VNA Hospice Helps Family Share Graduation Experience
November is National Home Care and Hospice Month. When loved ones face a terminal illness, making the best decisions for their care can be both emotional and overwhelming.
One Omaha family found themselves in a heartbreaking situation. The father, Dan Hooi, was in hospice due to pancreatic cancer. At the same time, his son, Martin, was scheduled to graduate from the University of South Dakota (USD) with the rest of his 2020 classmates.
“My Dad is selfless; he would do anything for anyone else,” said Martin Hooi.
Dan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2020. He underwent chemotherapy, but unfortunately his disease progressed. Dan opted to end treatment, go home and spend his time and resources on his family. “His number one priority has always been his family,” said his wife, Lisa Hooi.
Dan was receiving in-home hospice care from Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). As the VNA hospice team began to see a change in Dan, they asked him what some of his goals were. One of them was to see his son graduate from college on Oct. 15, 2020. Knowing his Dad would not be able to make the trip to see him graduate, Martin decided to skip graduation to spend precious last moments with his father.
VNA nurses knew it was important for Dan to see his only son achieve this important milestone. After numerous calls, VNA nurses connected with the USD video team. With the help of university administration, they put together a personal graduation ceremony for the Hooi family to celebrate together.
“It’s always an honor and a privilege to be welcomed into a home as healthcare workers at this stage in life,” said Keith Smith, VNA Chaplain.
Shortly after the graduation ceremony, Dan passed away peacefully on Oct. 21, 2020.
“We consider taking care of families during this time to be our greatest privilege,” said Aimee Mitchell, VNA Hospice Nurse and Case Manager. When it is time to make hospice decisions, it is not about giving up hope. “It’s about providing families options that help improve their quality of life,” said Mitchell.
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