-related business. “The more I learned about it, I felt compelled to assist. It’s a great way to give back to the community.”
And now, with her family’s first-hand experience, Marie Ann can offer a very personal testimonial.
“We can’t say enough about Samaritan,” she states. “The staff is amazing; they make everyone feel so comfortable. My mom is very happy with the program!”