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At-home hospice care leaves lasting impression on Fargo family

Sanford Hospice also offers after care for families including counseling and grief therapy.

WDAY stock image.

FARGO — There's nothing easy about losing a loved one, or watching them go through difficult times at the end of their life. At-home Hospice care aims to make things easier.

"The goal is to offer comfort, whether it's adjusting a pain medication, or sharing stories about their lives, or giving a soothing bed bath, holding hand or offering a prayer," said Jenna Clark, a nursing specialist for Sanford Hospice in Fargo.

Clark says a big part of hospice care is not only making sure the experience is comfortable, but that it's easier to embrace.

Pam McGee was a former patient, and her husband Scott Spanjer says that's exactly what they did.

From right to left: Scott Spanjer, Erika Spanjer, Pam McGee, and Isaac Spanjer
Spanjer submitted photo

"They made it fun, you know. It wasn't a heavy feeling when they came in. They really made it personal, and personable and it really helped us get through the journey we were on," Spanjer said.


McGee was well known in the business and education worlds. She was a senior director at Microsoft and then an assistant vice president at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where she touched countless lives. She was part of launching the United Way's 35 Under 35 women's leadership program 12 years ago, and up until her death late last month from stage four lung cancer, she had mentored dozens of women.

"All I can say is Pam touched so many lives, and she had an impact wherever she went," Spanjer said.

Spanjer says it wasn't an easy decision for his wife to quit treatment and come home, but the staff was there within the hour afterward.

"(Hospice) got her all set up so she could come home and be with family. And that was really uplifting for her and for the rest of us."

For Hospice nurses like Clark, experiencing these intimate moments with families leaves a lasting impact on her life as well.

"Honestly, it's such a privilege being able to do that. It's rewarding getting to know people at the end of their life because you learned so much about them, and they have such a different perspective. They really are our teachers and how we want to live our lives," Clark said.

The gift of comfort when families need it the most.

Ben Morris joined WDAY in June of 2021 as a news reporter. He grew up in southern New Hampshire, before he moved to Fargo. He majored in media communications and minored in marketing at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
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