My first Magazine - Page 14

Serving with Nothing h’s Home St Josep f o r te is nd a S patients ia Goh a hospice Dr Cynth to g in d n atte ttom photo) to) and Sr Geraldine Tan (bo Dr Ee Peng Liang (top pho er volunteers eag to e introduce hospice car conducting workshops to 12 | St Joseph’s Home friends in the Canossian Sisters who could clearly see the need he was talking about, given their daily interaction with the elderly and the dying. Sr Mary recalls, “We told him ‘We don’t know how to start or run a hospice, but we can help you.’” Dr Ee went and got the blessings of the Singapore Council of Social Service of which he was the President. Then the Sisters emptied two storerooms at St Joseph’s Home, put in some simple furniture and the hospice movement was born. The year was 1985. Their first hospice client was their fellow Sister’s mother. Says Sr Mary, “Her mother was dying and her brothers were crying, they didn’t know what to do. Our Mother Provincial called the home to ask if the sister’s mother could be sent here now that St Joseph’s Home has a hospice service. We took her in to the only bed that was available then. Some of her brothers thought it very ‘malu’ (embarrassing) to send a loved one to an aged home. Others disagreed. So the hospice room became the family room.” Slowly, people came to learn of the hospice care St Joseph’s provided. A journalist wrote about it, but at the request of the Sisters, made no mention of the location. The journalist simply ended the article saying ‘if you want to volunteer there, write to me’. Hundreds of letters came pouring in. Tea parties had to be set up to explain what hospice care was to the aspiring volunteers, Says Sr Mary, “Dr Anne Merriman - one of the doctors who came in after the hospice was set up, told the doctors under her to use morphine every four hours even though their medical training taught them to do so only three