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Patient Stories

Respiratory Patient Gets to Travel and Live the Best Life She Can

Among all her life’s travels and adventures, Care Dimensions’ hospice patient and Littleton resident Patricia Kolarik, 74, has a standout favorite: New York City.

“I’ve visited 48 U.S. states and lived in Canada and Europe, but I had never visited Manhattan,” she says. So last Thanksgiving, Patricia decided it was time to make her dream trip.  

Earlier in 2018, Patricia had suffered complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including hospitalizations for pneumonia and bronchitis and her physician recommended that she receive additional support from Care Dimensions’ Palliative Care team. With her reliance on supplemental oxygen and diminished energy, the road trip to New York required some additional planning and collaboration between Patricia, her palliative care team and her family—her daughter, Leslie, and her son, Francis.

Francis accompanied her on the trip, and to conserve her energy, Patricia used a wheelchair while touring the Manhattan sites. The Care Dimensions team also arranged for an oxygen concentrator in her Connecticut and New York hotel rooms so that she wouldn’t have to transport an excessive quantity of portable oxygen tanks.  

The extra planning paid off. “I was tired afterward, but it was a really good trip,” recalls Patricia.  

After she returned, her palliative care team recommended transitioning to hospice care and the additional support of the specialized respiratory care program to help her cope with her increasing symptoms.

Patricia was skeptical. “‘I don’t need hospice!’” she thought.  However, she changed her mind when she and her children discussed her declining health and priorities for how she wanted to live. She also shared her three, must-have wishes:  She wanted to feel good, keep her independence, and travel.  

By providing a full spectrum of hospice care and support services, the Care Dimensions respiratory program could help support her wishes.  In addition to providing medical care, medications and equipment, there would be 24/7 support, education to help her better manage her symptoms at home, and medical coordination to help her travel.

Now, Patricia calls her hospice team “my other little family.” She receives scheduled visits from her nurse case manager, social worker, hospice aide, chaplain, Reiki and massage practitioners, and a music therapist. In between these visits, she receives check-in calls to assess her symptoms and overall wellness and functioning.

 “I really look forward to their visits and those calls,” Patricia says.  She adds: “There’s no hug like a Care Dimensions’ hug.”

Fiercely independent and proud to still live on her own, she also has the support of her family. Her daughter calls daily and visits every weekend and her brother and his wife visit weekly to take her on luncheon and shopping outings.

Thanks to Care Dimensions’ help, Patricia has been able to travel to other destinations and events including the Burlington (Vermont) marathon, a visit to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and her grandson James’ high school graduation.  For each journey, the Care Dimensions team ensures that she has the support and medical equipment to make each trip possible and comfortable.   

Patricia is gearing up for her next two adventures -- driving to Mystic, Connecticut, and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

“Care Dimensions has changed my whole life,” she says. “I’m living the best life I can.”  

Learn more about the Care Dimensions specialized care programs at the website, www.caredimensions.org.

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore,  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 over 100 communities in Massachusetts.

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