Local hospice offers no-cost care regardless of illness

| October 23, 2014 | 0 Comments
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When Paula Winsor flew to New York and saw how much pain her sister Connie was in with terminal colon cancer, she knew that bringing her back to Minnesota to be with family toward the end was the right thing to do.

And she knew that Our Lady of Peace Home in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul was just the place for Connie to receive end-of-life care.

“It’s such a peaceful place,” Winsor told The Catholic Spirit. “There’s an unbelievable amount of care you get there.”

Winsor’s sister went from the medical plane at the St. Paul Downtown Airport straight to Our Lady of Peace.

Since both of their parents are living and they come from a family of seven children, Connie had plenty of visitors in the hospice center.

“We’re a pretty close-knit family,” explained Winsor, who works nearby in the office at Cafe Latté on Grand Avenue. She is a parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul.

As a result of what Winsor termed “loving care” for her sister, she has “nothing but wonderful memories” of Our Lady of Peace Home.

Recently, that no-cost care was made available to even more people who have the need for hospice care and have limited financial resources.

Expanding free hospice care to those in their last days who have an illness other than cancer is “broadening our mission,” said Joe Stanislav, Franciscan Health Community president and chief executive officer.

“As the end of life nears, we’re trying to relieve the pain,” Stanislav said. “That’s the same no matter the diagnosis. There’s the same emotional suffering.”

People are admitted to Our Lady of Peace Home once they decide to no longer actively treat their condition.

“Our mission is to make their last days as comfortable as possible and to let the family quit being caregivers and just be family,” he said.

Following sisters’ footsteps

It’s a mission that Franciscan Health Community assumed when the organization succeeded the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, who had operated Our Lady of Good Counsel Free Cancer Home at the corner of St. Anthony and Cleveland Avenues in St. Paul from 1941 until 2009.

For 68 years the Sisters of St. Dominic, Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer had cared for those terminal cancer patients who couldn’t afford care elsewhere or at home.

In 2009, the Sisters turned over operation of the home to Franciscan Health Community, which offers a variety of housing and nursing services to seniors at several other sites in St. Paul, plus home health care and a “meals on wheels” type of program.

As the number of their sisters dwindled, Stanislav explained, the Dominicans chose to consolidate their efforts in fewer locations.

“The sisters wanted to be caregivers, not managers, and to staff their homes themselves,” he said. The cancer home in St. Paul was one of the sites it decided to leave.

“We’ve been trying to live up to the sisters’ legacy,” Stanislav added.

The facility has been renamed Our Lady of Peace Home. The home receives no payment for the services provided and relies solely on the generosity of donors to continue its mission.

For more information, visit http://www.ourladyofpeacemn.org.

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Category: Funeral & Hospice Planning