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“I’m So Grateful for the Kindness”
Created by hospice on 5/12/2011 3:10:42 PM


Palliative Partners medical practice offers pain relief and reassuring support  to patients and families not yet eligible for hospice care 

Betty Tourscher remembers the October 2010 day she received “the call” from Kathryn (Kit) Alexander, the 98-year-old aunt of her deceased first husband Michael. The usually alert and witty Kit, who lived alone in Northeast Philly, sounded very weak and disoriented. Alarmed, Betty instructed her new husband, Dane, to go get Kit and bring her to New Jersey “as is.”  High fever and dehydration from an infection prompted an emergency visit with the doctor – and an invitation to move in permanently with Betty’s family in their Marlton home.

“My late husband was very close to both his aunts and called them daily. Kit remains very close to both my sons and their children as well as her other great nephew and family. So Dane and I never had a moment’s hesitation.”

Betty, a former Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice RN who left nursing due to her own health issues, reached out to Samaritan for help. “The social worker who came to do an assessment said Kit was not a candidate for hospice yet, but talked about this new Palliative Medical Partners program which I was unfamiliar with,” said Betty.

Katherine (Kit) Alexander, 98, is one of more than 85 patients this year who have received care from
Samaritan’s expanded Palliative Medical Partners practice. Kit and her niece-in-law Betty Tourscher
receive a home visit from Advanced Practice Nurse Jeannette Kates, a member of the Samaritan
Palliative Medical Partners care team.

Over a ‘time-out’ cup of tea recently at her country kitchen table, Betty discussed Kit’s progress with Advanced Practice Nurse Jeannette Kates, a Board Certified, Palliative trained member of Samaritan’s newly expanded Palliative Medical Partners team.

How is Kit’s appetite? Is she in pain?
Any side effects from her medications?

Betty appreciated the opportunity to talk nurse-to-nurse. But more importantly, she was grateful for the opportunity to just be Kit’s concerned and loving caregiver. “It’s comforting to have another set of expert eyes to help and guide us in Kit’s care here at home. So much has changed since I’ve been actively practicing,” she said.

Betty answered each question and reported that her family had gotten Kit a new recliner – “it’s a Cadillac with heavy padding, massage and heat” to help with the pressure sores and arthritic pain that had been bothering her aunt.

To each concern, Jeannette responded with calm reassurances. “I can write a prescription for a gel cushion that should help Kit be more comfortable.” “Medicare will cover skilled nursing for advanced wound care.” “Let’s discuss with Kit the pros and cons of additional tests.” “Yes,” said Betty, “riding in a car is so difficult for her that she will be wiped out for two days.”

With her cup of tea, and Jeannette’s questions, completed,Betty and Jeannette visited Kit’s sunny bedroom with two large windows, the “Cadillac” recliner, Tiffany lamp and a lovely view of the wooded property. “The space outside my window has been crowded with birds lately. I guess they like our brand of birdseed,” said Kit, a cheery breast cancer survivor.

Kit worked from the age of 15 as a sales associate in the “Five & Dime,” held positions in a millinery retail department, a paper manufacturer and, at the time of her retirement at age 62, as a legal secretary.  These days,” said Betty. “She starts each morning with prayer, breakfast and watching Dr. Oz.”

Kit had picked out a favorite outfit for her recent photo shoot,saying she “always wanted to be a cover girl. I wore this to my 95th birthday party.” She talked about the joys – and limitations – of her advancing age, “I’m shocked that I’ve reached this age and I really enjoy when my great-nephews bring their children to visit.”

On the other hand, she misses her independence. “I’d like to go out running,” she said with a laugh, but compensates by planning “fantasy” days with Betty. “I’ll say, ‘Today, I’d like to go rock climbing, but, wait, I can’t because my rock climbing clothes are back at my house in Philadelphia… Everyone’s always told me that I have a great sense of humor. It runs in our family.” 

Turning misty-eyed,  Kit acknowledges that Jeannette’s visits – and her family’s loving care – have made all the difference: “I felt rotten. Now I feel 100% better each day. I am so very grateful for the kindness.”