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BJC Hospice Team Lends a Hand to Help Struggling Family

Kathryn Lewis, a BJC Home Care and Hospice registered nurse, became alarmed when she visited a hospice patient at his rural Missouri home and found that his family was struggling to put food on the table. BJC Home Care and Hospice, supported by The Foundation for BJC Home Care (a dba of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital), provides compassionate care for patients who need comprehensive services in their homes, including home health, infusion, home medical equipment, therapy, palliative home care and hospice.

Kathryn’s patient, a self-employed, over-the-road truck driver, had been the breadwinner in his family until cancer made it impossible for him to work.  His condition left his wife, two grandchildren aged 5 and 6, and another relative in dire straits.

“They didn’t have anything in their kitchen cupboards,” says Kathryn, who immediately swung into action and enlisted help from the following team members:  Dianna Swift, RN, Nikki McRaven, office manager, James French, MSW, and Shelly Bryant, BSW.

They quickly worked together to gather necessities. Kathryn was able to get donations from her church’s food pantry and they all chipped in to buy other essential supplies. Their purchases included food for the family’s two dogs and even some toys for the children.

The collected goods filled every inch of space in Kathryn’s truck and she says the family was “completely shocked” when she drove up with the enormous supply of desperately needed items. 

Kathryn and the patient’s wife unpacked the food first, completely filling the kitchen. But Kathryn saved the toys for last as a special surprise for the little girls.

“They were super excited,” she says.  

The food did more than feed the family for weeks, Kathryn adds.  It eased the strain on the dying patient, who had always been able to provide for his family.

“It’s the right thing to do and it makes you feel so good,” she says. “It’s just what mankind should do. We should help each other.”

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