More than anything, Alois Szczpenaiec, known as “Al”, wanted to stay in his home of 67 years. Because of Sister Martha, Stacy Arnst, Maureen (Mo) Sullivan and the many caring staff of Catholic Health’s LIFE (Living Independently for Elders)/PACE program, Al got his wish.
Al spent a lifetime building a family, memories and beautiful furniture. He worked for the Kittinger Company for 43 years and helped to modify President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet chair and the White House “fireside chairs,” often photographed with the president and visiting heads of state.
As his sons, grandchildren and later great-grandchildren started their households, he made furniture for them. Until his death, he found great pleasure in visiting his extended family and in turn, his furniture.
At age 94, Al had an episode that landed him in Kenmore Mercy Hospital where his son Richard first learned of the LIFE program.
After being discharged from the hospital, the LIFE van began to come to his house weekly to pick him up in his wheel chair and take him to the program co-located with the Mercy Nursing Facility at OLV. There he would receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, a shower, lunch and spend some time visiting with other seniors.
His son Richard said, “He loved going to the center. Al also had all medical checkups there so it was as good for me (as his caregiver) as it was for my Dad.”
The following year, Al had another episode. Mo and his doctor explained his options to Al and his family. They gave him information on pain management and how to continue without another hospital admission. From that point on, the van came for Al two days a week and aides came in three days a week to help him in his home.
At Christmas, Al and his family celebrated the traditional Christmas Eve Vigilia. Al ran into new difficulties that night. His family called the LIFE/PACE program staff for help. At 11:30 Christmas Eve a LIFE/PACE nurse came to his home to provide assistance. On Christmas Day, Mo and Dr. Naughton came out to check Al’s condition. Richard says, “This was just one more example of the care and service we received.”
As the end drew near, Mo came out to see the family and told them what to expect, what they could do for Al and gave them a plan to manage his end of life. When Al went quietly to his heavenly reward, the family called Mo again and she came out and confirmed his passing.
Richard said of the LIFE program, “They did a lot for my Dad, for me and my family. I don’t know what we would have done without them. I can’t say enough about the program.”