What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. For Marie Barbagallo, it meant being able to see her daughter get married before she died. As Medicare’s first coordinated care model, we must protect the services provided for patients like Marie through the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

As if on cue, the clouds parted and the sun came out on the afternoon of April 13, moments before Care Dimensions hospice patient Marie Barbagallo led her daughter out the Kaplan House patio door and over to the gazebo and her waiting groom. Surrounded by family members, Lindsey and Thomas exchanged vows led by Care Dimensions chaplain Pam Colleran.

It was hard to imagine that this beautiful, longed-for moment had been planned only the day before. Marie, 55, who had valiantly battled pancreatic cancer since her diagnosis in November 2017, had entered into hospice care at home in early April after weeks of escalating pain, nausea and vomiting. Days later, she had come to the Kaplan House for more intensive intervention and medications to manage her symptoms. Though her driving goal had been to make it to the planned wedding in August, with the realization that her symptoms were worsening, she didn’t have a lot of time. Marie finally asked Lindsey if she would be willing to have a ceremony earlier.

And that they did.

Here is what Marie’s daughter Lindsay had to say about her special day and what it meant to her and her mom:

“The Kaplan House staff was amazing. Within 30 minutes, they had everything planned. We talked with Pam about the ceremony, and the social worker, Angela Chang, and Kaplan House clinical director Jen Sawyer coordinated getting a cake, flowers, and a photographer.

“The staff is so responsive and on top of everything. They also really care about learning about what my mom wants and who she is–she’s not just another patient to them. They really involve the family too, giving us updates and explaining what they’re doing and why. They let us help care for our mom, so we’re all part of the team and it’s personal.

“I’m so thankful to everyone at Care Dimensions and the Kaplan House for making this day happen. It worked out perfectly,” said Lindsey. “Toward the end, I could see how tired mom was getting, but she was determined to stay and thank everyone for being there and say goodbye. I’ll remember that forever.”

Marie died peacefully at home with her family on April 30.

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