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Villa Marie Claire focuses on end-of-life care

Monday August 22, 2011
From left, Renato
From left, Renato "Ray" Faverio, health aide; Raymond Abruscato, patient; and Debbie Imperato, RN, staff nurse, enjoy sharing mail and one another's company at Villa Marie Claire.
(Photos by Janice Petrella Lynch, RN)
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Fiction: Hospice hastens death. Fact: Patients receiving hospice care often live longer. Fiction: Hospice means "giving up." Fact: Hospice offers hope and a sense of control and choice.

At Holy Name Medical Center's Villa Marie Claire, a 20-bed inpatient residential hospice for patients, RNs and the interdisciplinary team offer care and comfort to patients who are in advanced stages of life-limiting illnesses, such as cancer, congestive heart disease, pulmonary disease, end-stage renal and liver disease, neurological diseases, dementia and stroke. The first facility of its kind in Bergen County, Villa Marie Claire opened in January on a 26-acre estate in Saddle River, N.J.


Along with conventional pain and symptom management, patients participate in a broad range of integrative therapies, such as massage, art therapy, pet therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy, horticulture therapy and Reiki. From left, are Jean Leone, RN, executive director and clinical administrator, and Lisa Kauffman, RN, staff nurse.
"RNs and the interdisciplinary team emphasize that hospice is a place to rest, to be safe and comfortable during this part of life's journey. It provides care focused on the quality of the moment, safety and protection," said Jean A. Leone, RN, BS, MS, executive director and clinical administrator, hospice and palliative services at Holy Name Medical Center and Villa Marie Claire. "If I could change one thing, I would have patients come to us earlier, rather than in their last few days. People are understanding the concept and I am committed to getting this education out to everyone."

As a high school student, Leone helped a friend whose mother was treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for breast cancer. That experience showed her nursing was her calling. "Villa Marie Claire is the culmination of the vision I have always dreamed could prevail. I have spent close to 30 years building the foundation for the programs we are developing and implementing. The dream is becoming a reality, thanks to the commitment of Mike Maron, CEO, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Peace," Leone said.

RNs, advanced practice nurses, physicians, social workers, bereavement specialists and chaplains are part of the interdisciplinary team, all of whom are trained in interfaith and multicultural traditions.

"For example, our team understands that the Buddhist patient may not want his pain level to be at zero, or that for our Korean patient, there are times to talk and times to not talk," Leone said.

Because of the life and death issues they must face with patients who range in age from 30 to 100 and have a broad range of medical diagnoses, staff attend support groups and receive counseling from bereavement specialists and chaplains, who are available 24/7.

Lisa Kauffman, RN, CCRN, is a staff nurse who has worked in the ICU at Holy Name Medical Center for the last 22 years, and over the last three years, she has worked part time at Villa Marie Claire. "I am part of our patients' and their loved ones' lives during a sacred time, and when our patients transition, we continue to support family and significant others through our visits, phone calls and group classes." Kauffman has been cross-trained as a community nurse and also visits patients who are at home on hospice care.

Debbie Imperato, RN, DC, staff nurse, worked at Holy Name for eight years in oncology before coming to Villa Marie Claire when it first opened. Imperato changed from a chiropractic career to become an oncology nurse when her mother died of breast cancer. "I wanted to share with patients and their families what I experienced first hand with my mother, and at Villa Marie I love that families, loved ones and pets can be present and involved here whenever they wish," Imperato said.

For more photos, visit www.Nurse.com/gallery/VillaMarie.


Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, is a regional reporter. Send letters to editorNJ@nurse.com or post a comment below.