Rita Anderson had a patient that, despite trying our very best, was not improving and the family was getting ready to make the decision to withdraw care and implement comfort measures. The day before comfort measures were initiated, this patient's heartbroken son pulled Rita aside and said that although his mom, the patient's wife, was shy and would not ask her, she wished very much to lay by her husband once more. Immediately Rita got to work moving the ventilator and all the lines to one side, sliding the patient over to create some room for his wife. She bathed him, combed his hair, shaved him. She helped his wife remove her shoes, acquired a warm blanket to cover them both and gave her the privacy she needed to grieve.
Rita did all of this without question and with all the reassurance in the world to this patient's wife that her request was absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. She explained every step that would take place to the family, gave them hugs as well as privacy as they needed and provided the most dignified care. Though the outcome was not as desired for this lovely family or our team, and though Rita grew tearful at times herself through this difficult case, it was handled with so much respect and care and she truly embodied what we do each day to help heal and care for both patients and families.