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Hospice care provides dignity when losing a loved one

Posted at 9:02 AM, Jan 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 11:02:10-05

GREAT FALLS — Preparation for the loss of a loved one is difficult in more ways than one. From the sudden nature of death, to a terminal illness, to placement in hospice care.

The death that surrounds hospice care, casts a black cloud for families and patients in their final days.

"They’re going to do that regardless of whether they come into hospice or not. Hospice provides resources to make death comfortable and more dignified," explained Michael Bonilla, Bereavement Coordinator for Benefis Peace Hospice.

As one of the largest hospice providers in the State of Montana, Benefis Peace Hospice offers on-campus and in-home care. The Great Falls hospice home has a full nursing staff, individual furnished rooms, and a fully staffed kitchen offering custom ordered meals for families and patients.

"Volunteers have made these hand sewn quilts and every room has a hand sewn quilt that have been donated by volunteers."

The on-campus facility offers round the clock care welcoming in personal decorations to make a space more comfortable to a patient. It also allows pets and cultural rituals to make transition to death more comfortable.

"He wasn’t ready, but he realized that what was happening and just kind of relaxed. I don’t know how else to explain it," said Bernadine Molen, a nine year volunteer.

She's had numerous family members go through hospice care, including her brother. The hospice workers allowed him to find comfort and acceptance in his fate.

Kathy Simonsen, another volunteer didn't understand what the program had to offer patients and family before becoming a volunteer.

"...the nurses do so much more than just have a patient in here." Simonsen said.

Benefis Peace Hospice nurses are the true heroes according to the volunteer staff. All staff members express their love and gratitude toward the dignified nature of the hospice house.

Molen added, "To be a part of someone at the end of their life and to hear their life story. It's an honor."