Healing Hands Award: Nancy and Skippy Weinstein Inpatient Hospice and Palliative Care Center Nursing Team

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As an emergency medical technician, Karen Zatorski was used to being in the middle of health-related traumas. She was not prepared, however, for her mother’s upper respiratory infection, which forced Carmela O’Rourke to be rushed to the Sameth Emergency Department at Morristown Medical Center.
 
As her condition took a turn for the worse, the 77-year-old Morris Plains resident was transferred to the Nancy and Skippy Weinstein Inpatient Hospice and Palliative Care Center.
 
Soon after, O’Rourke’s health spiraled downward again, and the nurses began hospice care. For Zatorski and her four siblings, it was tremendously sad, as they knew they were losing their mother. Despite the bleak circumstances, they were amazed at how beautiful and loving the nurses made this difficult time for them. The experience led them to give a Healing Hands Award tribute gift in honor of the nursing staff at the Weinstein Center.
 
“We can’t begin to express how grateful we are,” Zatorski said. “It goes beyond writing a check. You don’t know until you go through it.” The Weinstein Center nurses never failed to show compassion and respect in every interaction. They wiped O’Rourke’s face with warm washcloths and rubbed lotion into her hands and feet.
 
“My mom had a stuffed rabbit and a prayer shawl — these were soothing and comforting items for her; the nurses always made sure mom was comfortable and specifically with those two items close by her face. It wasn’t just like she was a body lying there,” Zatorski said.
 
Music became a big part of the final farewell to their mom. Alix Weisz, a music thanatologist, came by regularly with her harp, and while strumming the chords, O’Rourke would turn her face toward the music.

“It was a sacred and special time for all of us,” Zatorski said. “I want to go and volunteer. I want to go and learn the harp. It’s just so amazing what she brought to us.”

The entire family felt comforted by how well they were treated during the two weeks that their mom was a hospice patient. The nursing staff made sure O’Rourke’s five children took time away from the room to eat or walk outside and take in the sunshine.

“Our favorite time of day was when the ladies would come by with the snack cart, and we would have apple juice, ginger ale, coffee or tea along with Lorna Doones or graham crackers. Funny enough, those were the snacks that mom always had for us during our childhood. It’s all of these little moments that we will hold in our hearts forever,” Zatorski said.

To honor one or more of Morristown Medical Center’s team members with a Healing Hands Award, please visit our Healing Hands page

Pictured above: The late Carmela N. O’Rourke with her late husband Brian J. O’Rourke.

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