The Right Direction

Updated on June 24, 2013

By Rafael J. Sciullo, MA, LCSW, MS

Every day brings change of some sort. And that’s fine, provided we have the direction to keep us focused on the tasks at hand. On a recent Tuesday morning, change was in the air. Snow flurries drifted softly to the ground – and although the calendar said it was still autumn, winter was clearly knocking on the door.

On that same morning, a staffer walked out of his office and proceeded down the hall. He noticed a woman at the other end, seemingly in need of direction. Her coat was still buttoned up as she had just come in from the parking lot at our Center for Compassionate Care in Mt. Lebanon.

“Do you need some help ma’am?” our Family Hospice staffer asked.

“Yes, I’m looking for the Magnolia room,” she replied.

The Celebration of Life Wall at The Center for Compassionate Care in Mt. Lebanon
The Celebration of Life Wall at The Center for Compassionate Care in Mt. Lebanon

At our Family Hospice and Palliative Care inpatient centers, patient rooms bear the names of trees, to reflect a setting inspired by nature.

Our staffer explained to the woman that she simply was on the wrong floor – in the business office area instead of the inpatient floor. He learned that she was here to meet a family member. Their loved one passed away overnight.

“Allow me to take you to our nurses’ station and they will get you in touch with your loved one,” he explained.  “I’ll stay with you until I know you are where you need to be.”

They entered the elevator. Our staffer pushed the button for the appropriate floor, then he turned to the woman, saying, “I’m very sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you, so much,” she replied.  “But it’s OK, I’m really glad she was here when she died. This place is so peaceful  – and she was comfortable.  And the whole staff was so compassionate, they were really wonderful.”

The woman went onto explain how the social worker at her loved one’s long term care facility recommended Family Hospice when symptoms began to get unmanageable. The right people provided direction when it was most needed. And thanks to that team effort, this woman’s loved one died comfortably and pain-free.

This year has been one of positive direction for Family Hospice and Palliative Care.

In February, we opened our new inpatient unit in Lawrenceville, The Center for Compassionate Care/Canterbury, on the campus of Canterbury Place. It brings our inpatient care to the heart of the city.

In July, we welcomed hundreds of visitors as a featured stop on the Mt. Lebanon Public Library Garden Tour. We were proud to share the beauty of the garden courtyards at The Center for Compassionate Care in Mt. Lebanon.

In September, we moved our Annual Memorial Walk to a new home at North Shore Riverfront Park, next to Jerome’s Bettis’ Grille 36. Many of those we had lost over the last year were remembered in a special way.

And in November, we unveiled The Celebration of Life Wall at The Center for Compassionate Care. This beautiful permanent granite structure memorializes those who have died.  For donations of $1,000, names will continuously be added each spring and fall.

At Family Hospice, we cherish the opportunity to provide direction, whether it be in end-of-life care, in ways to honor those we love, or just helping someone find their way when visiting as our guest.

No matter the changes that occur, we at Family Hospice hope you always find the direction you need in the coming year.

Rafael J. Sciullo, MA, LCSW, MS, is President and CEO of Family Hospice and Palliative Care and Past Chairperson of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. He may be reached at [email protected] or (412) 572-8800. Family Hospice and Palliative Care serves nine counties in Western Pennsylvania. More information at and


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