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EDITORIAL: Chrysalis Room will soon provide a needed service

When a loved one is dying, family members and friends need a supportive environment where they can be with that person through the dying and initial grieving processes.

People who are losing someone through death are the ones who need care and support at that time — often more than the person who is dying — and they need a place where it is comfortable and safe to talk, to embrace, to share their love and concerns, and to say goodbye.

A new Chrysalis Room at the Powell Valley Care Center aims to provide that supportive environment during end-of-life care.

“This is creating a sacred space,” said Loretta Downs, who first envisioned the Chrysalis Room concept. “We do it for births; we need to do it for dying.”

Amenities in the care center’s Chrysalis room include a dinette area, a comfortable sitting area and a pullout couch for family members to sleep on. A snack cart will be stocked with healthy snacks, and staff will provide caring support as needed — both for the person “in transition,” as Downs refers to the death experience, and for those gathered around him or her.

This is a needed service, and we commend Powell Valley Healthcare leaders for taking the initiative to create the Chrysalis Room. Downs, who has advocated for Chrysalis Rooms in nursing homes around the country, said she was thrilled to learn about this one. When we understand the natural death process, we fear it less, she said.

The Chrysalis Room is available to patients in the hospital and to residents at The Heartland and their friends and family members, as well as to nursing home residents.

Funding for the Chrysalis Room comes from the Powell Medical Foundation, through money previously donated to the former PVHC Home Health and Hospice program. Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Tippetts continues to accept donations to pay for the Chrysalis Room service, which is provided at no extra cost.

It is important to note that this is not a hospice room. It is a room where people can gather for peace and support when someone is dying, and it is needed. Nobody wants their final moment with a loved one to be in a cold, sterile hospital room.

But hospice and home health care also are needed, and since the PVHC Home Health and Hospice program closed down last year, those services are unavailable for area residents who live more than 30 miles from Cody. That is the boundary set by West Park Hospital, which has taken over home health and hospice services in this area.

We sincerely hope that circumstances eventually permit the expansion of that boundary, or ideally, that home health and hospice services will again be provided here in Powell.

In the meantime, we appreciate this compassionate effort by Nicole Ostermiller, Powell Valley Care Center director, to provide a comfortable space and a service badly needed by people in end-of-life care and their families and friends.

A public open house for the Chrysalis Room will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday in the North Unit at Powell Valley Care Center.

2 comments

  • posted by Daryl Isenberg

    April 28, 2016 11:37 pm

    Congratulation for embracing this amazing caring vision!

  • posted by Loretta Downs

    April 28, 2016 11:10 am

    I congratulate Powell Valley Healthcare for providing a Chrysalis Room for your community. It is named for the stage of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, a fine metaphor for all transformation. A Chrysalis Room is where loved ones experience a supported, peaceful, gentle end of life in a beautiful environment in which they create a sacred space. Thank you.

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