Giving Patients and Families the Respect and Compassion They Deserve

“My father received hospice care in the early ‘90s and my family’s experience with that organization was not good,” shared Chris DelGrande, RN, Director of Home Hospice, York. “As a nurse, I knew patients and families deserved better during such a difficult time. It took a few years after his death for me to come to the realization that hospice care was my true calling – to make a difference in someone’s end-of-life journey and give them and their family the respect and compassion they deserve.”

Chris joined Hospice & Community Care in 2012 as a Registered Nurse in the organization’s Home Hospice program, and was later promoted to charge nurse and then to team leader. In 2021, Chris was promoted to Director of Home Hospice, York, where she oversees daily operations in the York office and provides support to Home Hospice team leaders and staff. “In my new role, I enjoy being able to mentor staff and work closely with other clinical directors to develop ways that we can provide next level quality care for our patients,” shared Chris. “Hospice & Community Care has the most amazing employees. I have always felt supported, appreciated and valued.”

Chris has had many memorable experiences over her last ten years with Hospice & Community Care. One that stands out the most was an admission visit. “I arrived at the patient’s home, he was in his bedroom and his wife and daughter greeted me,” recalled Chris. “We spoke for a while. I explained hospice care and listened to the patient’s wife tell me about his recent decline and the story of their life together. She reminisced and told me how he was always there and took such good care of her. ‘He’s my angel,’ she said. I asked permission to go into his room to do my assessment. I walked in and I could tell that he was making end-of-life changes, which I was not expecting to see after just discussing his status with his wife and daughter. As I was completing my assessment, his breathing changed and I could tell that it would not be long. I explained to his wife and daughter that I felt he was going to die soon. They came into the room and said their goodbyes. I remember his wife was sitting on the bed holding his hand and I was watching his breathing. She reached for my hand and squeezed it, looked up at me and said, ‘You are my angel. I am so glad you are here.’ When I looked back at the patient I noticed that he had taken his last breath. I placed my hand on her shoulder and told her, ‘And now he is your angel in Heaven.’ It took a moment for her to realize what I had just said. She clung to both of our hands and looked at me and thanked me for being there. While I was only there for two hours, I knew I had made a difference for them during that time.”

Chris shared that someone who is thinking about a career in end-of-life care, “should not be intimidated by dealing with death and dying, it is the most rewarding job that you will ever have at the most important time in someone’s life.”

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