A few weeks ago, West Virginia Hospice in Buckhannon, W. Va., received a referral for a
patient who had only recently learned that he had lung cancer with extensive metastasis
throughout his body. He chose to forgo any treatment, but was not totally sure he was ready for hospice yet.

Renae Sauerwein, RN, Donna Hershman, RN/PCM, and Louellen Blake, LSW/volunteer
coordinator, all went to assist during the admission assessment. They discovered a heartwrenching situation. The home was almost inhabitable due to unsanitary conditions, and the patient was alone and lying on the floor when they arrived.

The team immediately went into action. They quickly cleaned and changed his bed, and
then made the patient comfortable in bed. Ed Clevenger, scheduler, took supplies out to the
residence immediately so that the team would not have to leave. Stephanie Lane, MSW, also went to the home to assist with the situation and share concerns voiced by the neighbors to Adult Protective Services. Stephanie was able to track down the patient’s power of attorney and got her to the residence so that hospice services could be initiated.

According to the patient’s power of attorney, the patient wanted to pass away at home.
The Buckhannon team stayed in the home for four-and-a-half hours until the patient was
comfortable and had medication to palliate his terminal agitation. He passed away hours
later – peaceful and comfortable in his own home.

And all of this happened on one of the hottest days of the year in a home with no air

In hospice, we meet patients where they are and finish walking their journey with them,
striving to honor their wishes and help make them feel comforted and cared for. The
Buckhannon team rallied together and worked tirelessly to make a terrible and challenging situation better for this patient.