Home Hospice: One Patient’s Story of Care and Friendship

Mona Bartz’s Sunday School class calls her most Sunday mornings to sing a hymn with her over the phone. The 74-year-old hospice patient hasn’t let a terminal cancer diagnosis derail her bubbly personality that connects with everyone she comes in contact with – including her Memorial Home Services – Hospice team.

Shelley Gray, RN, visits Mona once to twice a week to check her vitals, adjust medications and catch up on the latest grandkid and great-grandkid news.

“Mona is a wonderful person, and I so enjoy my visits with her,” Shelley said. “My main focus is to maintain her symptoms by adjusting medications as needed. She was pretty miserable when she was first admitted to the program but fortunately, with some work, we have been able to have pretty good control over her symptoms for now.”

Hospice services feature a team approach including:

  • A social worker to coordinate additional support services in the home if necessary, help facilitate end-of-life paperwork and contact hospice providers in other areas when patient travels to visit family or friends
  • An RN for regular weekly home visits
  • A hospice chaplain to provide spiritual and emotional support
  • Home Health aides to assist with daily care needs
  • Trained volunteers for companionship
  • Grief support for family and loved ones
  • Hospice physicians for expertise and guidance in the hospice plan of care

As a result, Mona is able to travel north to see her grandkids more and has maintained her independence living at home with family nearby. Jan Costello, hospice chaplain with Memorial Home Services Hospice, also visits Mona regularly and delights in their conversations – and her cherry pie.

“We all love coming to see Mona,” Jan said. “We’ll have pie and coffee, talk about fun things. She takes good care of all of us, and we’ve said a lot of prayers together.”

Mona grew up in Bardstown, Kentucky, before moving to Illinois as a young adult. She loves flowers – especially lilacs in the spring. She still plays the piano, attends church on occasion when she feels good and bakes a cherry pie that’s “out of this world” according to Costello. Memorial’s Home Services – Hospice team has helped her stay on top of her symptoms.

“The only thing about having cancer in the head is that I forget stuff,” Mona said. “And I get tired a lot quicker. Shelley is very thorough and very knowledgeable, which helps.”

“Though her overall prognosis is terminal, she is able to enjoy her remaining weeks and months,” Gray said. “As with Mona, one of the best parts of my job is I get to become part of the family for the time I have with them.”

Memorial Home Services – Hospice is not a place but rather a comprehensive and coordinated program that offers compassionate care to the terminally ill and their families. For more information, call 217-788-4663 or 800-582-8667.