Holy Family Home Health Care & Hospice is a pioneer in Greater Cleveland in caring for patients who are facing a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less.
Located on 7½ wooded acres at 6707 State Road in Parma, the not-for-profit hospice was founded in 1956 by the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, New York. The sisters at one time had a network of what then were called cancer homes for the dying. They operated Holy Family Home until 2005, when it became part of St. Augustine Health Ministries, which was founded by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, to provide a continuum of health care and social services in the diocese.
Bishop Nelson Perez, who had been visiting nearby Mount Alverna Village, stopped by Holy Family for a visit on July 16.
Kristin Graham, Holy Family director, oversees a staff of caregivers who provide hospice care – either inpatient or home-based – and home health care to nearly 200 patients. There are 30 beds in the licensed residential hospice in Parma with patients having private or semi-private, homelike rooms. Sisters from several religious congregations also assist with pastoral care at the facility.
Joe Stupecki, director of nursing, who has been with Holy Family for 32 years, said it was necessary to hire a group of women nurses after the sisters left because they served as nurses for the women patients. He and a group of male nurses worked with the men. Women were housed on one floor, men on the other and the sisters lived on the third floor.
Graham and Stupecki shared information about Holy Family’s ministry and history with the bishop during his visit.
They were joined by Patrick Gareau, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, and two Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Mark, the congregation that operates Mount St. Joseph Rehab Center in Euclid.
“We meet patients and families where they are,” Graham told the bishop. She said they have had patients from many different faiths and cultural backgrounds and worked with them to ensure they had a good experience. She said sometimes that means researching another faith to get the proper materials for the family or to understand cultural differences. They also provide support for the families as they deal with the end of their loved one’s life and their grief.
The staff works as a team to make sure residents and their families are comfortable and well cared for, with an emphasis on living rather than dying. Some residents choose to live at Holy Family during their final days because there is not a caregiver at home or because there are around-the-clock hospice caregivers available at the facility. Short-term respite stays offer caregivers some relief.
As he toured the facility, the bishop visited several patients in their rooms, chatting briefly and offering his blessing.
He also saw the new sunroom that was transformed last year from a lightly used screened porch area into a welcoming, bright, all-season room with carpeting, ceiling fans, a kitchen area, tables and chairs where patients – if they’re able – and their families can gather. There also is a spacious patio outside the glass doors that is landscaped and furnished with umbrella tables, chairs and other patio-type furniture. Graham said it’s a popular place for employees to eat lunch or for families to take a break and enjoy the scenery. Holy Family overlooks a large wooded area with deer and other wildlife.
The bishop also saw Holy Family’s large chapel, which has a balcony-like area on the second floor that can accommodate bedridden patients, allowing them to attend Mass. A priest offers Mass daily. The rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet also are prayed regularly. About 55% of the patients are Catholic, Graham said.
The end of life is a difficult time for the families and patients, Graham said, but the Holy Family staff and a dedicated group of volunteers work to help them emotionally and spiritually. She said the home hospice program operates with the same philosophy.
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