HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s Core Values are Respect, Care, Competence and Joy, and every day, colleagues live out these Values in their encounters with patients and their family members. One recent example of this was shared by the family of a patient who was deeply touched by the care provided by our staff to their loved one. The following is shared with their permission.
It is always extremely difficult for a family when someone they love is in a hospital far away. This was the case for Dwayne Hernandez, whose sister, Mary Darlene (Lena) Carter, was hospitalized at St. Anthony’s in mid-July 2020.
Lena was living in Greenup and had been fighting liver cancer when she was transported to St. Anthony’s with health complications.
Dwayne, who lives in northwest Indiana, had to rely on phone communications with St. Anthony’s staff to check on his sister as he traveled to Effingham. He shared, “From the very start, everyone we dealt with on the phone and in person was always so kind, so nice and understanding.”
Dwayne shared how great Lena’s stay was on the medical/surgical care floor at St. Anthony’s. “She was treated so well and with compassion. And she loved the crucifix that was in her room; she really admired it and joked with me that she was going to steal it to take it home with her.”
Prior to her hospitalization, Lena was planning on moving to Indiana to be closer to her family but doctors determined that there was no further treatment available for her cancer so she would need to go to a nursing home or hospice home. The family wanted to find a place in Indiana so that she could still be near them.
Dwayne explained that they knew finding a place in Indiana that would take Lena’s Illinois insurance would be difficult. But he shared how Erin Mueller, case management facilitator, worked above and beyond for the family.
“Erin was determined to find the right place for my sister. She researched and found a place that was an hour away from my home, which would have been fine. But she kept searching. In fact, one night, she mentioned she was supposed to leave work at 3:30 p.m., but was so determined, she stayed until 6 p.m. to find the right place.” Erin was able to find a hospice home a half hour away from the family, which made it much easier on them to spend time with Lena. Dwayne said, “Erin was so persistent; she didn’t settle – that is so unheard of and touched me deeply. She also was in nearly constant contact with my wife Maureen working out the plans, and often would text her encouraging messages – taking photos of sunsets she would see when walking at night and sending them to Maureen, letting her know that she was thinking of and praying for our family. She was truly an angel to us.”
When Lena was discharged and Dwayne came to pick her up to take her to the hospice home in Indiana, Lena was wheeled out by third floor med/surg nurse Laura Will. As Laura helped her into the car, Dwayne noticed that Lena was holding a sweatshirt in her lap. Then Lena opened the sweatshirt to reveal to Dwayne what she had – the crucifix from her hospital room. Dwayne shared, “I said, ‘Lena! Did you really take that?’ She laughed and said to Laura, ‘I told you he would think I stole it!’ Then with a smile on her face, she told me, ‘No, it is a gift – she gave it to me.’ She held that crucifix in her lap the whole way back to Indiana – a four-hour drive – rubbing it the whole time; it comforted her so much.”
Dwayne shared that the hospice home that Erin found for Lena was a beautiful place, so nice that his sister didn’t think she deserved it. The home also allowed the family to hang the crucifix that Lena loved in her room there. The closeness of the facility to their home allowed Dwayne and the family as much time as possible with Lena in her last days, which unfortunately was not long after she arrived. Dwayne shared, “To the end, she loved that crucifix. I got it down from the wall for her so she could hold it again, and she was clutching it when she passed.”
Through the sorrow of losing his sister, Dwayne wanted to express his gratitude to the entire staff of St. Anthony’s. “You all made it easier for us – through your kindness, your gift, your compassion. From the first phone call to the time we left, it was an incredible experience,” he said. “I know that these are jobs that you hold, but it is more than just a job to you. You really care and you made a difference in the life of my sister and my family. Thank you!”