Hospice patient: There’s no place like home

CHARLES TOWN – Since the beginning of 2013, Eleanor Nagel has lived with a friend, has had two relatively lengthy hospital stays, and has lived in a nursing home. In late October, Nagel decided she wanted nothing more than to go home.

Getting her there would prove to be a challenge, but within about 24 hours, it did happen.

Hospice of the Panhandle social worker Alice Sims visits with patient Eleanor Nagel.

Hospice of the Panhandle social
worker Alice Sims visits with patient
Eleanor Nagel.

Nagel, 59, has been a Hospice of the Panhandle patient since mid-year. In addition to her primary chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, Nagel had several setbacks, including breaking her collarbone and hip, which have resulted in hospital and nursing home stays. Come October, she wanted to be back in her own Charles Town home once again, where she hadn’t been for nearly a year.

“They (the Hospice team) worked really hard to get me here,” Nagel said recently. “It really makes a difference. I don’t have a family.”

Nagel grew up in Rockville, and moved to Crane’s Lane when she was 10 years old. After her parents died, they left the family home to her, which she kept until it was too difficult for her to maintain. She has worked in various jobs throughout the county, including at the courthouse, the race track and for a real estate firm.

The Hospice team, led by social worker Alice Sims, learned about Nagel’s discharge on Oct. 21 and went quickly to work. They arranged for her to get paid caregiver services, water, heat, phone and electric utilities turned on, a hospital bed and groceries delivered, and a Medic Alert system activated. Anyone who has tried to take care of these services knows how difficult it can be to get them activated quickly. To get all the services functioning and the equipment and groceries delivered within 24 hours required an extraordinary commitment.

“On the day that Ms. Ellie was going to be discharged, we went to work quickly,” Sims said. “Once we knew that it was possible, it was a real whirlwind. You know that saying, ‘It takes a village?’ Well, this took a whole village, that’s for sure. But we did it!”

Sims joked with Nagel that when they believed they had thought of everything on that late October day, Sims would be ready to leave, but then suddenly would come up with “one more thing.”

“At the end of the day, once we got her settled, Ms. Ellie told me, ‘Boy, I’m tired.’ I laughed and said I was, too!”

Nurse team leader Erin Rouse said that Alice did an “absolutely wonderful job” helping to get Nagel home.

“She worked non-stop from the time we learned on Monday morning she was coming home. And the patient was back home Tuesday. It was a huge team effort, but Alice really spent a ton of time getting this done for her.”

Sims is the kind of person who always has a smile on her face, and is always cheerful and ready to take on any task, Rouse said. Nagel felt the warmth of that smile on a recent cold fall day. As the two of them sat next to each other on the hospital bed, Nagel pointed out the window to a squirrel that was eating seed from a bird feeder.

“He’s a chubby one, isn’t he,” Nagel asked.

Sims responded with a smile. “He sure is!”

— November is National Hospice Month. For more information about Hospice services or to schedule a free informational visit for you or your loved one, call 304-264-0406


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