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The Story of Bonnie*

Living in a motel, penniless and without family was hard enough. But Bonnie, only in her 40s, faced a more immediate crisis—she was terminally ill and had no one to take care of her.

The manager of the motel called Samaritan Hospice hoping they could do, as he said, “something” for Bonnie. What
he didn’t know at the time is that Samaritan would provide an interdisciplinary team to care for Bonnie even though she had no medical insurance and couldn’t afford to pay for care.

Within hours of the manager’s initial phone call Bonnie was enrolled in Samaritan’s Option for Living as One (SOLO) hospice program, allowing her to have the highest quality care while continuing to live by herself in the place she called home. In 1996 Samaritan was awarded a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson grant to implement this newly formed and first of its kind SOLO program. Historically, until Samaritan’s SOLO program, a terminally ill person needed to have a caregiver living in the home to be able to enroll in hospice care.

Within 48 hours of Bonnie’s admission as a hospice patient she reported to her nurse that she comfortable and no longer in pain. For hospice patients living in the community, such as Bonnie, Samaritan strives to make patients comfortable within 48 hours of enrollment. For those admitted because of acute needs to the Samaritan Inpatient Hospice Center at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mt. Holly, NJ, Samaritan strives to make those patients comfortable within eight hours of admission.

With her physical pain alleviated, Bonnie was able to now focus on her psychological and spiritual needs as she neared her last days. With no funeral arrangements in place and no money to pay for funeral costs, Bonnie was very concerned about what would happen to her after she passed away. Her dying wish, told to her social worker Katie Evans, was that she wanted a proper burial, not cremation. And she wanted to be buried in a beautiful dress.

Katie shared, “My primary goal was to make her dying wish come true. That was my sole focus.”

And with that focus in mind, Samaritan’s social work and spiritual support teams went to work. They found a funeral home willing to donate a casket and a graveside service. They found a thrift store to donate a lavender dress. And thanks to the generosity of a Samaritan donor, Samaritan was able to provide the most expensive piece of the puzzle—the burial plot.

During her last days, Bonnie was comforted in knowing that while she didn’t quite have the life she envisioned for herself, thanks to Samaritan she would indeed have the peaceful death she envisioned when the time came.



*Please note that while the story here is true, to protect the patient’s privacy we have changed her name.