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Sisters Find Loving, Supportive, Respectful Environment for Final Days Together at VNA Care's Rose Monahan Hospice Home 

Sisters Debbie Feingold and Anne Mack were constantly in each other’s company. Known as the Tirechix, the two ran the family business, Harding Tire in Worcester, for many years.

Debbie laughs as she remembered, “At night we’d be on the phone for an hour because we didn’t have enough time together during the day.”

That time together became even more precious when Anne was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare neurological disorder for which there’s no effective treatment. The Rose Monahan Hospice Home would become part of the family’s journey as they sought to make the most of their remaining days together.

It’s difficult to say exactly when PSP may have begun affecting Anne (pictured). The first symptom is often loss of balance when walking. Anne suffered a fall seven years ago when going down some steps. Debbie said her sister was “small in stature but she was tough.” Anne limped into work for the following week, refusing to see a doctor until she couldn’t walk. Ann had broken her hip and underwent replacement surgery. 

About two years later, Anne fell down the stairs in her home and broke her pelvis. Debbie remembered that Anne “just wasn’t the same” after that fall. They soon learned that Anne had PSP, which shares some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and impacts body movements, walking and balance, and eye movements.

Anne’s condition deteriorated. She suddenly developed hemophilia, a condition in which blood doesn’t clot normally, and was hospitalized. When it appeared the problem was under control, she went home only to be hospitalized again two days later. The family was prepared that Anne may only be with them for a matter of days. They decided to move her from the hospital to VNA Care’s Rose Monahan Hospice Home.

Debbie was already familiar with the residence. Not only does she live nearby, but she knows other families who have turned to the hospice home. During her first visit, Debbie remembered the residence was quiet and peaceful, and Anne’s room had a lovely view overlooking Coes Pond.

“I thought it was beautiful. It looks just like a home,” said Debbie. The family made Anne’s room feel even more familiar by bringing in her favorite blanket and filling the bedroom with family photos. Harvey, Anne’s chihuahua, was among the frequent visitors.

“The staff was incredible. They just want to make sure the patient is comfortable,” said Debbie. “They give the patient dignity and respect. If you need someone, they come right away.”

She added, “They don’t just take care of the patient and make sure they’re comfortable as they’re transitioning, they support the whole family.”

Debbie was particularly touched by a tradition at the Rose Monahan Hospice Home, a moment of silence after a patient passes away. The loved one, covered in a handmade quilt, is brought by the living room where family, friends, staff, and volunteers gather to say a final farewell. Monahan Home staff express their gratitude to the family for allowing them to care for their loved one.

“It was very moving,” said Debbie. “I was happy that Anne was in a place like that.” Having experienced the compassionate care at the residence, the family wanted to give back and help others facing a terminal illness. The family requested donations be made in Anne’s memory to the Rose Monahan Hospice Home and made a gift to have Anne’s name inscribed on a plaque at the residence. Charitable support is essential and provides for patient care and other critical needs.

Debbie added, “The Monahan Home is like a hidden gem in the city. …You want your loved one in a loving, supportive, respectful environment. This is it.”

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