Testimony of Gary Kuchta
The memories and stories we gather in our lives are the things we hand onto the tightest. For Steve Kuchta, the stories never dulled and were told to anyone who had a spare minute. Gary, Steve’s oldest son, knows his dad’s stories by heart. To Gary, his dad was always the provider – the strong presence in his life and role model. “Dad was always independent,” Gary Said. “He even drove until he was over 100.”
After an incident following a family member’s birthday celebration the family decided Steve, 103 old, could no longer live on his own. Gary was suddenly a caregiver to his father. “It was tough on us,” Gary said. “We wanted to do what was best for dad, but I was spending all my time with him. I didn’t see my wife much.” In June of 2014 Steve moved to an assisted-living facility in Green Bay where he was referred to Unity.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Gary said. “But the Unity nurse came to our home and basically said ‘We’ll take it from here.’ It was truly amazing. Unity was always there to care for him and make him comfortable. They truly took over all the duties we could not handle. I was able to spend more quality time with him instead of just caring for him.” On the day Steve died, Gary opened his Bible to Psalm 146 and read verses 1 and 2. The last sentence read; “I will sing praises to God with my dying breath.” After the reading Gary looked down and his father had stopped breathing.
Pictured: Gary Kuchta (L) and Steve Kuctha (R)
Testimony of Meredith Young Renard
We are most grateful to Unity Hospice for their wonderful compassionate care of my father-in-law, Victor Renard, in the final days of a nearly 94-year life, and after several years of suffering from Alzheimer’s. Unity supported Vic with the equipment and services needed to make his final days more bearable, had an outstanding medical team caring for him, and had the sensitivity to recognize and accommodate the needs of our family – including Vic’s 93 year old wife - by being available for thorough consultations and updates as needed.
Unity ensured that Vic was kept comfortable and safe, which provided great peace of mind for his sons and grandchildren who all live over 1500 miles away. Unity anticipated and cared for Vic's needs and ours, and not only exceeded our expectations during his final days, but checked in with us just a week after the funeral to see if we needed any further assistance. We cannot say enough about the outstanding services Unity provided. Forever grateful, Meredith Renard, daughter-in-law of the lovely couple pictured - Victor and Dorothy Renard
Pictured: Dorothy Renard (L) and Victor Renard (R)
Story of Stanley Kaczmarek
“Dad had been diagnosed with stomach cancer five years ago. He was only supposed to make it two years. He beat that stomach cancer. Dad was fine until just this past September when he started slowly declining. I felt lost because here you have a loved-one who is terminally ill. You want to keep that person at home but you don’t know how to take care of him. How are we going to get this and how are we going to get that? You feel helpless. And then you find out about hospice. It was a big relief off my shoulders, said Janis Wilson, Stanley Kaczmarek’s daughter.
In November 2015, when Stanley’s health began to deteriorate quickly due to kidney failure, his family knew it was time for a referral to Unity. “Our mother and brother died with dignity. Our father wanted Unity’s hospice care because he saw the excellent care that was provided for my brother,” said Brian, Stanley’s son.
Brian and his wife, Lucy, moved Stanley from the assisted living facility into their own home. “He has given to us all of his life and now this is our turn to give back to him during his final moments. By having Unity, you are able to keep your family member at home instead of the hospital; it is much more personal care. It is such a relief and so gratifying to know that I can help him to the end. I can help him go home. I can do that with the help of Unity,” said Janis.
Through the education and support Unity provided, Lucy was able to recognize when Stanley entered the active dying phase. She called family to his side before he took his last breath. When Janis arrived, she recalled her father didn’t want to go home without wearing his shoes. She quickly placed Stanley’s shoes on his feet and said, “Alright dad, you have your shoes on, you can go home now. You have my permission, go home.”
The look in Stanley’s eyes seemed as though he was not quite ready to go home. Lucy then grabbed a wine bottle and poured wine into small glasses. Remembering her father-in-law could no longer drink, Lucy dipped her fingers into the glass and dabbed Stanley’s lips with wine. The family then all took turns toasting to the great life he lived. Soon after, Stanley took his final breath and was able to go home peacefully. “Unity steps in so when that final moment comes, you know you have done everything possible. You have no guilt. Unity is there to guide you through it all,” said Lucy.
Pictured: Stanley Kaczmarek (L) and Brian Kaczmarek (R)
Story of Janey Renier
Graduation is a special moment in many people’s lives. Typically you graduate from grade school, high school, and for some, even college. For Janey Renier, it was a graduation from hospice.
“All my organs were failing. We don’t know why I got sick. It’s a combination of a lot of different things all going wrong at the same time. I was told I only had a couple weeks to live” said Janey. Diagnosed with malnutrition, edema and one kidney functioning at 25%, the nursing home social worker referred Janey to Unity’s hospice program. “I am so glad and forever grateful to her.”
With the help of Unity’s interdisciplinary team, Janey was discharged from the nursing home to the home she shared with husband Ron. Her symptom management and comfort care began immediately upon her arrival. “When I got home from the hospital, my skin was so sensitive and I wasn’t strong enough to roll over in bed. It was extremely painful, but Robin, our CNA who we fell in love with, did such a good job. Everyone who worked with me was gentle and caring. The level of comfort that these people give you, literally the first or second time you see them - it’s like magic. When you have a team working so closely together, knowing exactly what each patient needs...wow,” exclaimed Janey. While creating Janey’s plan of care, Unity Nurse John discovered duplications of her medications and suggested discontinuing some of them. “I was on one pill from one doctor and then another pill from another doctor for the same thing. With Unity involved, I went from 50 some pills to 20 some pills. All of my doctors were talking together and everyone knew what medications I was on. This really helped a lot. It wouldn’t have happened without John,” explained Janey.
Ron recalls, “Unity covered their bases. Every single time without fail, whoever it was caring for Janey, would say, OK Ron, we are done with Janey, is there anything we can do for you? That just made such a deep impression that they cared about me and our family as well as her. I don’t think you can get anybody better than people who are working for Unity. They are phenomenal. They are very professional and compassionate in working with you. In most cases they can’t cure you. They can only make you comfortable. But in our case it worked out differently.”
With the support of Unity’s care team, Janey’s health improved drastically and she grew stronger. Janey eventually transitioned from Unity’s hospice program to palliative care. She and Ron are now enjoying their retirement years together-thankful every day for the extra time with family. “Unity gave me my life back.”
Pictured: Janey Renier (L) and Ron Renier (R)