Samaritan: Part of the Global Palliative Solution

World Hospice & Palliative Care Day
October 11, 2014

There’s a saying, “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

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Never was that more true than when it comes to global access to palliative care. Earlier this year, The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance published the first Global Atlas on Palliative Care at the End of Life with the World Health Organization. This report highlighted:

  • A staggering 42% of countries have low or no access to hospice and palliative care services
  • Only 20 countries have palliative care well integrated into their health systems
  • 80 % of countries globally have low or very restricted access to strong pain medications

What does this mean? That more than 6 billion children and adults around the world are living and dying in pain and distress with little or no quality care and of the 58 million people dying annually, about 80% would benefit from palliative/hospice care in their final days.

These sobering facts prompted the World Health Organization to pass its first stand-alone palliative care resolution. This groundbreaking resolution calls on all member states to integrate palliative care and pain relief into their national health systems.

To call attention to this global imperative, the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance marks October 11 as an annual day to raise awareness for, and understanding of the different needs of people with a life-limiting disease wherever they may live.

Samaritan’s mission to recognize the unity of life and our connectedness with each other, those we care for, our community, and our world – has long honored our commitment to increased access to comfort care.

In 2010, we furthered our global connectedness by partnering with Kawempe Home Care, a community based organization in Kampala, Uganda. Our partnership activities have included:

  • Conducting staff development and education through Skype visits and online learning
  • Sponsoring reciprocal humanitarian visits/educational missions to New Jersey and Uganda
  • Supporting Kawempe’s Beads for Education program through the sale of more than $40,000 in jewelry hand-made of recycled paper with proceeds sending hundreds of children to school
  • Directly sponsoring school tuition by individual and group donations (kept strictly separate from any donation to Samaritan).

Through this life-enhancing partnership, Samaritan has clearly chosen to be part of the solution. Our efforts were recently recognized by Global Partners in Care, an affiliate of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

If you would like to get involved – including becoming part of our next humanitarian mission to Uganda in February 2015, please contact Joanne Rosen at 856-552-3254 or

A Grieving Heart Soothed

She’ll never stop missing her husband and mother, but
Samaritan’s grief support services and “giving-back” memorial gifts
have helped ease Marlene Zaorski’s way.

FavoriteLeft: Marlene Zaorski with Bereavement Counselor Mary Parsons

John Zaorski’s journey through a “very painful” bile duct cancer was only nine months from time of diagnosis,” says Marlene, his wife of 49 years. “We missed our 50th Anniversary by only 11 months.”

John received care from another hospice but his pain remained unresolved. He transferred to Samaritan’s Inpatient Hospice Center only during the last week of his life, “but that week was a life saver,” says Marlene. “It still makes me cry. Caring staff members were like angels – so compassionate.”

Months later, Marlene was surprised at how helpful Samaritan’s continuing bereavement services were in helping her deal with two significant losses. Her mother had died in May 2011, just a little over two years before John. “All of a sudden, you wake up and say, ‘I don’t have a mother or a husband anymore. What’s going on?’”

Like many who are grieving, Marlene found comfort in knowing that all the feelings she was experiencing – physical and emotional – are a normal part of the grief process. “I learned I was not crazy and I was not alone,” she says, after taking part in Grieving the Love of Your Life, a grief support group offered through Samaritan’s donation-supported Center for Grief Support.

The Center’s Coping with the Holidays presentation last December helped her weather her first Christmas without John. “It was interesting to hear coping suggestions from the counselor, but also to learn how others in the session would approach the holiday. For some, it was remembering with an empty chair at the table; others were going away for the holiday to get out of the house.”

Marlene has continued her grief journey in individual sessions with Bereavement Counselor Mary Parsons. “It’s wonderful to have someone to talk with about things that you’d rather not upset your kids with, since they also are grieving.”

Though Marlene will never stop missing her loved ones, her counselor has encouraged her to be “stronger and more independent – almost like a ‘coming out.’” She thanks God for the companionship she finds in her Holiday Village East adult community, and her enjoyment of a variety of new volunteer and social activity groups.

Her goal is to volunteer for Samaritan when she concludes her counseling. In the meantime, she and her family have felt great satisfaction in giving back to Samaritan through annual giving and memorial gifts in lieu of flowers at John’s funeral. “The care has been so wonderful; we felt we just had to do this!”

Contact the Center for Grief Support at (856) 596-8550.

CAREGIVER UNIVERSITY The School You Didn’t Plan to Attend

On life’s journey, we research and plan for many things like buying a house, saving for college, celebrating a wedding, and enjoying retirement. While these milestone events give us homework and life-assignments, preparing to pass the caregiver test is one life event we don’t adequately prepare for.

Caregiving – providing help to a parent or elderly loved one – is something many family members find themselves thrust into, usually without warning or the benefit of a Caregiver 101 course.

“No caregiving experience is exactly the same. But, there are ways you can educate yourself about potential needs your parent may have and the supports that are available to them.” says Nancy Carman, Director of Geriatric Care Management at SeniorWise Care Management.

Preparation is key to avoid crisis planning and to prevent some of the stress of pressured legal, financial and health care decisions. “Think of it as the difference between cramming for that final exam versus studying for it throughout the semester,” she says.

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Here are some study guide tips to help you graduate with honors from Caregiver University.

1. Discuss Your Loved One’s Wishes – Ask your parents “what if” questions to explore their wishes and feelings about aging. Start with the elder easier questions, such as how long would they like to work or how they envision their senior years. As the conversation continues – over days, weeks or months, you can work your way up to asking the more difficult questions. This can include how finances are handled, their ideal living situation, and thoughts about what kind of caregiving help they would be comfortable with. Having the Timely Conversation>>

2. Prepare Necessary Legal Documents – As your parents age, it becomes increasingly important for them to complete and regularly update legal documents, providing clear instructions should they become unable to communicate. Without these documents, disagreements among family members may arise and important choices that honor the elder’s wishes go by the wayside. These documents include: last will and testament, advance health care directive/durable power of attorney (POA) for health care, consent for release of information, and durable power of attorney (POA) for finances. Your elder’s physician may also have them complete a POLST form (Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) as their illness(es) advance. Online Five Wishes

3. Create a Team – Work with your parents or elderly loved one to create a list of physicians and others professionals currently providing them with health care services. Identify family members who will be involved in providing care. If there are any gaps in the team, identify the appropriate “expert” to fill that gap. These experts may include geriatric care managers, home health care aides, or companions. SeniorWise Team>>

As you begin planning for your loved one’s future, SeniorWise Care Management can help guide your family through the planning process. The experienced geriatric care managers at SeniorWise act as professors and coaches, helping families determine the best next steps for loved ones – from conducting comprehensive care planning assessments to identifying current and future needs to providing advocacy, guidance, education, counseling and support for the entire family.

It’s never too early to begin planning or too late to ask for help.
Call SeniorWise Care Management at (856) 552-5166 to learn more.


Short list of working on Positive Thinking

Originally posted on The World of Pastoral and Spiritual care:

For many of us, the days are stressful and full of moments of cynicism and skepticism.  I find this to be especially true when seeing all that is going on in the world and feeling a loss of control.  As such, being positive and trying to avoid the doldrums can be too much to work towards.  I found this short piece that lists out 6 strategies for positive thinking.  I particularly like the notion that for many, it can be as simple as reframing our thoughts. If the day has you down, perhaps some of the following can be helpful in bringing it back up.

RandR attitude

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

You may have heard the saying that “attitude is everything.”

Whether you want to go that far or…

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Music Therapy Reduces Anxiety Response in Hospice Care

Originally posted on The "H" Word:

 Facing the end of life, your own or a loved one’s, commonly brings with it feelings of anxiety. 

Photo cred - Creative Commons: Melozzo da Forli, Vatican image

Photo cred – Creative Commons: Melozzo da Forli, Vatican image

These feelings may stem from a variety of sources, including emotional, psychological, spiritual or social. Medications, physiological changes in the body due to the progression of illness may also contribute to anxiety in patients on hospice care.

Let’s examine several anxiety scenarios and how music therapy may be applied as a safe, efficacious and cost-effective way to reduce anxiety in patients and their loved ones:


When a hospice patient experiences dyspnea, or shortness of breath, anxiety and panic may exacerbate the condition and create in the patient a cycle of dyspnea-induced anxiety. The more panicked the patient feels, the more breathless he or she gets, which, in turn, leads to more anxiety. This cycle of anxiety can often be interrupted…

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Honoring Master Sergeant Armando Marino

On a warm summer afternoon in a modest home about a block from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, one man’s family and hospice team gather to honor him for his service to our country.

Master Sergeant Armando Marino spent 26 years in the Air Force and served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.  Today, Armando, 84, sits in his family home with his wife Rita, 78 – he is living with cardiac heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease.

Armando and Rita Marino

Armando and Rita Marino

However, today is no ordinary day for Armando and his family. Today, Armando will be honored for his dedication and service to our country.

Armando’s Samaritan hospice team, with the help of Samaritan volunteer Lance Corporal Chris Mora, stand proudly before him and surprise Armando with the Burlington County Military Service Medal as a Thank You for his military service to our country.

Armando with Samaritan volunteer Lance Corporal Chris Mora

Armando with Samaritan volunteer Lance Corporal Chris Mora

Hospice Social Worker Colleen Fritsch begins the moving tribute to Armando, “You answered the call to duty by enlisting in 1951… and serving in Korea, Vietnam, and Guam, and at bases in Hawaii, California and North Carolina.”

“We thank you for your integrity, discipline and obedience,” adds Nurse Angela DeNight.

Overwhelmed by the surprise, Armando whispers, “I’m so honored. I’m so honored to have served. Thank you.”

Rita, Armando’s wife, replies with tears in her eyes, “I’m so proud of him.”

“We know you, too, are not without sacrifice, Rita,” says Chaplain Anne Butts. Thank you for all you’ve done to support Armando and care for your family.”

Anne affixes a special Samaritan “We Honor Vets” pin to Rita’s lapel.

Armando with his hospice team. From left: Social Worker Colleen Fritsche, Chaplain Anne Butts and Nurse Angela DeNight

Armando with his hospice team. From left: Social Worker Colleen Fritsch, Chaplain Anne Butts and Nurse Angela DeNight

Armando and Rita have stood by each other’s sides from the beginning. They first met when Armando was stationed in New Hampshire. Both were at the same dance, but they didn’t cross paths initially. It wasn’t until Armando spotted Rita across the local diner after the dance that the two were finally introduced!

The lovely pair will celebrate 58 years of marriage on September 1st.  They have two children, Thomas and Daniel, and 6 grandchildren.

Over the couch in the living area of this 50-year-family home – at its rightful place in the center of the room – is a large painting of a young Rita in a black velvet dress against a water-like, aqua-blue background.

With delight, Rita explains, “This was an 11th anniversary present from Armando. While in Korea, he asked me to send him a picture of myself. So I did.”

She smiles and looks at her husband lovingly.

“When it arrived,” she continues. “I put it in the back of my car and drove all the way to New Hampshire (from Fort Dix) to show my family!”

Armando's painting of Rita. A gift for their 11th wedding anniversary.

Armando’s painting of Rita. A gift for their 11th wedding anniversary.

Turns out, Armando never had art lessons. But, his love for Rita shines through in his delicate, detailed brush strokes.

We Honor Vets

Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice strives to honor veterans as part of a national an initiative, We Honor Veterans, a program created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Samaritan has been recognized with four-star status in the We Honor Veterans program – one of only 4 hospices in New Jersey — and one of 179 of more than 5500 hospices nationwide to earn this prestigious designation.

Samaritan’s participation demonstrates its commitment to supporting veterans through serious illness and end of life and honoring their service to our nation.

Thanks to the work of a dedicated hospice team and Samaritan’s mission to honor veterans, one family is able to gather together today to honor their patriarch for his service to our country – and, in the process, celebrate the ever-lasting love of a husband and wife.



Armando holding his Burlington County Military Service Medal

Armando holding his Burlington County Military Service Medal