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Celebrate Excellent Care

Beebe’s Palliative Care Program Improves Quality of Life

By Mary Ellen South

A caring support team is important when someone faces a serious or chronic illness. So was the case for Arneva Wolfe. Arneva had lived independently at her home in Dagsboro since the death of her husband in July, 2017. In March of the following year, she fell and fractured her skull. She was treated for her injury and then went to live with her daughter, Joyce, in Greenwood. She could no longer drive, so plans were made to sell her home.

During the next several months, she suffered several urinary tract infections which finally landed her in the hospital in early December, 2018. She had also begun suffering seizures. As part of her care, she was moved to a rehabilitation facility where she began to seriously decline. She was then brought to Beebe Healthcare and the Palliative Care Team met with her daughters to discuss what would be best for their mother’s care. Arneva wasn’t eating and fought to remove her oxygen and IVs. The daughters agreed that the plan was to honor their mother’s wishes.

Dr. Katie Johnson, medical director for Beebe’s Palliative Care Program, leads the Palliative Care Team, which includes a nurse practitioner, patient advocate team, social worker, and two chaplains. Palliative care is patient and family centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual needs associated with serious or chronic disease. The Palliative Care Team worked with Arneva’s daughters to come up with a plan to honor her final wishes.

“Arneva’s daughters shared with us their mom’s values and beliefs. Together, we developed a plan of care they felt would meet their mother’s wishes. They served as admirable advocates for their mom in a time when she needed them most,” said Kiernan Quay, DNP, APRN, FNP-C. A nurse stayed with Arneva so that her daughters, Joyce, Debbie, and Rita, could get home and go to work in between shifts of caring for their mother. The Palliative Care Team took great care of Arneva and her family, providing what they needed and supporting them in many ways. All the while, the Palliative Care Team coordinated the service of all the medical providers. They assisted the family with making medical decisions and coping with emotions and exhaustion, which accompanied caring for their loved one.

Joyce remembers the day the Palliative Care Team met with them. She was having difficulty believing what was happening. “I was sure my mom would bounce back just like she always did. She was such a strong person. Even when she lived with me after her fall, she could cook, do laundry, and sweep every day. She was a tiny person but very strong and hard-working. She even took care of my dad when he suffered from dementia the last year of his life,” said Joyce. But she did not bounce back this time. Arneva spent the last week of her life at Beebe and passed on December 20, with her daughters by her side.

Arvena had worked at Beebe Healthcare in the dietary department until she retired. Her daughters made the decision that in memory of her life and her final care, donations could be made to Beebe Medical Foundation for Beebe Healthcare’s Palliative Care Program.

Beebe’s experienced Palliative Care Team provides compassionate inpatient and outpatient treatment. The team serves as a liaison among patients, families, and healthcare providers. Beebe Healthcare is a member of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, the nation’s leading resource for this type of care.

Palliative care is an umbrella term that encompasses hospice, but not everyone on palliative care is on hospice. Palliative care can start on day one of a diagnosis where the goal is often to seek a cure. Hospice care begins when a person has six months or less to live, if the illness takes its natural course, and they shift their focus to comfort and quality of life rather than quantity. Beebe’s Palliative Care Team helps with long-term, advanced illness planning and with transitions to hospice care. “Palliative care is an adjunct to a patient’s regular medical care. It helps support a patient and their family through illness planning and decision making as well as provide a psychosocial and spiritual support system,” said Dr. Johnson.

For more information about Beebe’s Palliative Care Program or to arrange for a Palliative Care Consultation, please call (302) 645-3150 or go to www.beebehealthcare.org/palliative-care.

As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts to Beebe Healthcare, large or small, are tax-deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Gifts can be designated to specific programs such as the Palliative Care Program in memory of a loved one. Please consider making a gift today and sharing your story with our community. To make your donation or to learn more about Celebrate Excellent Care, go online to www.beebemedicalfoundation.org or contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to foundation@beebehealthcare.org.

Photo caption: Daughters Joyce Wooters and Debbie Hall met with members of Beebe Healthcare’s Palliative Care Team, Chaplain Keith Goheen, Palliative Care Medical Director Katie Johnson, DO and Kiernan Quay, NP to celebrate the excellent care their mother, Arneva Wolfe, received at the end of her life.