4/26/16

Unique hospice connection leads to comfort and inspiration

At her DAISY ceremony, Carol Schank, RN, walked up to receive her award through a disorienting wave of surprise when a familiar hand reached up and took hers.

She recognized her hospice colleagues and her husband, Mark. But she hadn’t noticed Candy Hagman. The daughter of a husband and wife Schank cared for, Candy came all the way from the Seattle area for the ceremony.

Complete strangers only months earlier, both broke into tears when they saw each other again.

“That was my favorite moment of the ceremony,” Candy said. “To see her look of total surprise was amazing.”

The nationwide DAISY award program recognizes nurses’ exceptional clinical skills and compassion. Carle patients and employees nominate nurses who consistently provide:
 
  • Exceptional nursing care
  • Customer service excellence
  • Community involvement
  • Patient-family advocacy
  • Education/mentoring
The reactions at the DAISY ceremony represent what Schank and her hospice colleagues strive to achieve—a true connection with the family they assist during a loved one’s end-of-life process.

Schank strives to prove she wants to help the entire family and get to know its members as people.

“Carol Schank and her family made it easy for me, too, because I immediately knew that I entered a home filled with love,” Schank said. “Still, I begin to approach my patients and their families by asking about good memories. I do that by maybe finding a picture that seems to mean something special to them.”

When Candy and her brother called in Carle Hospice for their father, Mike, who was dealing with heart failure, she knew right away Schank was the right person for her family.

"She was entirely dedicated to us, and I have a feeling she was like that with all her families. She would say that we could contact her whenever we needed her—any hour or even on her days off,” Candy said. “Then, as we got to know her, she would make us laugh.

“I remember she would always forget things in the house. She would come back later, put her hands in front of her face, take what she needed and then turn around to walk right back out.”

The family appreciated those lighter moments during tough times.

While Candy knew her dad was nearing death, she was surprised to see her mom, Geneva, looking pale and weak.

Already dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, Geneva soon received a colon cancer diagnosis. The family brought here home for hospice care, too.

“Hospice could bring a bed, and come to us rather than traveling every day with so much equipment,” Candy said.

“From there it all happened so fast. Five days later, on a Tuesday, mom passed away. A week and a half later Dad had his stroke on a Friday. Then on Tuesday he died, exactly two weeks after Mom.”
Through it all at the end, Schank was there.

“(Later) I had a couple questions for her, things that were weighing heavy on my heart and mind,” Candy said. “I wanted to run those things past her. I wanted to know if I made the right decisions.
“She said so many of the things I expected her to say, but it was still totally reassuring for me to hear her say it.”

Carol Schank’s impact didn’t stop there.

“Carol inspired me so much that I started volunteering at a memory care home here in Gig Harbor, Washington,” Candy said. “Obviously my mom had Alzheimer’s, and I just wanted to do something to help.

“I’ve had Carol in my mind the entire time. She inspired me to go down this route.”

Carle nurses rock. And you could be one of them.