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Independence Defined Quality of Life for Beverly Veteran

Beverly resident Kenneth "Woody" Wooldridge, 78, enjoyed living life to the fullest. A Vietnam-era Army veteran, he had retired to Florida where he enjoyed a relaxed and sociable lifestyle.

In his early 70s, an X-ray showed a mass on his left lung, and he had it surgically removed, which left his breathing compromised. Woody also had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema, and was also diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that caused recurring respiratory infections. At his doctor’s urging, he moved to Massachusetts to be closer to his daughter, Sandy, a nurse.

In early 2016, he was admitted to Beverly Hospital three times within a month for acute respiratory problems, including pneumonia. Once extremely active, Woody found himself spending more time in the hospital than at his apartment, where he lived independently.

"Life wasn’t worth a damn," he recalled. The frequent hospitalizations depressed him as he started to see his independence slip away.

Beverly Hospital requested a palliative care consultation for Woody with Care Dimensions to help clarify his goals of care. Woody and Sandy met with Robert Warren, MD, medical director of palliative care/assistant medical director of hospice.

"He was tired of going back and forth to the hospital. He wanted to stay home," said Dr. Warren. "We talked about different options of care, and one of those options was hospice care at home. When we explained what hospice entails–visits from a nurse, social worker, home health aide, chaplain, and volunteers–it was exactly what he wanted."

After a brief stay in a rehabilitation facility, Woody was able to resume living on his own and Sandy could worry less about him because the Care Dimensions team was always in close contact and kept her informed. Woody required oxygen constantly, but learned to manage it by listening to his hospice nurse, Wanda Santana, RN. She even taught him how to mount an oxygen tank on his power scooter so he could get around and socialize with friends.

"Since Care Dimensions has been involved, I’ve been able to maintain my independence," reflected Woody last December. "I go down to Dunkin’ Donuts, make my own coffee. I can come and go. That’s great for me." He made the mile-long round trip whenever weather allowed, and was friendly with all the regulars in the store.

"It’s really nice to see that transition of a patient from hospital to home, and see how well they’re doing," said Dr. Warren. "And if things are in crisis, we’re able to support families with our entire team."

"Before, when he got sick and I couldn’t get to him, the only thing he had was the Lifeline, and he’d end up in the hospital," said Sandy. "With Care Dimensions, he would call Wanda, and she’d either advise him how to control his shortness of breath and he’d feel better, or she’d come over and deal with the situation." A couple of times when his symptoms became too acute to manage at home, he was able to go the Kaplan Family Hospice House for care, she added.

"Wanda is a wonder," raved Woody. "She’s a fantastic lady who knows her stuff. Just thinking she’s coming is enough to pull my spirits up."

Sharing his wishes for end-of-life care and choosing hospice with Care Dimensions allowed Woody to live his final months as he wanted: independent and social. Before his death in January 2017, he enjoyed participating in the video that accompanied this article, and teaching others about the benefits of hospice.

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While our website will give you a better understanding about hospice care and the services that Care Dimensions provides, no one can tell the true story quite like our patients, families and staff. We encourage you to take a moment and read their stories and watch our videos.

You’ll be forever changed as you learn about life’s difficult final journey and the amazing patients, caregivers and staff who’ve embarked on the experience together.

Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.