CHESTERTON | It began 30 years ago with 22 terminally ill patients and their families.
Since then, The Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County Hospice Program has helped more than 11,000 people live their final days with peace and dignity.
Patient William “Pete” Crumpacker, 87, his wife, Louise, 85, and their children are among the many families who've been touched by hospice.
“It's been a blessing,” said William's son, Pete Crumpacker. “They're experts at what they do.”
VNA Hospice is Porter County’s only nonprofit hospice care program, providing pain management and symptom control, in addition to psychosocial, emotional and spiritual support.
The hospice team includes Medical Director Michael Weiss, registered nurses, social workers, volunteers, clergy, occupational therapists, physical therapists, chaplains, home health aides and dietitians.
Patients receive care at their residence or at the VNA Arthur B. and Ethel V. Horton Hospice Center in Valparaiso.
William Crumpacker is being cared for in his Chesterton home, not only by hospice but by his family, who've dubbed themselves Team Crumpacker.
Brightly colored pieces of construction paper cut out in the shape of hearts hang from his bedroom ceiling and a poster celebrating his recent birthday is taped to the wall across from his bed.
“Happy Birthday, Daddio! We love you,” the poster reads.
The family also shows its love in other ways.
“The kids all get into the bed with him and sing to him,” Louise said.
Coming together is nothing new for the Crumpacker family, who lost two children to untimely deaths, one to an accident, the other to a brain tumor.
The deaths brought the family closer together and taught them the importance of expressing their love for one another each day because of how fragile life can be.
“Everybody started at that time to be a team,” Louise said.
Though the family is focused on caring for William, hospice workers also make sure they are caring for themselves.
“The family has to be reminded to take care of itself,” social worker Stephanie Paduch said.
For Louise, peace of mind comes from knowing hospice is only a phone call away, even in the middle of the night.
“They've given me the assurance they'll always be there,” she said.