Lead Respiratory Therapist Denise McCoy, RRT, left, and Medical Director Christine Petzing, MD

Welcome to Extraordinary Stories of Empath Health. In this space we highlight our fantastic colleagues and the extraordinary work they do to make Empath Health’s Full Life Care a daily reality for the patients and families we serve. Join us as we demonstrate the ways in which our colleagues exemplify Empath’s core values: Eternally Hopeful, Profoundly Helpful, Lovingly Truthful, Confidently Skillful and Courageously Impactful.

A Suncoast Hospice patient made what seemed like a simple request. She wanted to spend her final days at home, surrounded by family members and pets.

Making that wish a reality, though, was far from simple. It required the collaboration of several Suncoast Hospice teams. Suncoast Hospice is a member of Empath Health and serves patients and families in Pinellas County.

Under the direction of Medical Director Christine Petzing, MD, the Admissions, Crisis Care and Therapies teams came together to deliver the patient home and make her comfortable.

The 60-year-old end-stage ALS patient was at BayCare Alliant in Dunedin when she was admitted to Suncoast Hospice. She expressed her desire to go home to Dr. Petzing, Admissions RN Marshal Worrell and Lead Respiratory Therapist Denise McCoy, RRT. The three clinicians immediately put together an action plan. With help from SunStar Paramedics, the Admissions and Crisis Care teams succeeded in transporting the patient home.

RN Anita Connolly

RN Danielle Lalande

But the job was far from finished. The patient had undergone an emergency tracheotomy and experienced discomfort. She feared she would be in excruciating pain and feel like she was suffocating. Though the patient declined rapidly during her final three days at home, Dr. Petzing, McCoy and Crisis Care RNs Anita Connolly and Danielle Lalande worked together to make sure she didn’t suffer. The patient even got to taste her favorite food, guacamole, one last time.

When it was time for her to be withdrawn from the ventilator, the patient expressed gratitude for what the Suncoast Hospice teams did to get her home. She died a few hours later, surrounded by her husband, children and two dogs.

“We worked as a team and did what we do best. This is exactly why each of us do what we do,” McCoy said.

Empath Health is looking for extraordinary people to join our team. Learn more about our current job opportunities at EmpathCareers.org.