The stained-glass wall in the church of the Community Hospice House represents a menagerie of animals quietly experiencing the woodlands, water and air. It’s a field full of life. And life is the focus in this place where individuals come to die. Dee Pringle’s spouse, Gene, spent his last two weeks of life here four years ago. Her spouse had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and was getting treatment at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dee, a retired instructor who lives in Amherst, was looking after him in their house. “And I was excellent,” she said. “I was really excellent.”
But as Gene’s illness developed, his physicians suggested hospice care. For three months, hospice nursing staff offered support and proper care to Gene at home. Then they suggested a move to the 10-bed hospice house run by Home Health & Hospice Care, a charitable organization in Merrimack. And just like that, the pressure of medical care moved to the professionals, Pringle said. “My part was just to be with him.” She calls it “magical.””Those last few days that are valuable, the medical parts are being taken care of and you don’t even have to think about that because the qualified individuals have taken over.” It was also a great comfort to her spouse, she said. “He could rest. “Pringle can’t say enough about the services offered at the property, from food supervisors who serve residents’ wants and needs, to visits from musicians, therapy dogs and Reiki massage treatment practitioners.
She still gets together with members of a bereavement support team she met after her spouse’s death and visits some of the per month academic programs the organization offers. Her son, Frank, said having the professional employees at the hospice house take over the medical care of his dad in his last days was a convenience to the entire family. Home Health & Hospice Care has its origins in a women’s organization that took care of sick employees and their children in Nashua in the late Nineteenth century. The Good Cheer Society became one of the first viewing health professional organizations in the country.