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Care for the spirit

As part of JourneyCare’s deep commitment to caring for the whole patient, our Interdisciplinary Teams support each person’s physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.

With care and compassion – along with some creativity — our care teams work to ensure each patient receives the spiritual guidance and milestones they seek at the end of life.


Social worker Nancy Peter has become a pro at orchestrating nuptials on short notice at our Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter in Barrington.

“If you can find out what’s meaningful and make that dream come true, we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen,” explained Nancy.

When Bevin Brown’s cancer spread and her symptoms became more complex, her then-fianceé Rich asked Nancy if the pair could be married.

In a rush of less than 24 hours, Nancy rallied staff and volunteers to create a wedding to remember, complete with flowers from JourneyCare’s gardens, a license delivered by the Lake County Courthouse and a cake. Volunteers served as officiate and harpist, and several team members became bridesmaids, transforming Bevin’s hospice suite into a wedding chapel.

Pet therapy

Cathe Keres and her pet therapy dog, Clancy

Pet therapy volunteer Cathe Keres and her dog, Clancy, worked with a patient who had requested monthly visits.

“She fell in love with him immediately,” Cathe said.

The monthly visits soon turned to weekly visits. Cathe even took a photo of the woman and Clancy together, so she could look at it in between visits. Even when the patient was having a
challenging day, visits from Clancy motivated her to get out bed.

After the woman’s illness advanced and she died, Cathe attended her wake and saw a photo board with that same picture of her and Clancy right in the center.

“Her husband came up to me and said ‘Clancy made her so happy the last days of her life, you’ll never know how much he meant to her,’” Cathe said. “Not until that point did I really understand how inspirational pet therapy can be.”


Evelyn Hennings

Evelyn Hennings was hesitant when her doctors advised her to choose hospice for her final days, but the team at the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter helped her realize her lifelong dream of being baptized.

“My baptism was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it happened in hospice,” she said.

With Evelyn’s niece and pastor assisting, her care team used the Hospice CareCenter spa’s hydrotherapy pool and mechanized patient lift to ensure Evelyn’s safety and comfort during her full-submersion baptism.

Evelyn said her time in hospice offered a peaceful environment to reflect and “collect herself.”

“Hospice is not all about dying and death,” she shared. “It’s about life.”


Healing Through Music

Family had gathered around a patient at JourneyCare’s Ada F. Addington Hospice CareCenter in Chicago, to spend the last hours with a man who had chosen to remove his
life support and die naturally from his advancing illness.

JourneyCare uses music therapy to care for the spirit.

They invited JourneyCare Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fischer, who spent her early career as a bedside hospice
nurse, to share this critical moment with them.

A New York native, Kelly detected a similar accent from the man’s wife. Kelly asked if the woman was from New York and her eyes lit up.

“She launched into their cross-country love story, with her being from New York and him from Chicago, and then she ultimately shared their story of the journey through
his illness,” Fischer said.

Once the couple had recalled their years together, the patient gave a thumbs-up to show he was ready. That’s when his other wish began: a JourneyCare music therapist played ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and sang the upbeat lyrics, all while the nurse gently separated the patient from the machines and his family clapped and sang along.

“His journey with us was everything he wanted it to be,” Fischer said. He was surrounded by the family and friends he loved with his favorite music playing. “I had never seen
such joy.”


– By Elisabeth Mistretta, JourneyCare Content Specialist, and Lisa Encarncion, Media Relations and Public Affairs Manager
Originally published in Touching Lives, Spring 2016