LMH caring eases end of life

May 22, 2010


I am a registered nurse. I am an operating room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. I am privileged to have been employed there since 1972. I am writing to tell this community how blessed we are for every person that works at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and for the fantastic place it is to both work and to receive care.

Clearly, I love my career and where I work. From my immediate supervisor and the administration to all of my colleagues, I simply could not be happier. This is my home and one of my families.

My husband, Jimmy, died just a short while ago at Lawrence Memorial. Jimmy had suffered with diabetes and every ramification that this disease causes to so many body organs. Over the past 25 years with this disease, we have been involved with almost every department at LMH. He had been hospitalized on the medical floor and the Intensive Care Unit many times in recent years. He had come to LMH on a very regular basis for outpatient tests.

Every experience has been one that any hospital should be proud of. Every nurse, every therapist, every laboratory technician, every radiology technician, every doctor has preformed his or her job well and with professionalism. These people also have an incredible capacity for caring and compassion.

This past March, Jim was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He had been hospitalized for three weeks in February and had been home for only a few weeks when he returned by ambulance with a critically low oxygen level. He went from the Emergency Department to Intensive Care. The doctors tried to “fix” him. In only a couple of days it became apparent that Jim was not coming home this time.

Now, there is a very big room in ICU at LMH and I had passed it many times, wondering, “what do they need that for?” Well, I found out. This room is used for palliative care; when medical intervention is no longer helping and all the family and patient are aware that death is imminent.

I lay with Jim much of that day. All of our family and many friends were there. Everyone had a chance to say goodbye to Jimmy. The nurses continued to bring in chairs as people arrived. The hospital provided a “care cart” loaded with food and drinks for everyone. The staff quietly came in throughout the day and evening to administer care to be sure that Jim was comfortable. They always asked us if we needed anything.

At times I think we may have been a bit loud. We had kind of a surreal combination of tears and laughter. We told of our wonderful memories of Jimmy. Jim didn’t talk to us but he did hear us. In the very early hours of Friday, April 9, with just a few people left, Jimmy quietly slipped away. I know he was at peace and comfortable.

I thank the incredible people who cared for Jimmy. I can’t overstate how their compassion and caring helped us through Jim’s journey to death. I also want to thank my supervisor, the people in human resources, the administration and my family of friends and colleagues for their support throughout Jim’s illness; and before and after his death.

How lucky and blessed is Lawrence to have Lawrence Memorial Hospital in our city. Thank you to everyone.


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