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Donor Gifts Make Hospice Patients Wishes Come True; Help Families Cope with Grief

A check representing collective donor gifts of more than $8,000 from the Abraham Lincoln Healthcare Foundation’s Dr. Wayne J. Schall Hospice Fund was recently presented to the Memorial Home Services nurses who work with Logan County patients and their families.  The memorial and "Light Up A Life" contributions from local donors will help promote a bereavement support group and support the final wishes of local hospice patients.

Memorial Home Services is a not-for-profit affiliate of Memorial Health System and serves 14 Central Illinois counties.  Both Shelley Gray, RN and Jessica Spiedel, RN (pictured) commute daily from Girard and Chatham to work with Logan and Mason county patients. They do so because they “love the families, pharmacies, physicians and hospital in the Lincoln community.”  As part of their daily routine, Gray and Spiedel visit hospice patients in their homes to help make their final days as pain-free and rewarding as possible.  They also partner with ALMH case managers and Dr. Mary Bretscher’s chemotherapy clinic to ensure that the transition to hospice care is as smooth as possible.

Gray says that the gifts passed along from ALHF will be used to support a new bereavement support group, which meets in the ALMH Steinfort Room the 3rd Thursday of every month from 6 to 8:00 p.m.

Spiedel added that the gifts will also help them grant wishes for local patients as part of Memorial Medical Center Foundation's Sharing Wishes Fund.  Wishes granted to Logan County patients have included a ride in a hot-air balloon, a laptop needed to Skype with faraway family members, a hearing device, and a haircut and special dinner.  Gray and Spiedel work with the Memorial Hospice team of social workers, chaplains and volunteers to get to know the patients and their desires, and then utilize the Sharing Wishes Fund to make those wishes a reality.

According to Abraham Lincoln Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Marty Ahrends, ALMH started their own hospice program in the late 1980s and named it in memory of beloved physician Dr. Wayne J. Schall.  Even though the Schall Hospice Program at ALMH merged with Visiting Nurses Association of Central Illinois (VNA) in the mid-90s, the community continued to support the Schall Hospice Fund.  More than $522,000 from 6,047 donors has been donated to the Schall Hospice Fund.  In 2004 the local hospice advisory group recommended that Schall funds purchase low-air loss mattresses and other items that hospice patients would use in their homes.  Later they approved the renovation of a hospice respite care room at the former ALMH facility and voted to use funds for pain medications that keep local hospice patients comfortable during their final months.

Gifts for the Schall Hospice Fund can be sent to the Abraham Lincoln Healthcare Foundation, 200 Stahlhut Drive in Lincoln.  For more information contact Executive Director Marty Ahrends at 605-5006 or visit ALMH.org.
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