Niagara Hospice and the Schoellkopf Health Center held a dedication celebration today at David's Path, a dedicated hospice unit on the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center campus.
The new unit, located on the second floor of the Schoellkopf Health Center, is named for David Winker, a beloved Memorial Medical Center employee who spent his final days surrounded by family members while being cared for at Niagara Hospice House in Lockport. David, who passed away last year, had worked at Memorial since 1966 when he was hired as a dietary kitchen helper. He was promoted to senior attendant in 1970 and assigned as a dietary stores clerk in 1983.
David was well known by his colleagues at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center as a man who, except in the wintertime, rode his bicycle to work every day for nearly 47 years from his Town of Niagara residence. The unit is named David's Path, providing a fitting tribute to him and his love of riding.
"In a very real sense, the Memorial Medical Center family was David's family. In the 47 years that he worked here, I don't know that he ever missed a day until he became ill last year," said Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. "David was one of those guys who everybody seemed to know, and we all felt a very real sense of loss when we learned of his passing. Dedicating our new hospice unit for him is our way of saying how much he meant to us."
The newly renovated wing at Schoellkopf that houses the hospice unit is now fully operational. The 10 private rooms have new flooring, new beds and new furniture. Residents there receive specialized hospice services from combined Schoellkopf and Niagara Hospice staff that include physicians, pharmacists, nurses, medical social workers and spiritual care providers, as well as massage therapists, allied therapists, support staff, volunteers and bereavement counselors.
Niagara Hospice President & CEO John Lomeo said, "Niagara Hospice has enjoyed a long-term relationship with Schoellkopf Health Center as a partner in care. When Niagara Hospice was looking to expand its footprint in ways to better serve terminally ill residents residing in nursing facilities, we strategically selected facilities that shared a common mission of caring and commitment to the community, the staff and, most importantly, the residents that call their facility home. Our shared commitment continues through David's Path as we bring more care and more comfort to residents and families on their end-of-life journey."
Hospice services emphasize comfort care for people with serious illnesses. Such care, also known as palliative care, focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness with the aim of improving the quality of life for both the patient and the family. Several studies have found that people with serious, incurable illness who choose hospice care live longer and with better quality of life than those who do not elect the hospice care benefit that is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance.
Hospice care is appropriate for individuals when the prognosis is approximately six months or less to live if the disease were to run its normal course. Patients who live longer than 6 months can often continue on hospice.
For more information about David's Path or to schedule a tour, call Schoellkopf Health Center at 716-278-4578. For more information about hospice care, call Niagara Hospice at 716-439-4417 or visit www.niagarahospice.org.