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2010 Annual Report: The Denver Hospice
The Denver Hospice
“He looked like he was very restful and like he was home. He wasn’t even shaking anymore, not like he was at the nursing home,” said Betty Abrham about her father upon his moving to the Bill Daniels Veterans Wing of the Denver Hospice Inpatient Care Center.
The Center is a warm and peaceful place that provides compassionate and specialized end-of-life care to individuals with life-limiting illnesses and their families. With its calming ambience, open spaces, and scenic landscapes outside the large windows, it truly feels like home.
The Center is a new, 35,000 square foot facility with 24 private rooms that was completed in late 2010. The Daniels Fund granted $1.5 million over three years to help construct it. A wing dedicated to Veterans is aptly named after Bill Daniels who had the highest respect for those who serve our country. He also cared deeply about helping care for the aging.
Like Bill Daniels, Abrham’s father, Allan Thompson, was a proud military man, serving in the Navy from 1952 to 1956, and in the Air Force from 1956 to 1973. He served as a bombardier on many tours, including Vietnam. “To my father, it was a career. It was completely his life. He was very patriotic,” said Abrham. After Vietnam, her father returned to Colorado where he worked many years in the Lowry Air Force Base hangar.
Later in life, Abrham’s father went to a nursing home, where he struggled with dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Over the last three weeks of his life, Abrhams’ father took a downward turn, becoming wheelchair-bound and losing his alertness. He wasn’t eating or drinking, and tests showed that his kidney levels were off the charts.
“At that time, I told the nurse no to dialysis; we’re just going to let nature run its course,” said Abrham. “The first thought that occurred to me was hospice care.”
Abrham was ready to have hospice come into the nursing home to care for her father, until her daughter said “that won’t work.” Betty said to herself, “she’s right. He didn’t want to die here. He said that many times.”
“His face was very strained at the nursing home when we saw him Friday night,” said Abrham. “But when we told him we were taking him to hospice and that it’s on Lowry, his face seemed to immediately start to relax. By the time we got him there, he looked like he was resting. It was amazing. I told him ‘the hangar’s right over there’. It looked like he was home. He was here for a very short time, less than 24 hours. Being that he passed here so quickly, it convinced me that we made the right choice. I feel that it meant a lot for him to come back to Lowry.”
For Betty and her husband, Mike, the hospice experience with her father was their third. Both her mother and her brother were cared for by The Denver Hospice.
“Hospice has touched my life in huge ways. The compassion and the supportiveness of people you don’t even know,” said Abrham. “It’s not only about the patient; it’s about the family,” added Abrahm’s husband, Mike. “Everybody was so kind. They were very respectful, but at the same time checking on me in a very non-intrusive way. I just can’t say enough good. It’s been wonderful here,” she said.