"From the beginning you could always tell that it was about him and his best care, but it was also about us, as his family." - Leanne Finger
Leanne Finger’s father, Roscoe, a Marine veteran, was in perfect health. At 90 years old, he was still a real “to-doer” and loved to write. He had written his own life story for the family. His only health issue was chronic back pain that he had been living with for a long time.
However, an unexpected series of events landed him at Saint Luke’s East Hospital in June. Roscoe’s medical team carefully evaluated all options. The hospitalist approached the family with the option of hospice care.
Leanne is one of three, the youngest, with a brother and a sister. The family had never really considered hospice because Roscoe didn’t have a chronic health issue. He had been very independent, in good health, and lived alone, in the house the kids grew up in, until this point.
They ultimately decided that they would come to Saint Luke’s Hospice House for his care.
“From the beginning you could always tell that it was about him and his best care, but it was also about us, as his family,” Leanne said. “I was very impressed from the beginning.”
The social worker who met Leanne when they were getting Roscoe settled in immediately asked all about him. From there on, Leanne said the care her dad and family received was beyond what they could have imagined.
“The care was obviously for him, but there was not one staff member who left his room without asking, ‘What can we do for him?’ and immediately following, ‘What can we do for you,’” said Leanne.
“You could tell that it was just about bringing a normalcy to the end-of-life process and making it as regular as you can,” Leanne explained. “They wanted it to be comfortable for him and us and they took so much interest in him.”
The Hospice House bereavement coordinator even planned a veteran’s ceremony for him, where both he and Leanne’s brother, who served in the Vietnam War, received certificates from a fellow veteran for their service.
She mentioned how the staff continuously made suggestions and helped walk the family through different ideas to help make Roscoe as comfortable as possible during his time at Saint Luke’s Hospice House.
“Their knowledge and wealth of resources of end of life was impressive,” she said. “There isn’t a set way, no right or wrong, and it doesn’t always work the same way with every patient.”
Leanne and her siblings appreciated how Saint Luke’s Hospice House managed the pain medication. There were discussions about what the family and Roscoe would want. They talked through options that might keep him alive longer but minimize the pain, or going a little bit deeper into the pain medication and slowly shutting the systems down.
Fortunately, the family had many discussions over the years about what Roscoe would want in his final days and after his passing. Going with the latter option is what Roscoe would have wanted, and that is what the family decided to do.
“It could have gone on for a long time and it didn’t, so I think he was ready,” said Leanne. “We really felt that we were important to his care.”
The day before he passed away, Roscoe was checking things off his list. Saying things like, ‘Make sure the gate is closed,’ and ‘Do you know where my billfold is?’ Leanne felt he might have been in both worlds, struggling with whether he should let go, before everything fell into place.
“It was a wonderful experience and the day before he passed he was joking, laughing, and talking with everyone,” said Leanne, “and that is how we wanted to remember him.”
Roscoe returned home as his loved ones scattered his ashes on his family farm.
The family purchased engraved bricks at Saint Luke’s Hospice House that were laid there in his memory.