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It’s the Season of Giving

Jeff Battershall, son of Phil Battershall, shares his thoughts on his family’s experience with Emmanuel Hospice.

“Even though you might be expecting that call, you’re never really ready to hear: ‘It’s time. You should come to be with your father.’

Emmanuel Hospice was waiting when I arrived, ready to support me and my mother, Shirley, as we prepared to say goodbye to my father, and her husband, Philip, after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s.

You’re still not ready to let go, but the team at Emmanuel understands what’s about to happen – and the emotions people are going through. They understand what the family needs, and they provide that so effectively and with so much kindness. Emmanuel has an ability to fill a role no one else can fill at that time to help people through that final stage. It’s really their magical value.

My dad was born and grew up in Metro Detroit before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps and serving during the Korean War, where he earned the rank of sergeant. He worked his way through Michigan State University, graduating with a degree in economics and starting his career with Dun & Bradstreet. A year later, he married my mother, an elementary school teacher. The year I was born, my parents moved to Grand Rapids so my dad could join the team at Old Kent Bank, where he led commercial loan operations before retiring after a 30-year career in banking.

But retirement didn’t end his commitment to our community nor to his church. He served on so many boards, giving his time and talents to benefit others. About a decade ago, we noticed that some things had become a little more difficult for him in these volunteer roles. After a lifetime of being perfectly organized, dad would misplace a bill or have difficulty balancing a financial statement. We were already spotting some of the cognitive effects of the disease by the time the Alzheimer’s diagnosis was made.

For the next seven years, my dad was able to share a home in Cook Valley with my mom. As his disease progressed, he moved to the Green House® on the Cook campus, just around the corner from their longtime home. My mom and I appreciated the philosophy of the Green House, which was centered on independence, encouraging my dad to set a schedule that was right for him. She visited daily, and he received exceptional care.

In 2020, my dad’s physician, Dr. Tuyen Nguyen contacted me and suggested dad would benefit from hospice. We were very accepting of Emmanuel Hospice being brought in and the protocols they had to help families and make patients feel comfortable – but with the understanding that we weren’t going to do things now with the aim of artificially extending his time.

Emmanuel was really amazing with what they did to help my dad, both from a personal side and a medical side. On the personal side, he had a team of people who visited him often. Those assigned to him became his friends. He so benefited from the complementary services, especially Music Therapy and Pet Visitors. My mom remembers when Miranda brought her harp and sang to my dad – he loved music and would often sit with his eyes closed and listen, keeping the beat with his foot. He found it soothing – and that was a comfort to my mom, particularly when she had to leave him at night.

We always had dogs when I was growing up, and my dad dearly loved dogs. When COVID protections prevented us from bringing our dog to dad, Emmanuel Hospice Pet Visitors stepped in. My dad really enjoyed those visits, holding the leash and petting the dog. Other Emmanuel team members would read to him, do puzzles with him, help with the basics like showering or get his favorite ice creams, butter pecan and chocolate.

On the medical side, Emmanuel helped significantly in his final stages, working in concert with his caregivers. The hospice team and the nurses were proactively involved in monitoring him and coordinating medications and care with the Green House and Dr. Nguyen. My mom and I could tell this was essential – and it made a difference with my dad’s condition and comfort.

Ours is a small family – it’s just me, my mom, my wife and our daughter. Hospice adds an extra layer of care when it’s needed most. The Emmanuel team are experts in helping someone pass with as much peace and dignity as possible. The process of death is not intuitive or easy for others. People may feel resistance, anguish or fear. Emmanuel is able to help the person who is dying and their family to move forward.

My dad was 91 when he passed away in September. He and my mother had just celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. We are both glad we involved Emmanuel early in his care. My mother called it a gift, commenting how wonderful it was that these services were being offered for our benefit by incredibly warm, kind and wonderful people. That gift continues after his passing through follow-up calls and bereavement services, which my mother finds to be helpful and comforting.

While you may not be ready to make that call, consider how much help and comfort Emmanuel Hospice can provide to a loved one who is in the last chapter of life. Knowing you are giving that person the best help you can is a source of peace to the family.”

With gratitude,

Jeff Battershall, son of Phil Battershall

We can’t do it without you.
Your gift ensures that families in West Michigan receive quality care without the worry of expense. With your help, more stories, laughter and comfort are possible.

The care that Emmanuel Hospice provides goes beyond what Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies pay. Your generosity ensures that families throughout West Michigan will receive quality care without the worry of expense. It means that more stories will be told, more laughter will be shared and more comfort will be provided to families in our community.

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