ROCKPORT, Maine — “The word ‘comfort’ means ‘to be strong with someone,’” observed Greg Marshall, interim chaplain for Pen Bay Healthcare and Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, in a recent conversation about his work with hospice patients and their families. “I’m not trying to get people to feel a certain way at the end of life – that’s being strong for somebody. I’m there to be strong with them where they are – listening to them, accepting them and understanding them.”
Marshall offers spiritual counsel, guidance and support to patients and families as the end of life approaches. Hospice helps patients and families with a wide range of delicate end-of-life care issues. A hospice physician, nurse, social worker, home health aide, volunteer visitor, chaplain, musicians and massage therapists are among the people whom patients and their families can call on.
“Hospice is about life and living, not death or dying,” said Marshall. “As strange as it may sound, we know that the quality of life can be good at its end and we help people experience this goodness.”
More than half of Kno-Wal-Lin’s hospice patients live at home. While end-of-life care at home is often preferred, there are times when being cared for at home becomes too difficult. Pen Bay Medical Center now also provides inpatient end-of-life care in the hospital’s private, quiet and family-friendly Partnership Care Suite. Three patient rooms have been renovated to look and feel like home, with new flooring, attractive textured fabrics, and walls painted in calming colors. Each room contains a comfortable foldout bed so that visiting family members can rest and even spend the night. Included in the Partnership Care Suite is a light-filled, welcoming family room overlooking Penobscot Bay.
“People find dignity and strength at this time of their lives,” said Marshall. “It’s not necessarily a terrifying, anxious experience. It can be very peaceful. People can be ready for it and welcome it. And many people who have had very difficult and tragic lives are able to say at the end that life was good.”
Chaplain Marshall is available to speak to religious and other organizations about the spiritual value of hospice care. For the schedule of his speaking engagements or to invite him to speak, please call 594-9561.