A Palliative Patient's Selfless Request

Compassionate care in the last days of a person’s life means easing pain, taking away stress, and creating peace and calm for families. 


It is a time for quiet moments, and one special palliative patient found a way to bring more opportunities for closeness to Carmel Hospice.


The 10-bed facility, located in St. Joseph’s Home in Medicine Hat, provides care for patients for up to three months. It was one compassionate woman's last home before she passed away in September 2016. 


“I can tell you that she was a very family-oriented person,” says unit manager Dawn Durksen. “She and her husband would have liked to be able to lie together in bed and spend time together as they always did.”


Unfortunately, the hospice had only single hospital beds available, and fitting two people in one is a difficult endeavour.


The caring patient saw an opportunity, and initiated a selfless request that was published in her obituary: she and her husband asked that donations be made so that Carmel Hospice could purchase a double bed so other patients would be able to lay with their loved ones in their final days. 

With the generous donations from from friends and neighbours combined with funds from the Medicine Hat Community Foundation, the bed was purchased.


“We’re so touched by their gesture,” says Ryan Wiest, Site Administrator, St. Joseph’s Home. “This double bed allows couples to be together, and kids or grandkids can also crawl in there. The desire to be loved, to be together, to be comforted … that’s important in this stage of life.”


The double bed will help staff as well, freeing them up from searching the unit for cots and arranging them into tight spaces, and giving them piece of mind during their difficult work.


“We always see spouses and family members here overnight,” says Durksen. “It will be so nice to have that time close together so a sad situation can at least feel a bit normal.”