Longevity isn’t a word often found at end-of-life care facilities. But longevity describes the St. Augustine Health Ministries’ Holy Family Home, celebrating 60 years of hospice care in Greater Cleveland.
Founded in 1956 by the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, Holy Family was a prototype for end-of-life care even before the word “hospice” was widely known. When the Dominican Sisters announced retirement, they turned over ownership of Holy Family to St. Augustine.
Today, Holy Family continues to fulfill the mission the Dominican Sisters began 60 years ago by providing home health care and residential and community-based end-of-life care for patients of all faiths. Their mission: focus on individualized needs of patients by caring for them with dignity at the most vulnerable time in life’s journey.
Rick Meserini, president and CEO of St. Augustine Health Ministries, says Holy Family employs a faith-based foundation to provide services for individuals diagnosed with various life-limiting illnesses.
“We offer compassionate care that addresses the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of each individual. Because we are faith-based, there is a spiritual center in every aspect of our care.”
To meet the growing demand for elder care, community-based hospice has grown. There are 34 Medicare certified hospices in Cuyahoga County; 16 of these have opened since 2000. A growing number of patients are receiving care at their place of residence.
“Many people wish to remain in their homes,” Meserini says. “We completely support that choice. However, some are more comfortable receiving in-patient care, so patients also have access to our 30-bed facility in Parma.”
There are challenges that come with running this type of business. Ironically, one of the biggest is overcoming the stigma of hospice in general. Meserini says many people feel like they’re giving up if they choose hospice for a loved one.
“Families often have guilt that they’re not doing enough. So it’s an education process. We want families to know it’s OK to start the process early. Some wait to make the decision, and there’s not much time to do what is needed. It’s our job to get people comfortable with the idea of hospice during this difficult time. Too many people try to do this on their own when they don’t have to.”
Timeliness is important
Meserini trusts that over the next decade, people will begin to understand the importance of seeking hospice care sooner.
“If we stay true to our mission, we will continue to meet the needs of our patients. By providing skilled, compassionate care, we can take the burden off of families sooner while helping them come to terms with the many aspects of the end-of-life process.”
A service of the Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland, St. Augustine Health Ministries has three facilities in Greater Cleveland — St Augustine Health Campus, Holy Family Home Health Care & Hospice and Emerald Village Senior Living.
How to reach: St. Augustine Health Ministries, (216) 634-7400 or www.StAugMinistries.org