Gilchrist Celebrates National Grateful Patient Day
September 7 is National Grateful Patient Day. Gilchrist is honored to receive words of gratitude from our patients and families every day. Some write letters of gratitude, which mean so much to our staff, while others thank their team members in person. Recently one of our patients provided a wonderful video testimonial expressing her gratitude to her hospice care team at Gilchrist Center Howard County. In honor of Grateful Patient Day, we are sharing her video and story.
Camille Gustus, an artist and high school photography instructor, was just 50 when she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. The treatments were hard on her, both physically and emotionally, and she was left with more bad days than good. With little promise that further treatments would help, she weighed her options with her oncologist and came to a decision.
“All of a sudden, I became stronger in that moment,” she recalled. “I wanted to be well, but the treatments were not about me being well—they were about hoping to be well.” She decided to instead start hospice, so she could focus on having the best quality of life for the time she had left.
From her first interaction with the team at Gilchrist Center Howard County, Camille felt cared for and comforted. She remembers the nurse at the foot of her bed gently rubbing and patting her ankle, telling her, “It’s OK,” in a soothing and tender voice. And the way people greeted her by name every morning, opened the drapes to let in the sunlight or asked if there was anything she needed. From the ‘comfy’ sheets and cozy room to the delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and camaraderie of the staff—she felt at home.
Camille got to know everyone on the unit. A nurse, social worker, chaplain or aide would stop by just to talk, and she developed meaningful bonds with them. Sometimes conversations were serious—when she was having a difficult day or feeling scared. But just as often, they laughed and joked with each other. She was amazed at how the team seemed to know what she needed, even when she didn’t know herself. All the while, the doctors and nurses kept her symptoms at bay and made her as comfortable as possible.
“They are just exemplary here—truly sincere and authentic,” she said. “They go way above expectations to help patients find comfort in a time that is not comforting, and that is a true gift.”
Camille knew if she were home at her apartment, she would be alone. But at the center, she was never alone, and it was a wonderful feeling. She cherishes the month she has spent at the center and believes the compassion and support of the team have given her the chance to make the most of each precious day.
“Gilchrist is about living your best life toward the end of your life,” says Camille. “Exactly what they promise to do is what they’re doing.”