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Hospice Patient Becomes Justice of the Peace, Reaches Goals with Support of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care

When Joan Greffrath decided to stop her cancer treatment, her doctors gave her three months to live.  

Over the course of the next year, Joan reached many milestones — another birthday, another wedding anniversary — with Paulette Hallihan, RN, and the hospice team from VNA Hospice & Palliative Care by her side. 

Joan's first months on hospice focused on getting her symptoms under control, including shortness of breath, coughing, and nausea.  

Paulette, pictured (left) with Joan (right), said, "It's all about what symptom you are experiencing, what we can do, and how we can help."

Joan felt so much better that she said yes when her brother asked her to officiate his wedding. With her husband Charlie's support and Paulette's encouragement, Joan got her Justice of the Peace license. She wrote the wedding vows and opened her home to nearly 50 people for the special day. 

Joan said, "Paulette helps me to reach my goals, whatever I'd like to do."

As Joan's needs changed, she drew on the expertise of other members of the hospice team. She met with a social worker and chaplain, and a physical therapist developed an exercise program to promote her well-being. The hospice team is always a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

"If I have a question about anything, it gets answered. It's never dismissed...I feel like, in the times that Paulette's come in when I haven't felt well, that she's given me a reason to feel well," said Joan.  

Paulette shared, "We're not making the cancer go away. We know that it's progressing by some of the symptoms Joan's having. But we're not focusing on that. We're focusing on how we can make her feel better, and get her out to get her hair cut, and go out and have a meal with her husband, and enjoy her family."

Joan added, "The whole experience has been positive."

Joan passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, July 28, 2019. Our thoughts are with her family.

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