During a weekly Monday morning staff meeting, Greg Estes, the Executive Director for Lutheran Hospice, learned that the weekend nurse took a call from a woman named *Ms. Carol in Newberry.
“Her words were hard to understand. She was in so much pain it was difficult for her to talk,” Greg shared. “When I contacted her, she was pleading for help with her pain and asking for hospice but she wasn’t making sense. She was also refusing 911 saying she didn’t want to go back to the hospital.”
After some research and conversations with the case managers at the hospital, Greg learned that Ms. Carol was in her 50s and in the last 4 months, she had lost her brother, sister, and mother. She had just been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer the week before. Her oncology appointment was scheduled for the following Friday. After learning that her niece was her only caregiver, Greg and his team began coordinating with her to secure pain medications to get Ms. Carol through until the appointment.
“By Monday night, we had secured two prescriptions for her pain, but the niece called in tears to tell us she could only afford one of them and she was taking that one to her aunt.” Greg called the local drug store, Prosperity Drug, and spoke to John Pugh the pharmacist. “I told him what was going on and he put me on hold for more than 3 minutes. When he returned, he shared that a local church Women of ELCA group from St. Luke’s Lutheran, the Thomas Suber Circle, had a fund at the drug store to help pay for prescriptions in situations like this. They covered the second medication.”
After getting Ms. Carol’s pain under control, they were also able to move the oncology appointment to Thursday afternoon. Greg got a call from Ms. Carol. “There is nothing they can do,” she shared. “I am too tired to talk now, can we plan in the morning?”
Friday morning, Greg and his team knocked on the door of her trailer, but there was no answer. The neighbor came out and directed them to a small 400 square foot workshop in the back with a small kitchenette where Ms. Carol was living alone. She had been barely eating and weighed less than 90 pounds. Greg and his team assessed that Ms. Carol qualified for immediate placement at the Lowman Home in Hospice, but she had no money to pay for it.
Greg contacted Ernest Beck the CEO of the Lutheran Homes of South Carolina Foundation and submitted a referral for emergency funding. “The Foundation had approved funds for her placement in an hour, and we moved her to her new room.”
“Two of our hospice aids recognized Ms. Carol and shared that her mother had helped take care of them. They wanted to personally care for Ms. Carol, and they did. She spent 10 days surrounded by our team and her niece until she died in peace,” Greg shared. “Talk about a community coming together and helping a woman who was being underserved.”
Your generosity to the Lutheran Homes of South Carolina Foundation makes it possible for Greg and his team to meet the needs of God’s most vulnerable through the work of Lutheran Hospice. Thank you for your generosity.
*Names and images changed to protect the privacy of the patient and family.