A North Texas hospice employee dying of cancer ended up being the beneficiary of the very type of care she once helped provide.
As admissions coordinator for Faith Presbyterian Hospice, Debra Looper frequently spoke to new patients' families about end-of-life issues. She explained specialized pain relief and therapies and programs designed to comfort body and spirit.
Her co-workers said she was instrumental in helping relieve the stress families experienced, as
"She could answer questions, give them the basic answers of what is hospice,” said social worker Liz Nichols. “A lot of people call in without knowing that hospice is more than just the last 24 hours of your life."
Looper became a hospice patient this year and was on the receiving end of care she once advocated for patients. She also benefited from the hospice’s Faithful Wishes program, which was one of her favorites.
"Our Faithful Wishes program is very similar to Make-A-Wish, except it's granting wishes to terminal patients during their last six months, up until their death,” said Carol Weaver, director of volunteers and life enrichment.
Faithful Wishes was designed by Weaver to fulfill a patient’s cherished wish with the help of volunteers and donors. Over the last five years, employees here have granted more than 120 faithful wishes -- some big, such as the former pilot who wanted to fly one last time. Some are small.
"I had a little lady that was 82 that had never been on a train ride, and all she wanted to do was ride on a train,” Weaver said.
Looper’s wish was simple. She asked for pansies she could see from her bedroom window.
With plants and pots donated by Jackson's Home and Garden, Debra’s co-workers and volunteers created a special garden.
“She actually walked around the garden herself late that afternoon with a big smile on her face,” Weaver said. “I think she was very pleased to know her last wish was granted."
Looper died two days later.
Her co-workers said they think her story is a good example of what hospice can do for families: make a patient's finals days more peaceful and comfortable.