Shining a Light on Care in Austin
Hospice Austin, Q3 2020
Nominated by David Baxter:
Reasons: Radhika was no stranger to our family when she was assigned Rose as one of her patients in Hospice Austin’s Palliative Care program – she had been our next-door neighbor for several years and the neighbor known as Aunt Rose had watched Radhika’s young family grow. But in late summer 2020 it came time for Radhika the professional to manage Rose’s transition from patient receiving new and promising care for hereditary amyloidosis to patient who realized her treatment was not working and that her heart continued to weaken. Rose’s physician and nurses at Austin Heart Hospital agreed her treatments had come too late and that it was time for palliative care. As concerned as the Heart Hospital staff might be, it was up to Radhika to come to Rose and shepherd her from promising treatment into palliative care – that care intended to help people manage the symptoms of a serious illness, to make them comfortable and extend their days a bit longer. And Radhika, like all other health-care professionals, had to do this in the time of Covid.
Aside from medication and other treatments, Radhika encouraged Rose to set herself goals, how she aimed to use her remaining time. Rose intended to vote in the November 2020 elections — alas. We had been quarantined for weeks, but Radhika urged us to have small groups of Rose’s family come visit, if just for an hour. Having family near — people Rose had not seen in months– was more therapeutic than any medication or treatment. For many it would be the last time Rose’s loved ones would have a chance to see her. The visits gave everyone some kind of closure: remembering years gone by with cousins her own age, hearing first hand from nephews, nieces and their children how much Easter and Christmas Eve family parties at Aunt Rose’s had meant to them. Understanding and recognizing the need for family contact was the most palliative of all of Radhika’s care for Rose.
Hospice Austin, Q2 2020
Nominated by David Baxter:
A certain of level of medical expertise is expected and demanded of every nurse working at Hospice Austin, but a nurse who could tend to Rose’s spiritual needs as well as her medical needs was unexpected. Paula and Rose were both long-time members of St. Austin’s Catholic Church just west of the UT campus. Paula was in the choir and Rose served in many volunteer roles on the both the Parish Council and as St. Austin’s School President. From one Catholic girl to another, Paula recognized what Rose really needed at this point in her life, which Paula knew to be just a week or so. She needed the peace that comes from knowing that Aunt Rose was leaving her family loved and that her family knew how much she loved them. The meds to strengthen an irreparably weakened heart were superfluous and Rose and Paula agreed it was time to gradually step them down. But perhaps Rose was just tired of it all, for she began to quickly fade. Paula recognized it was time to summon Father Kullmann, their longtime St. Austin’s Parish Pastor.
Rose spoke only a few words in her final hours, and those to thank Fr. Kullmann that afternoon for his prayers and blessings. Paula said Rose probably would not last the night and that we should stay close. She was right: Rose slipped away that evening with her son holding her hand. How important was that final spiritual visit to help Rose peacefully and gracefully leave this life? It probably was as important to Rose as all our modern medications combined; it took someone as intuitive and caring as Paula to understand that.
Silverado Hospice, Q1 2020
Nominated by Martha Pinto:
Alex showed such interest and compassion for our mother, Lucy Goldsmith, during her time at Silverado Onion Creek. He even found musical tapes from her old group, Houston Folklore Society, for her to listen to.
He helped to get her headphones so that she could hear better and take part in more activities. He was always so good to call us and update the family frequently. We are forever grateful for all of his kindness to our mother in her last days!