As a nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), I have witnessed death before, but I will always remember the care your staff gave to my wife’s grandmother. Having experienced her passing as a family member really has opened my eyes and made me very proud to be a part of this hospital. The Sisters’ Mission of “the greatest care and love” was carried out.
I received the call that our grandmother, Cathy, was doing poorly. Luckily I was already near the hospital and the rest of the family were on their way. When I walked into her room I was happy to see three special nurses at the bedside holding her hands. Dr Martin, the palliative care specialist, had been notified and arrived shortly; he did a great job explaining to my family what exactly was going on and how to proceed in making her comfortable.
Sister Jackie arrived and started to sing “Amazing Grace” which comforted the patient, myself and family. The charge nurse who was present the entire time was very compassionate. Velma from housekeeping came into the room and joined Sister Jackie in song. It was then that Cathy took her last breath. She could finally be with Kenneth, her husband of 62 years: he had passed away a few months before and she wanted to join him.
I am so glad and sad this day had come. I am so grateful that Cathy was here at this hospital, surrounded by people who loved her. Those people were her family and the OSF staff. It really amazed me to see the bond that was made between the nursing staff, patient and family in such a short period of time.
Five years had passed since John was diagnosed with a chronic progressive disease. Initially he managed his condition fairly well. He had six children between the ages of 50 and 60 years old. Three lived nearby and three were out of state.
John's physician encouraged him to consider advance care planning, but he refused, saying his children could speak for him should the need arise. During his last year he experienced several hospitalizations and spent many days in the Intensive Care Unit.
One day he was brought into the Emergency Room unconscious with severe problems. Three days later he remained unconscious and unable to make decisions for his care.
His children all arrived in the hospital, but could not agree on the care decisions their dad would have made. One month later he died while still in the Intensive Care Unit.
The family remained at odds during the entire time and even at his funeral would not sit together or speak to each other. John would have been distressed if he had known the effect not having an advance care plan would have on his family.
After battling a serious illness years ago, Louise knew that advance care planning was "something I needed to do for a long time."
So when the opportunity arose, she was eager to respond. "I really didn’t know what to expect, but I did bring a very close friend along, as suggested. We just went through some questions, and it was all so simple, a wonderful experience. After putting it off for so long, it got me moving."
"It was a great opportunity to get things taken care of, and I’ll be forever grateful. It took so much weight off my shoulders."
Jill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She had no children and was widowed. On one of Jill's visits to her oncologist, she took her brother and sister-in-law.
Together they discussed her prognosis and treatment options with the oncologist, and began a discussion about what her care wishes were for the future. Over the next month she continued these discussions with her family and physician.
She completed her Power of Attorney for Health Care form and named her brother as her Health Care Agent. She was admitted to the hospice program and the hospice team worked closely with her physician to manage her care.
She continued to decline over the next few months and was admitted to the hospital a few days before she died. Her family was at her bedside and pastoral care provided her family with spiritual support.
Although Jill was unresponsive the last 48 hours of her life, her care decisions were followed. The family was at peace knowing the care Jill received was exactly what she would have wanted.
Jackie was a healthy 41-year-old woman on her way to work one day when a car attempting to pass from the other direction hit her vehicle head-on.
She arrived in the Emergency Room in critical condition. Her husband and two daughters arrived at the hospital to find her in intensive care and unconscious with several injuries.
Over the next two weeks they were faced with many difficult care decisions. Jackie did not have any advance directives and had not talked to her family about decisions she would want in a condition such as this.
Consequently, the family struggled with each care decision they had to make for her. At the family’s request, a hospital ethics committee consult was provided to help the family make these difficult decisions.
Not only did the family have to deal with the stress of Jackie's critical condition but also with the stress of whether or not they made the health care decisions she would have wanted.