Hospice keeps family close to the end

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 20, 1999

Sharon Kortz was a woman who loved her family.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

Sharon Kortz was a woman who loved her family.

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She adored her 11 grandchildren.

She always got along well with her co-workers.

She loved to cook and try new recipes.

She was &uot;one terrific gal,&uot; according to her husband, Joe, and four children, Julie, Bill and Jim Kortz of Albert Lea, and Lynn Opp of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sharon was diagnosed with leukemia in September of 1998. She received chemotherapy. But a month and a half after finishing her treatment, when the doctors told her she was terminal, she knew she wanted to live out her remaining days at home.

&uot;She told me she wasn’t afraid to die,&uot; said Joe.

Added Julie, &uot;I’m sure I was more afraid of her dying that she was.&uot;

Joe and the family took care of her, but there came a time in April when her doctor suggested the family get set up with the Crossroads Community Hospice program.

The family had heard of hospice, but really didn’t know what it was all about until they experienced it firsthand.

&uot;At first, they met with all of the family, then came one time a week,&uot; said Bill. Eventually, as Sharon grew more ill, hospice workers came more often, and finally daily.

They took care of her, and most importantly, they helped with her regimen of medication and changes in dosages.

&uot;Some of that changed daily,&uot; Bill added.

The family has nothing but wonderful things to say about the hospice nurses who came to take care of Sharon.

&uot;Mom looked forward to them coming,&uot; Jim said. &uot;They became very good friends, and we never sensed that they were in a hurry to leave.&uot;

Added Bill, &uot;They really kept us informed, and gave us a good feeling of what was going on.&uot;

&uot;It’s a terrific group of people,&uot; said Joe.

Bill said he’s sure that if it hadn’t been for the hospice program, Sharon would most likely have had to spend the last few weeks of her life in the hospital. Crossroads Community Hospice enabled her to live out the last few weeks of her life in the familiar surroundings of her home, and not in the hospital, he said.

Jim said having her at home allowed family members to be with her around the clock the last week. &uot;It’s easier for the family to stay rested that way,&uot; he said. &uot;I think it helps everyone’s all-around attitude.&uot;

What’s more, he said, hospice &uot;took away the medical feeling&uot; of Sharon’s last days, and made it all more human.

&uot;We knew that if we had questions we could call – 24 hours a day,&uot; Bill said.

And while it’s never easy to watch a loved one die, it did help to know her wishes were being honored, the family said.

&uot;Fortunately, we’re a close family,&uot; Bill said.

After Sharon died on June 23, 1999, the hospice program didn’t leave the Kortz family behind. The nurses made all the necessary calls after she died. And they still remember the family.

&uot;They’ve offered different programs,&uot; Joe said. &uot;They’ve kept in contact.&uot;