One Last Wish
She had been ill for months—in bed for weeks. Doctors had done all they could. No medicine or treatment was going to cure her. In short, she would probably die within weeks or months. But she had one wish before she died—to have a new dress and coat and someone to take her to church one last time. Enter Faith Hospice Charity who grants wishes to end-of-life hospice patients. They bought new clothes that fit the lady’s debilitated body and took her to church. A simple but important wish.
According to Wyndi Waggoner, Faith Hospice Charity (FHC) director, their goal is not only to allow a person to die with dignity and in the comfort of their own home, but to grant a last wish if at all possible.
Established in July 2007, FHC’s first priority is to offer services to patients in need of hospice care but cannot afford it. One example of a Faith Hospice patient in need of this service was a 33-year-old woman who, at four months pregnant, was diagnosed with uterine cancer. The young woman, also the mother of a two-year-old, chose to give birth to her baby rather than abort. Six weeks later, hospice was called.
“We do as much for the family as we do for the patient,” said Waggoner. Not only were they able to keep the young mother comfortable in her own home so that she could be with her family, but they helped the overwhelmed husband prepare to care for the babies.
Hospice, which takes on the expense of the prescribed medication of their patients, provides many types of service to the family, ranging from nursing care to reading a book. They also offer a minimum of thirteen months of bereavement services for the family after the death of the patient.
In the short time that FHC has been in existence, they have granted five end-of-life wishes. One gentleman wanted to meet Toby Keith or Bob Stoops. The wish was quickly put into motion with a meeting time and place set up, but the gentleman was too weak to attend the meeting. The celebrity coach and singer signed memorabilia and the players signed a couple of footballs which the patient was able to see presented to his two grandsons.
“These aren’t huge wishes,” said Waggoner. “It’s not like they are asking for a trip to Hawaii. These people are dying but they have one last thing they wish they could do.” One woman simply wanted to provide her family with Christmas dinner. She didn’t want them fixing it; she wanted to provide a meal at her home for her kids and grandchildren. On Christmas Day, the FHC volunteers went to the lady’s home and placed a meal on the table for her family of ten.
Waggoner points out that hospice care differs from other forms of health care because it addresses not only the needs of the patient, but also the needs of the family or other primary caregivers. “We help patients and families address the significant medical, emotional, psychological and spiritual changes in their lives.”
Each hospice is staffed with a pastor or bereavement counselor, a nurse and social worker. It is usually the nurse, who is with the patient on a daily basis, that learns of the patient’s last wish and calls Faith Hospice Charity, whose motto states: When medical science can add no more days to your life, hospice concentrates on adding more life to each day.
One of the misconceptions that Waggoner has run into is that people think hospice is only for older people. “Every patient is not 80 years old,” she said. “We have people that are 30 and 45. Not everyone is in a nursing home.”
And though every wish may not be granted, FHC does their best. Recently, a gentleman wanted to visit his son in prison, whom he had not seen in thirteen years. But the man was too ill to be in the normal visitation area, which was not air-conditioned. He also needed transportation. Faith Hospice was able to arrange transportation and a special room where the father and son could visit. Two days later, the patient died.
These are the stories that push Wyndi Waggoner to search out funding and volunteers to provide more wishes. And sometimes they do a little extra, even when it isn’t part of their job.
On June 21, Elizabeth Ruckel, who resides at The Lakes Nursing Home in Oklahoma City, celebrated her 100th birthday. Ms. Ruckel wanted a birthday card from the governor. The administrator of the nursing home got in touch with a hospice marketer and FHC made her wish come true, presenting the birthday girl with a Certificate of Accomplishment from the governor on her birthday. Then on June 29, they presented Ms. Ruckel with a personalized birthday certificate from President George and Laura Bush and Mary Fallin.
Though this not within the hospice scope, “it was something that we were happy to get done,” said Waggoner.
For more information about Faith Hospice Charity, a non-profit organization, or to make a donation, visit the web site at www.faithhospices.com, or contact Wyndi Waggoner at [email protected] or 405-213-8880.