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Hospice Nurse’s “Gentle Way” Enables Patients to Live Fully at End of Life 

Edoualda Chrispin-Lovaincy, RN, BSN, discovered her calling as a teenager.

Her grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. Those suffering from it can become agitated or aggressive as the disease progresses. Edoualda saw her grandmother become increasingly combative and mean. The situation was incredibly difficult for the entire family.

“I was the only one at that time who could really calm myself down to provide the care that she needed,” remembered Edoualda. She devoted herself to caring for her grandmother and her studies, and later received degrees in both public health and nutrition.

The experience stayed with her, and she first worked as a hospice aide, assisting terminally ill patients with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing, and providing care and support that promoted her patients’ comfort and dignity.

“I had a good connection with the hospice nurses and learned about what they really do and what hospice is all about. I couldn’t see myself in any other field. …I fell in love with hospice,” said Edoualda. Photo of E Chrispin-Lovaincy

She pursued her nursing degree, became a registered nurse, and is now part of the hospice team at VNA Care. She and her colleagues care for patients at home and other settings. VNA Care’s Rose Monahan Hospice Home is available for terminally ill patients for times when remaining at home is not possible or desired. Edoualda shared that every day and, seemingly, every moment is different as a hospice nurse. Each patient’s plan of care is tailored to their specific concerns, and the plan evolves with the patient’s needs and disease process.

Laurie Roth, RN, BSN, hospice clinical services manager, said that Edoualda has a “gentle way about her. She enables patients to live their life fully wherever they are at.”

One of the most important lessons Edoualda has learned during her years working in hospice is that even the smallest gestures, like a phone call or kind word, can be enormously impactful. One of her patients said that even at age 95, he couldn’t recall ever being hugged, not even by his family. Edoualda offered to give him a hug, and he accepted. She said that it was “a beautiful moment.” As this man was in his final weeks of life, he shared that the hug made him feel loved.

Edoualda also supports patients’ loved ones throughout the end-of-life journey. She counsels people on their fears and concerns, helps them in their role as caregivers, and provides education about the disease process and what to expect. She lets families know how they can “be present” for their loved one during those final hours. Even if the patient can no longer hold a conversation and their eyes are closed, she encourages family and friends to still talk to them so they know they aren’t alone.

The time she spends with her patients and their loved ones has made an impact on her. Edoualda said, “I’m blessed. Because of that, I have to share my blessings with others to the fullest. Not some of it. Not half of it, but all of it.”

This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of Caring Matters. 

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