Calvary@Home is a growing mission still trying to get its word out to share its services with patients and their families.
The program cared for 3,222 patients in 2018, compared to the 3,015 hospice and home care patients it served in 2017.
Eight beds were added in 2018 to the existing 10 beds at The Dawn Greene Hospice at Mary Manning Walsh Home in Manhattan, a facility that cared for over 700 patients between 2015 and 2017. Four additional beds will be available soon at Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home in Bayside, giving Ozanam Hall 13 beds.
“We’ve had so many different projects that we’ve done over the course of years that I still believe there are more projects to do,” Dr. Gail Chrzanowski, M.D., medical director for The Dawn Greene Hospice, told CNY.
Hospice home patients are no longer receiving curative treatments and are treated by Calvary staff at wherever their residence is—home, apartment, nursing home, assisted living home, homeless shelter or prison. A nurse, social worker and someone in spiritual care will visit the patient and their family as often as needed. A doctor will visit to evaluate patients and when asked to see the patient by the nurse.
“We will go to wherever the patient is,” said Carmel Monahan, R.N., director of patient services for Calvary@Home. “They direct a lot of the planned care. It’s their wishes and we’re trying to fulfill them. We will not do anything to hasten their death or prolong it. It’s about the patient and their end of life wishes.”
Patients whose pain and symptoms cannot be managed at home will become inpatients at one of Calvary’s four hospice facilities—Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, Calvary Brooklyn Campus, Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home and The Dawn Greene Hospice.
Dr. Chrzanowski said patients are often referred to hospice too late to live comfortably for more than a few days.
“Most patients come to hospice too late and don’t have benefit of what good care can be at the end,” she said. “The length of stay is very, very short. We have to try get the word out there is another option that should you choose to be maintained very comfortably.”
Dr. Chrzanowski added that patients, if they choose, may leave hospice to try a new treatment for a possible cure.
“Hospice decisions are made by the patient and their family,” she said. “You don’t sign a contract. You have a right to make your decisions, and hospice will take you back.”
The program dates back to 1985 with the start of the Calvary Home Health Agency. In 1998, Calvary started offering home hospice care. Home health and home hospice were merged in 2002, becoming Calvary@Home to serve patients throughout the metropolitan New York area. Calvary@Home began offering palliative home care in 2010.
Calvary Hospital also offers bereavement support services in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan with groups for adults, children (ages 6-9), tweens (10-12) and teens (13-17).
Carolyn Migliore, a 62-year-old parishioner of St. Monica’s in Manhattan, has been a nurse for 42 years. Her mother, Vivian, was living in Atlanta when she was diagnosed with cancer. Knowing her mom’s wish was to return to New York, Carolyn went down to Atlanta to bring her back to New York and The Dawn Greene Hospice. Her mom passed away about three weeks after returning to New York in 2015.
“As a nurse I could not have given my mother better care,” said Ms. Migliore. “It was clean with all private rooms. They allowed me to stay day and night with her. They allowed me to bring my dog to visit her. The few times I could not be there, I knew she was safe and knew she was being well taken care of. Even when she was not responsive, we had a Catholic priest there every day. That was important to us.”
Ms. Migliore praised the staff.
“They know how to take care of patients and family members,” she said. “It takes very dedicated special individuals to work there. I could not do it. Your patients don’t get better or go home. They help them die in the most humane way possible.”
Arlene Grauer, a 71-year-old parishioner of St. Benedict’s in the Bronx, watched her mother, Eleanor Grauer, and aunt, Dorothy Grauer, go through Calvary’s hospice care.
Given care at home, Dorothy died at the age of 94 in 2011 in the home where she lived since she was 8 years old.
Eleanor was given a few weeks to live when Calvary’s hospice program began treating her at Providence Rest in the Bronx, taking her off a restricted diet and allowing her to enjoy Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Eleanor lived nine months under hospice care before dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 93 in 2004.
“She was so much comfortable. It was unbelievable,” said Arlene.
“I was in a state of panic and had no idea how to handle the dying process. They took care of me, too. It was the most phenomenal thing. It was like angels came in, wrapped their arms around me and made things so much easier.”