Gateway Hospice—Helping Families Embrace Life

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By Kathleen Ganster

It was the feeling that all too many people face these days. In her own words, Phyllis Dominici felt like she “wasn’t going to make it one more day. I was so exhausted.”

Dominici and her sister, Patti Owens, were taking care of their mother, Francis Rozicky who had Alzheimer’s disease. Although Mrs. Rozicky was in a nursing home, the two would visit every day, making sure all of her needs were met.

“We were both working full-time and I remember I was trying to pick up a gift for my grand-daughter’s birthday, and I was trying to get to the home. It was just too much,” Dominici said.

But despite their exhaustion and their mother’s condition, hospice care never occurred to the sisters.

“When we spoke with Gateway, I said, ‘On no. She doesn’t have her mind, but the doctors have told us she will live at least a few more years,” Dominici said.

Dominici learned from Gateway Hospice that a patient and her family can use their services to assist with patients needing hospice care in the final stage of their lives.

And the more she learned, the better Gateway Hospice services sounded to Dominici.

“My sister and I thought it sounded too good to be true,” she laughed.

Even though Dominici was nervous, the sisters knew they could use the help and soon, Gateway was assisting the women.

“For my mother, they were just like having another daughter. They were our set of eyes when we couldn’t be there,” she said.

Gateway health care providers gave Dominici’s mother the additional care that ensured she was comfortable during her remaining days.

“With Alzheimer’s, they can’t tell you how they feel or the last time someone gave them a bath. With Gateway, they were coming to us and telling us our mother’s needs. We weren’t going to them telling them what our mother needed,” she said.

Also important to the sisters was the manner that the Gateway healthcare providers worked with them. When they thought her mother would benefit from additional or varied services, the healthcare providers would discuss the situation with them and see what the sisters wanted to do, then act as a liaison with the nursing home.

“It took a lot of stress off of us,” Dominici said.
Dominici gave the example that her mother needed change in her diet, something the she and her sister never would have known.

“They told us our mother needed more fiber in her diet and addressed it with the home,” she said.

Perhaps the most important factor to Dominici was the type of care that Gateway provided to her mother.

“They treated her as if she was their loved one. It wasn’t like it was just a job to them,” she said.

When her mother passed away, several of her healthcare workers came to the funeral.

“Like I said, they were like other daughters for my mother,” Dominici said.

Mary Tobin, COO of Gateway said hospice isn’t for every caregiver.

“I think hospice is a unique experience. It takes additional education and knowledge. It’s not for everyone,” said Tobin.

When Gateway is hiring hospice workers, they try to find someone that not only is an excellent caregiver, but one who fits the organization.

“We want them to fit into the culture of our Gateway family,” Tobin said.

It is an aspect that Dominici agrees with. “It takes a special kind of person to be in hospice care,” she said.

And for Dominici and her sister, Gateway Hospice caregivers made a world of difference to them in the last stage of their mother’s life.

“Gateway gave us peace of mind. We knew our mother was getting wonderful care and we were able to rest easy,” Dominici said.

For more information, visit www.gatewayhospice.com.