When someone is terminally ill, the final stages of life can be a time of great sadness and stress.
“Medicine can only do so much,” said hospice and palliative care physician Dr. Marios Voulgaridis, “and their body is sort of giving way, and you can’t go forward, and we are concentrating on limiting their symptoms and suffering at the end of their life, and not just them but also to their families.”
Castle Medical Center’s Palliative Care program offers specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.
“A lot of people when they hear the phrase ‘hospice and palliative care,’ they get scared,” said Voulgaridis, “but they shouldn’t be, because our goal is to make sure that their wishes are granted and their symptoms are relieved.”
Earlier this summer, the medical center held its first “Light Up a Life” fundraising event. Staff members decorated the arbor with beautiful Chinese lanterns. Each one was identified with a loved one’s name and later lit and remained lit every night for two weeks.
“They spend a lot of time here,” said palliative care coordinator Sheri Richards. “They basically live here with us over those few days that they’re here and so we want to make sure that they have some comfort.”
“To be able to sleep here, to be able to eat here, to be able to take a shower here, it’s something important so they don’t have to worry about anything else but their relationship with their loved ones,” Voulgaridis said.
Recently, the team went one step further when they organized a special wedding for Colin “Kimo” Gonsalves who wanted to see his daughter get married before he passed away.
“I’ve seen a lot of families who, in a very sad situation, have had some very beautiful end-of-life memories that they take with them because we offer this service,” Richards said.
“The end of life can be just as beautiful as the beginning of life,” she said.