Archive for SNF

Why Am I Still Alive?

Alive“Why am I still alive?”

Madge repeated the question, again and again.

Did she ask that question on my first ever visit to a convalescent hospital? Probably not, but it’s the first I recall as a young minister. A twenty-something clergy, just appointed associate pastor at a suburban church, nearly everything in ministry was a new experience. I fumbled through serving communion. I over-prepared for sermons. I felt like the kids in youth group knew more than I did, and definitely outnumbered me. My boss, with decades of church work behind him, was a kind man and excellent senior pastor.

In the beginnings of our work together, he took me on visits, introducing me to the congregation. I entered homes, apartments, emergency rooms, hospitals, job sites, lunched at restaurants with church members, and . . . went to convalescent facilities.

The last was the worst. Well, maybe I should say toughest. No, both. Read More →

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You’ll Accompany Me

BSE45854He was at home.

He was with his family.

His wife, who he said he loved more than life itself, sat by his side.

He had a good death.

Because he enjoyed rock and roll, a lot of music played during his final days at home. Several years from turning fifty, he was young. In those last moments, in those last breaths, there was one particular song that . . .

But I’m getting ahead of the story. It’s a story with a sad ending because a young man dies. It’s also a story with a good enough ending, because of those four opening sentences. How I wish everyone’s death (old or young, rich or poor) had some version of those simple, blessed opening sentences. That won’t happen. Some deaths are hard. Some deaths strip a person or family from any opportunity to prepare or plan. Sometimes we deny impending death and then find ourselves grieving not just the person, but our own blindness or stubbornness. Read More →

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Speak Up!

It's always nice and easy to share with "Friends" and others. Or is it . . .?

It’s always nice and easy to share with “Friends” and others. Or is it . . .?

Instead of visiting homes to provide care, one of our hospice nurses is assigned to patients in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). SNFs are also known as convalescent hospitals, nursing homes or the-place-no-one-wants-to-be. Sometimes Keon—let’s give that name to our friendly nurse—will also tend to a patient at an ALF, or Assisted Living Facility.

Mostly, though, it’s a SNF. The patients aren’t doing well. Even before they neared death, they likely had other injuries or illnesses that required serious, ongoing medical attention. While no longer able to stay in a hospital, they were far too serious to consider going home.

But kindly Keon, either by mistake and design, was assigned several patients at home.

Just before the start of a team meeting, Keon joked with other staff and said, “Today I had a patient talk back to me and hardly knew what to do.”

Whoa! A patient spoke! The majority of Keon’s SNF patients were too ill to speak. But in a home, with family and friends helping, the patient will happily give feedback. Or angrily give feedback. The patient (and you and I) can choose from a long list of feelings for answering questions or sharing opinions:  beyond happy and angry, there’s sad, scared, confused, offended, irked, aroused, two-faced, pleasant and . . . oh, how endless is the list. Endless and complex. Read More →

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