A Hospice Story: ‘We couldn’t have gone through this without them.’

Standing on the porch of Dorothy Johnson’s longtime home in Sherman are her daughter, Judy Krell, son, Jim Johnson, and hospice nurse, Shelley Gray.

In June 2011, Dorothy Johnson and her family received startling and sad news. Dorothy, 91, had advanced lung cancer – it was so advanced that her oncologist immediately suggested home hospice care.

Dorothy, a mother of two, grandmother of four and great-grandmother of six, lived by herself in Sherman in the house her father had built when she was 6 years old.

“She always said she was never going to leave Sherman,” said her daughter, Judy Krell.

Thanks to Memorial’s Home Hospice program, she didn’t have to. Dorothy stayed at her home through the summer and fall with the help of several members of the Hospice team, including Shelley Gray, hospice staff nurse; Prairie Eigenmann, hospice volunteer; and Naomi Meister, home health aide. In addition to caring for Dorothy’s medical needs, Gray would sit outside with Dorothy on her front porch — which long had been a gathering place for Dorothy and her nearby family — to visit, and Eigenmann, who had grown up in the area, would as well. With Dorothy at home, it was easy for others in the area to stop by and reminisce in the comfort of home.

By the end of the fall, Dorothy’s children were concerned that she no longer could live alone. Ultimately, the family decided Dorothy would move in with her son and daughter-in-law in Sherman and continued receiving care through Home Hospice. She lived there 13 days before passing away on Dec. 19. On the day she died, the family knew to call Gray, who came to handle the final details and remained with the family until the funeral home arrived.

“It was amazing. I can’t say enough about the hospice program,” Judy said. “We couldn’t have gone through this without them.”

Dorothy’s family was so grateful for the care she received at home that they requested donations in Dorothy’s name be sent to Memorial Medical Center Foundation’s Sharing Wishes Fund, which helps fund the wishes of home hospice patients, such as a small trip or experience they never made the time for prior to becoming ill. The fund received more than $1,600 in Dorothy’s name.

“When Judy delivered the money, she brought it in with a kind card thanking us for the help we had given her mother during her illness,” said Amy Evans, volunteer and community education coordinator. “The outpouring of generosity from Dorothy’s friends and family was overwhelming.”