(Danbury, CT) When Sara Samaha made the trip to Regional Hospice and Home Care Center for Comfort Care & Healing in August of 2015, she believed it would be her last. The 66-year-old had accepted that after two years of battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) her treatment options near her home in Tennessee were limited. The former ICU nurse of 40 years worried about her ability to care for herself, and after careful consideration decided to make the 700+ mile drive to Danbury, CT to be closer to family. She never imagined that the journey she was taking was just the beginning, or that the family she was joining was about to grow.
The staff and volunteers at Regional Hospice and Home Care (RHHC) welcomed Sara with open arms, as they’ve done for the more than 774 patients they have cared for in the past year since the Center opened. Samaha appreciated her new home telling Center volunteer, Deborah “Deb” Pointon that, “the only door that opened for me was this in-patient hospice facility. This decision turned out to be a blessing in disguise for all involved.”
Sara was introduced to Deb upon requesting a volunteer to help write her obituary. The two became fast friends, and their time together took a different turn as Sara’s life progressed in unexpected ways. Although she only expected to live three months, after seven months in the Center’s care, she continued to flourish. At that point, with Deb’s help, Samaha wrote an article detailing the value of hospice care in hopes of helping other patients.
The article stressed that, “the reason hospice works so well is because of all the people who are involved.” It went on to praise the caring group of volunteers who offer everything from personal assistance, to reiki and massage, as well as the dedicated clinicians who attend to a patient’s every physical, emotional and spiritual need. Sara concluded with, “…my quality of life was better maintained and has definitely been prolonged because of hospice. I could not have made a better choice.”
Many Center volunteers and staff were like family to Sara. When asked about her close relationship with Deb Pointon in particular, Sara expressed disbelief in her new friend’s dedication. “I don’t know why she’s continued – I think because – we both love one another…She has become my hands, and my feet, and my communicator.”
There were other unexpected helpers as well, including Tom Kamber, Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) and Crispin Baynes. The two New Yorkers met Sara while visiting RHHC to learn more about legacy journaling and end-of-life decision-making. In speaking with her they learned that she wanted to see the Fabergé eggs at The Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Although her health was worsening, through the assistance of a family member, along with Kamber and Baynes, Sara was able to visit New York City last Thursday.
It was her final trip, as Sara Samaha passed away peacefully six days later. The loss is an especially difficult one for the many people who she touched while at the Center. In a message to staff, RHCC President & CEO, Cynthia Emiry Roy shared, “She said such beautiful things to me about your care. I could not be prouder of all of you. The love and attention you have shown Sara and her family has been so generous. One thing I know for sure – her life, struggle, and time here with us has been a gift. Her indomitable spirit will stay with us now and always.”
Regional Hospice and Home Care’s team of experienced clinicians have been providing physical, emotional, spiritual and bereavement support to children, adults and their families through our palliative and hospice care program for the past 30 years. Regional Hospice and Home Care is a nonprofit, state-licensed and Medicare-certified home health care and hospice agency. Now, with the opening of our new private-room, specialty hospital for palliative and end-of-life care — the Center for Comfort Care & Healing — Regional Hospice and Home Care can bring that same hope and compassionate care close to home and under one roof.
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