A lengthy list of ailments had plagued Shirley Brown the last five years. Colon cancer, which spread to her liver. A blood clot in her lung. Two brain tumors. Surgeries and multiple hospital stays.
They may not typically wear red capes. But staff and volunteers of Loving Care Hospice are considered super heroes by the families they serve. Here, Jason Lambert (in cape) and Aimee Blumenschein (back) provide support for patient Shirley Brown and her family.
“It’s not so bad,” said the resilient 79-year old Marysville resident with a sincere smile on her face three weeks before she passed away this summer. “God is good and everything is taken care of, so I don’t have to worry about it. I have a good family.”
With Chuck, her husband of 59 years by her side, along with two loving children, three grandkids, and one adorable great-granddaughter, she also had the help of Loving Care Hospice/Home Health in her home nearly every step of the way. Brown, was a retired middle school teacher and basketball/track coach at North Union. But with faith, family, and Loving Care staff as her support system, Shirley maintained a positive attitude through her suffering and continues to be an inspiration, according to her granddaughter, Ashley Hicks.
“There’s a Gordon B. Hinckley quote, ‘Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.’ This has been the mantra for our family,” Ashley said. “Grandma and Grandpa have always been serving other people. That’s always been their life mission. When you focus on serving others, the things that are happening to you don’t seem that bad. That’s why Grandma could be so positive. Because she was always worried about taking care of us.”
Counting each day as a blessing, Shirley lived a lot longer than her doctor expected.
“I told Grandma, ‘You’re going to have to stick around. I have something special for you!’” Hicks teased when she called to announce her big news of the pending birth of her great-granddaughter Amelia two years ago. Shirley was able to play with Amelia and even made the 100-mile trip to the baby’s dedication at church.
Earlier this year, Shirley no longer qualified for Home Health Care and needed palliative care to be provided by Loving Care Hospice. That’s where your United Way donor dollars kicked in. United Way provided nearly $30,000 in Palliative Care to area residents this year alone, with a goal of symptom management to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, keep patients comfortable at home, and connect families to other needed resources that are available in the community. Both a licensed social worker and registered nurse regularly visit families in the program helping with symptom management and supportive care.
Loving Care Hospice volunteers assist at a recent event. Clients describe Loving Care as “an organization of angels.”
“The patients are definitely the reason I do this,” said Aimee Blumenschein, the nurse working with the Brown family for the past year. “I feel like I’ve been with the Browns for years. They’ve welcomed me like a part of their family and were open to everything we talked about. Faith-building, trying to see the bigger picture, trying to be realistic about Shirley’s condition, accepting all of the avenues we discussed with them.”
“Focusing on symptom management and connecting families with community resources is a big part of our palliative program,” said Jason Lambert, MSW, social worker for Loving Care. “Without United Way dollars, we could not provide this support for our patients.”
The Browns are not alone in their praise of this program, which impacts residents of all socio-economic backgrounds.
“No matter how ruggedly independent we all think that we are, there will come a day when we will need help,” said life-long Union County resident Jim Schrader, who owns his own company, Technology Site Planners. “That day came for my family when we needed help in my father’s final days. Loving Care Hospice is an organization of angels that receives part of their funding from United Way of Union County. The ladies from Loving Care allowed us to be able to keep my father at home longer and gave my mother extra help in our time of need.”
Chuck Brown, who says he always pledged the suggested United Way gift amount during the annual campaign throughout his career says he too never expected to be the recipient of services. He says Loving Care is always there whenever they call to assist with anything. And while the nurses and staff at Loving Care provide the actual service, they say they too are rewarded for their work.
“You get the chance to get to know the patients and their families,” said Blumenschein, a 20-year veteran in the medical field, but first-year Loving Care nurse. “This gives me the opportunity to help them emotionally and medically, though their journey. God’s opened the doors for me to be here, and this little piece I can give back is 100 percent perfect for me.”