St. Luke’s Hospice
Compassionate End-of-Life Care
240 Union Station Plaza
Bethlehem, PA 18015
484-526-1100 or 1-800-211-4788
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Hospice provides patients and their families with compassionate end-of-life care. The focus is on care, not cure, and on quality and value of life, not the length.
In most cases, care is provided in the patient’s own home. Hospice is available to people of any age, religion or race.
Hospice uses palliative care - controlling pain and lessening the symptoms of the disease – so that patients can live as comfortably as possible. Support is provided to loved ones, as well.
St. Luke’s Hospice serves the greater Lehigh Valley and all or parts of the following counties:
- Upper Bucks
St. Luke’s Hospice encourages you to enjoy the relationships and activities that are most important to you. Visitors are encouraged at any time. Activities and hobbies can be enjoyed within the limits of your illness. Whenever possible, the hospice team provides opportunities for enhancing your day. A patient once described this experience, saying, "Hospice cannot add days to your life, but they can absolutely add life to your days."
Best Time to Ask
Now is the best time to learn more about hospice. End-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, but it is best for family members to share their wishes early. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed. By having these discussions in advance, you can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.
Hospice services available to you and your family include:
- A care plan developed with your physician
- Management of pain and symptoms
- Skilled nursing care
- Help with personal care and activities of daily living
- Counseling provided by social workers
- Spiritual care for patients and family members
- Bereavement support
- On-call support by physicians, nurses, and support services 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week
- Medical equipment (i.e. hospital beds)
- Drugs for symptom control and pain relief
- Volunteer support to assist loved ones
- Physical, speech and occupational therapy
- Dietary counseling
For each patient and family, this care team writes a care plan with you and your family that is used to make sure you receive the care you need from the team. Typically, full-time registered nurses provide care to about a dozen different patients and families. Social workers usually work with about twice the number of patients/families as nurses. Home health aides, who provide personal care to you, will visit most frequently if needed.
All visits, however, are based on your needs and those of your family as described in the care plan and as dictated by your condition during the course of your illness. The frequency of volunteers and spiritual care is often dependent upon the family request and the availability of these services. Travel requirements and other factors may cause some variation in how many patients each hospice staff serves.
Making you comfortable at St. Luke’s Hospice
You may have pain and other symptoms with your illness. Hospice staff is trained to help with pain, discomfort and distress. We measure how comfortable you are during your stay in hospice. Hospice staff works with your doctor on the medications, therapies and procedures to achieve the goals outlined in your care plan. We review the care plan often to make sure any changes and new goals are included.
Hospice volunteers are available to run errands, prepare light meals, stay with you to give family members a break or lend emotional support and companionship to you and your family.
Hospice volunteers are trained in areas such as understanding hospice, confidentiality, working with families, listening skills, signs and symptoms of approaching death, loss and grief and bereavement support.
Hospice 30th Anniversary Patient Story (Penguins)
April 2016 - The staff of St. Luke’s Hospice House is accustomed to providing little acts of kindness to make their patients’ last days brighter, but arranging a penguin visit was a first. The lively little black-and-white, web-footed callers succeeded in their mission to bring smiles to the faces of 38-year-old patient Ann Marie Carl and her family.
Several months earlier, Ann Marie Carl, an animal lover, was excited for an upcoming trip to Sea World in Florida with her husband Dennis. But then, she got a cough that wouldn’t go away. She went to her physician, who ordered a blood test. After several additional tests, she was diagnosed with liver cancer.
“She was given three and a half months last fall, but she lasted until April,” Dennis says of his wife of 11 years. On April 22, during the last days of her life, she moved to the St. Luke’s Hospice House in Bethlehem.
Hearing of the cancelled trip, the Hospice staff decided that if Ann Marie couldn’t go to Sea World, they would bring Sea World to her, says Hospice Patient Care Manager Judy Scott.
“They decorated her room with blue streamers, a sun and an inflated dolphin,” she said. “I even saw Ann Marie and a nurse tossing a beach ball.” But that wasn’t good enough. So, knowing that the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville had penguins, they made a few calls.
“We were more than happy to accommodate their request to have the penguins visit Ann Marie,” said Cherlyn R. Vatalaro, Director of Conservation Education, Lehigh Valley Zoo. The zoo used dog kennels to transport the penguins, which are called black-footed or African penguins. About two feet tall, the penguins are trained to come out of the kennels and onto tables, Cherlyn says. In addition to Ann Marie and Dennis, Ann Marie’s mother, sister and two small nephews shared the penguin visit.
“It was a special day,” Judy says. “The family was so gracious. There were other children in the building and Dennis encouraged them to come in and see the penguins.”
“Ann Marie welcomed the children,” Dennis says. “She worked in daycare most of her life and loved children.”
Sadly, Ann Marie passed away two days later. Although nothing will replace the loss Dennis feels, he is grateful for the support he received from Hospice, he said adding, they continue to call him every now and then.
“They did everything they could to comfort my wife and me,” he says.
Betty and Pip, A Love Story
June 2014 - Phillip Rader, “Pip” to his friends, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1994. For years his wife Betty tirelessly took care of him herself. Eventually, Pip’s mind began to deteriorate and dementia set in. “There were times when he didn’t remember who I was. After 45 years of marriage, that was so difficult to witness,” said Betty. Despite ongoing medical intervention, Pip – like most patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease – experienced a steady decline. Determined to care for her husband at home, Betty enlisted the help of a certified nursing assistant who introduced her to the idea of hospice care. Betty, like so many, thought that hospice care was only for terminally ill cancer patients. What she learned was that hospice supports all terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months of life. “I was annoyed with myself that I had such difficulty taking care of Pip,” admits Betty. “His disease was very demanding, both physically and emotionally. I was confined to the house, but with the hospice team I had someone to share the load with.”
With his disease in its final stages, Pip was transferred to Mahoning Valley Convalescent Home. Although no longer living in his house, hospice caregivers continued to see Pip several times a week. “They checked on him, they checked on me, they were always concerned about our care. I couldn’t have felt more blessed to be able to spend the last moments with Pip without the worry of caring for his physical needs,” says Betty. Nineteen days after being admitted to the nursing home, Pip peacefully succumbed to his disease.
March 2005 - After a long battle with cancer, Marci’s parents brought her to Hospice House. Everything that could be done for Marci had been done. A family friend, however, could not stop thinking about how much Marci loved her horse, Berri, and asked the Hospice House staff is she could bring Berri to visit Marci. Although it was an unusual request, the staff agreed. On a cold March afternoon, a horse trailer pulled up to trailer Hospice House and Berri was led to the patio outside Marci’s room. Staff moved Marci, covered in a mound of beautiful quilts, to the French doors to see her beloved horse. With the windows open and the wind blowing into the room, Marci opened her eyes and with her mother’s help, lifted her hand to touch Berri and said goodbye. Marci died peacefully later that day. Thanks to the loving care of the Hospice House staff, Marci was able to say goodbye to all of her loved ones, including her beautiful Arabian horse, Berri.
St. Luke’s Hospice has been providing compassionate end-of-life care, bereavement care and counseling for patients and their families since 1986.