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Hospice program serves family needs

By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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Despite numerous years in the health care field as a physical therapist and nurse, Marsha Von Dessonneck was not prepared to be a caregiver when her husband Kurt became a patient in the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospice program. “Being a therapist helped prepare me, but being a caregiver was much tougher than I thought it would be, both physically and mentally,” Marsha Von Desoneck, 60, said. Kurt Von Desoneck went to the emergency room at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital in August after complaining about not being able to sleep. It was then discovered that he had pancreatic cancer. “They tried chemo but it didn’t work,” Von Dessonneck said. “He was going down rapidly and I knew it wouldn’t be too long. He was bedridden for the past two weeks.” On Nov. 1, Kurt Von Dessonneck,61, took his last breath in a hospital bed at his north Auburn home off of Highway 49. The former engineer at Super Conductor Technologies Inc. in Santa Barbara was in the Auburn Faith Hospice program just one week. Stephanie Williams, a medical social worker with hospice, visited him before he died. “I did a one-time assessment,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, I only came once because he passed. We try to provide emotional support to the patient’s family.” Von Dessonneck has two sons, 30 and 26, who live in Folsom and Citrus Heights. She’s been coping with her husband’s death by attending a bereavement support group for survivors run by Auburn Faith Hospice. So far, she has attended three support meetings, which are held every month. The hospice population is always changing and the patient can be in it for more than a year or just one day. “We’ve had as many as 40 to 50 families being served by hospice at any one time,” Williams said. “The numbers fluctuate depending on how many deaths or referrals.” Hospice is usually covered 100 percent by Medicare and most private insurance companies, Williams said. “Hospice covers all medication and supplies,” Williams said. The local hospice program provides bereavement services, home health aides, hospice registered nurses, chaplain services and medical social workers. Currently, there are about 20 hospice volunteers who participate in a training program before being given an assignment. Training is offered every three months and covers grief and loss, and communication. “Volunteers enable family members to get away from care giving,” Williams said. “Sometimes they read to the patients or just talk to them.” ______________________ --------------------- How to Volunteer Call (530) 886-6650 To Donate: Checks can be made out to Sutter Auburn Faith Foundation, designated for hospice. Mail to: 11795 Education St., Ste. 224 Auburn, CA 95602-2410 Memorial Bricks: Can be purchased at Sutter Auburn Faith Memorial Hospital to be placed in the hospice garden at the hospital.