The Heart of Nursing Excellence - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

The Heart of Nursing Excellence

Hospice Nurse Helps Meet Family’s Needs in Time of Birth and Death

Magnet Demonstration: “The Care Delivery System involves the patient and/or his or her support system in the planning and delivery of care.”

Ida Eckhardt is used to playing a role in a person’s last moments of life. As a Crozer-Keystone Hospice nurse, she helps terminally ill patients feel comfortable in their remaining days. But it’s not often that she plays a pivotal role in the birth of a new life. 

“One of my patients, Connie, was living with her very pregnant daughter, son-in-law and their three children,” says Eckhardt, RN, CHPN. “I got to know the family well and had developed a close relationship with them as I cared for Connie.”

One night in November, Eckhardt says it was evident that her patient’s death was imminent. As Connie began to actively die, her daughter simultaneously started going into labor with her fourth child.

“The daughter was obviously very distraught about leaving her mother at such a critical time,” says Eckhardt. “But I was growing extremely concerned and knew she had to get to the hospital.”

Eckhardt convinced the daughter to go to the hospital, where she soon delivered her fourth child, a son. Realizing what a difficult time the daughter had leaving her mother’s side, Eckhardt knew she had to reunite mother and daughter and allow Connie to meet her new grandson.

“I called over to the hospital and explained the situation in an attempt to get their discharge expedited,” says Eckhardt. “The nurse I spoke with was very understanding and was able to have both mother and son discharged within 45 minutes of my call.”

While waiting for the daughter’s return, Eckhardt cleared the home of all visitors, bathed Connie, and made her comfortable in her bed. She positioned Connie so that the daughter was able to climb into the bed and cuddle with her mom and the new baby. 

“Because I had such a close relationship with this family, I was able to connect with their intimate needs at a very precious point in life and death,” says Eckhardt. “I truly feel honored.”

Eckhardt says that leading up to this, Connie had been very excited about her arriving grandchild. And just two hours after meeting him, Connie peacefully passed away snuggled next to her daughter and her grandson.