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Longtime hospice patient improves on program, transfers to palliative care

Barb Wildman of Reinbeck considers herself blessed.

She and her husband, Chuck, were married for 65 years before he passed away on April 12, 2018. Soon after, Barb invited Cedar Valley Hospice into her home to help with her care.

"I had been so busy taking care of my husband, that I think a lot of my health issues were put to the side," she said. Chuck was not on the program long enough (4 days), she adds, to really experience its benefits.

After he died, Barb was placed in our LINK Palliative Care program as someone with serious illnesses, but did not meet hospice criteria. A couple months later, she started to experience reoccurring hospital visits with multiple ailments affecting her heart, lungs and kidneys. It was then that she moved onto our hospice program. In June, over 3 years after her personal journey started with Cedar Valley Hospice, her condition stabilized and she has transferred back to the palliative care – all while being cared for in her home.

Erica Jensen, nurse practitioner, equates Barb’s longevity to her positivity and our excellent case management. "While Barb was on hospice, our nurse closely monitored her and called her primary care physician when symptoms were arising, so we could quickly adjust her medicines to prevent it from getting worse," said Erica. "It made a big difference, as well as having an aide to help with light housework. This helped her conserve her energy.”

“It’s difficult when you’re alone with no family living close. I feel blessed that I have Cedar Valley Hospice to come in, check on me, help me communicate with my doctors and whatever else may come at me that week," said Barb. "I probably would have gone to the nursing home if it wasn’t for their care."

Barb often attributes her good spirits to the visits she receives. She gets emotional when talking about all those who have helped her.

"They are so sincere about what they do and truly show you that they care," Barb adds. "It's not just a job to them. They do so much above and beyond what I even thought was possible for a care team."

Whether it's the nurse communicating with Barb's doctors or the social worker acting as the go-between with insurance companies, Barb has more peace of mind knowing Cedar Valley Hospice has her back.

"The LINK program is beneficial for her and other patients, as it provides a care team that has a 'big picture focus' on their overall well-being," said Barb's social worker, Kortni. "Today, each provider has such a specialized focus that it can be hard to notice the impact each bodily system has on another. Taking a step back and looking at the big picture makes such a positive impact for them."

Barb's nurse, Kris, agrees and adds, "We really honor that uniqueness each patient brings us and encourage them to do what brings them joy."

For Barb, it's her art and her crafting... and she loves sharing it with her team when they come to visit.

"What they do – it's not about death,” Barb said. “It's about living the best now, them helping you along that road and making it easier. Their support has meant so much."