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Hospice care is for the living

Don't ask, don't smell

The Gibson-Krujalis Home

St. Clair Whitman House

My resolution about resolutions

Hospice Care is for the Living



Many people hear the word “hospice” and think it means that death is inevitable or that by going to a hospice center, their next stop will be the funeral home. The truth is, the opposite is often the case.


A report in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management described a study of nearly 5,000 terminally ill patients and revealed that patients in hospice care live an average of 29 days longer than patients who have similar conditions but are not receiving hospice care.  The study’s findings challenged the notion that hospice care hastens death.


According to Sue Colson, RN and former hospice nurse for seven years, her experience caring for terminally ill patients, repeatedly echoed the study’s results. She believes that families often wait too long to get a doctor’s referral to hospice and by that time, they are exhausted and the patient is sometimes suffering with unnecessary pain. But, “I saw people get off of hospice because their quality of life improved so much,” Colson said.


Once they came to hospice in Chiefland, patients received pain management care in a home-like environment. Families received emotional support and relief from the day-to-day care of their loved one and the patient often rebounded. In Colson’s experience, many patients did not need to come back to hospice again for months - a testament to the support that hospice was able to give to them and their families.


Chiefland’s Hospice Care Center has 12 patient rooms and they are all uniquely decorated. For example, some have a cowboy, light house or floral theme and whenever possible, a patient is placed in a room that makes them feel most at home. The lobby feels much like a living room but there is also a chapel for more private, pensive moments and a play room to keep youngsters occupied, if need be.


There are outdoor areas - a gazebo and garden - and patients can even have their beds rolled out to enjoy the natural beauty. Additionally, therapy pets visit regularly and if a patient has a well-behaved pet they are allowed to visit, too. Colson saw cats, dogs and birds, even pet fish, visit her patients.


Alternatively, hospice care is available at home, if staying at the care center is not a viable option. “Hospice physicians care for patients wherever they are most comfortable—at home, in a skilled nursing facility or in the hospital, surrounded by their loved ones and the staff who are caring for them,” according to hospice literature.


Barbara Hudson, of Cedar Key and Gainesville, is a former nurse and regular hospice volunteer fundraiser. She said, “It is the most amazing thing. The hospice concept helps people to live,” adding that programs to help children cope with losses or for families that have lost children, spouses or other loved ones are just some of the services that can help.


“We have speculated for a long while that terminally ill patients do better while in hospice care, but it hasn’t been definitively proven until now, with this study,” says Haven physician Dr. Michelle Boatwright. “Hospice patients sometimes do get better,” she added, “and occasionally they recover and go home.” Because patients do better in hospice care, it’s not unusual to hear families say, “We wish we had used hospice services earlier.”


For more information, go to www.hospice.org.






Patients come to hospice with life-limiting illnesses and hospice care serves any patient with a prognosis of six months or less. According to hospice’s literature, anyone can refer someone for hospice care, and at not-for-profit hospices, care is provided to all regardless of their ability to pay and whether or not someone has insurance.


The hospice Medicare benefit covers the cost of all medications, medical equipment, oxygen and supplies relevant to the diagnosis. In addition, hospice patients are not required to have a living will or a “do-not-resuscitate” order to be admitted for care.


Source: Haven Hospice of the Tri-Counties, Chiefland Care Center.






A family’s perspective on hospice care


Lloyd Collins and his family, of Cedar Key, have nothing but good things to say about hospice, after their mother, Eliza, was a hospice patient for many months. She died at the age of 91, however, for months leading up to that day, she was able to continue to live at home, being cared for primarily by her son, Kenny, who had a shop next to her house.


She eventually succumbed to a stroke and spent her final days at the Haven Hospice Care Center in Chiefland. Her other son, William, said about hospice care, “They did a great job. They made her feel comfortable and we were always welcome.”


Lloyd Collins says, “Momma really loved them and that Miss Alice was an angel,” adding “If it hadn’t been for them, we would have had to put her in a nursing home.” He continued, “It gave a relief to Kenny, who stayed there with her, and allowed him to get out of the house and go to the store or just out on the boat for an hour or so.”






Clark Reichert - New Hospice Chaplain


Clark Reichert is a pastoral volunteer for Haven Hospice. He visits patients at the Haven Hospice Care Center in Chiefland where he offers spiritual support and prayer to patients, on a weekly basis. In addition, he assists Chaplain Janice Kirk with Haven’s memorial services that are held twice yearly to support local communities and families with their losses.


Reichert has also visited patients in their homes in Cedar Key and even went shopping and fixed a screen door for one patient. He is the pastor of the Methodist Church in Cedar Key, a native Floridian and saltwater angler.


He is married and has two grown children. He received his Master of Divinity from Emory University in Atlanta. Before going into the ministry, Reichert was in the optical business for thirty years.






Advanced Directives

           Sometimes it’s good to be a “control freak”


The Terri Schiavo story is reminder of the importance of having written advanced directives for yourself and family members. In her case, her wishes were not documented on paper and it turned into a legal and medical battle that pitted family member against family member.


The battle began when she collapsed in 1990 and went into a persistent vegetative state. In 1998 her husband, Michael, filed a petition to have her feeding tube removed, however, her parents opposed the move. She died in 2005 - 14 days after her feeding tube was removed - again after more legal wrangling.


It did not need to be that way. Schiavo’s case brought home the reminder that you must be clear about your wishes before you are unable to speak for yourself. Everyone from the age of 18 to 108 needs an advanced directive and durable power of attorney for health care and should not wait to get one.


What is an advance directive and durable power of attorney for health care? An advanced directive, also known as a living will, is a legal document that gives clear directions to your family and medical professionals about what medical treatment you want and, more importantly, what medical treatment you don’t want - in the event that you become incapable of speaking for yourself. It also addresses matters such as the use of dialysis and breathing machines, resuscitation (or not) if breathing or heartbeat stops, tube feeding, organ or tissue donation.


A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy. Your proxy is someone you trust to make health decisions if you are unable to do so.


Why? Can’t my family speak for me? Maybe, but it’s better to not put that burden on them and, more often than not, there may not be agreement on what they think is best for you. An advanced directive takes that stress and burden off your family and allows them peace of mind.


Who needs one? Everyone over the age of 18.


When should you get an Advanced Directive? Long before you become ill or incapacitated. Do it today. You can download one from the Internet and should get it notarized, too.


“An advance directive is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones,” said Haven Hospice President Tim Bowen. “When you think you don’t need an advance directive is when you need it most.”


Haven Hospice offers a free, easy-to-use advance directive called “Five Wishes.” To request a copy, visit  www.havenhospice.org and click the “Five Wishes” button on the left, or call 800.727.1889 or you also can find out more at: www.putitinwriting.org or www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/advancedirectives.html


Don’t ask, don’t smell -

                 A visit to the Cedar Key Sewer Treatment Plant




Next time you flush your toilet, give a silent thank-you to the men who work at the Cedar Key Sewage Treatment plant and be glad it is them, and not you, who work there. Then, thank them again when you see them around town.


A tour of the plant on Tuesday by the proud manager, Jack Hotalling, revealed more than you would ever want to know, see or smell about the facility.


What appears to be an office on Third Street is actually a complex built in 1989 and designed to withstand flood surges from a Category 5 hurricane. Reinforced concrete tanks with walls over a foot thick, filtration systems and pipes from one inch to one foot in diameter snake high and low; and in the end, the water is almost clean enough to drink.  Instead, it is used for irrigation and will soon be used to flush toilets at the Cedar Key Water and Sewer District office and City Hall.


Since the leaking underground water and sewer pipes around town have been repaired in the past few month, the amount of infiltration by sea water has been stopped and has allowed the plant to close down half its treatment system. The volume of water entering the plant and needing treatment has been slashed - also saving energy and money.


The existing system uses a minimum of chemicals, relying instead on aerobic and “friendly bacteria” filtration systems, as well as chlorine during the last step. Soon the water will be going through an additional treatment called sand filtration.


The District received prices of around $500,000 to install the sand filtration system and retro-fit part of the plant to accommodate the modifications but they soon realized that the existing staff was capable of doing the work for about $75,000.


Tuesday, they worked on pumping a very liquid concrete slurry into the bottom of two existing concrete tanks. Once the concrete is cured, many cubic yards of gravel will be poured into the tanks and finally a thick layer of sand.  Water will flow into the top of the tank, be filtered through the sand and gravel, and then flow out the bottom pipes.


At that point, the water will be cleaned - with less than 1 or 2 ppm (parts per million), although the plant is permitted to discharge water as high as 10 ppm.


Currently, it is already cleaning water to about 3 or 4 ppm. This is good news for the environment because if there is ever a need to discharge effluent into the nearby waters, it will be cleaner than ever. Luckily, that is a rare occurrence and has not happened in over a year.



The Gibson-Krujalis Home - Then and Now



You may have walked or driven by a house on Fourth Street numerous times and barely noticed it was there - half hidden behind low lime rock walls that terrace the sloping front yard and overgrown cabbage palms.


Or, perhaps, you stopped to take a photo of the pair of Adirondack chairs, swaths of ferns and pile of bleached out shells on each side of the front steps. It is one of those houses that could go either way - as a photo-op or you might just pass right by and not notice 750 Fourth Street - the home of Luz Beckham Krujalis and her husband, Walter.


Luz’s great-aunt Mabel Gibson and her husband, Henry bought the house in 1921 - the same year Mabel planted the magnolia tree in the back yard. At some point, the detached summer kitchen was moved from its spot in the far corner of the back yard and attached to the house. Modern times called for modern amenities.


Rumor is that Senator David Levy Yulee built the home in 1886, for the foreman of the Faber pencil factory that was located on G Street. The rumor was documented by a title search that Luz and Walter had done after they bought the house from Mabel in the early 1990’s.


When Walter’s career allowed them to return to Cedar Key, they did some remodeling - updating the bathroom and kitchen and uncovering the original bead board. It had been covered with sheetrock in a sad attempt to “modernize” the house - probably in the 1960’s.


Luz found a piece of the original porch balusters (a fancy word for pickets or vertical elements on the porch railing) under the house and had new ones fabricated and installed on the front porch, which adds a layer of privacy when sitting there. She did indulge in some artistic license and designed brackets to go on each side of the porch posts, but in actuality, that might have been a detail found on the house originally.


The porch rail detail is one that is seen on several homes in town that were built by Yulee and around town during that time period. The lone original baluster hangs on the wall of the back porch, as a reminder of the transitions that the house has undertaken for the past 125 years.


The back yard has been another place where nothing has remained static. Mabel may have had the foresight to plant the magnolia, but Luz and Walter had the foresight to plant a couple more, knowing that one day, the original one will not be there.


What began as four little sprigs of ferns has exploded into thick borders of ferns that edge the different “outdoor rooms”. The napping area houses a tempting hammock; there is a dining area, as well as a seating area around an outdoor fire pit.


While digging around in the back yard, they have unearthed “tons of torpedo bottles, a giant belt buckle, overall clips and a couple porcelain doll heads and arms”. Apparently, great-aunt Mabel tossed a lot of junk into the back yard. Back in the day, there was no such thing as curbside garbage pick-up service.


If it rains, the ell-shaped back porch is a dry place to survey the scenery and it holds the gas grill, several comfortable chairs and rockers. An oak tree was recently planted and whiskey barrels house a healthy array of vegetables and herbs. A privacy fence is going up and Luz is experimenting with outdoor curtains made of painter’s drop cloths to keep a cozy intimate feel.


The plan is to one day have a couple of little metal clad out-buildings that will house an office for Walter, a place for the golf cart, maybe a potting shed or guest bedroom. Until then, there is an above average chance that the plan will change at least a half dozen more times.



St. Clair Whitman House



Tucked away off Hodges Avenue on Cedar Key is arguably the ugliest circa-1960s building on the island. Don’t let that fool you. Inside and around the property are a variety of things to do and see that will make you forget the rough architecture.


The State Museum houses Indian artifacts, dioramas of scenes around Cedar Key, a variety of impressive collections and historical information about the area. It also has a gift shop where you can buy T-shirts, posters and a wide variety of books on the area, including Florida flora and fauna.


After you tour the main building, a short walk across the brick path leads you to the St. Clair Whitman House. It is a barn-red cedar-shake house with a long gable roof that runs the length of the building, a wide front porch with a shed porch and gable over the front steps. Once inside, you realize the house is much larger than it seems from the outside. Two ells (wings) off the back ends of the house practically double the size of the main house and give it a U-shape.


The home was built in 1880 by Henry Hale and overlooked Goose Cove, where the Whitman Point condominiums now sit. Whitman bought it in the early 1920s and lived there until his death in 1959, at age 91. It was slated for demolition in 1991, offered for free by the family and was moved to the museum site in three parts that year,

restored in 2002 and opened to the public.


The house still has most of the original features including windows, beautiful wood floors and trim — and no bathroom. Luckily for the

visitors, it now has air conditioning to keep the humidity at bay. Of course, when it was built, Whitman and his family had to rely on breezes to cool the house and windows were placed on two to three sides of every room to capture the prevailing winds, but the windows also filled it with light and made it seem larger than it is.


Upon entering the front door, there is a bedroom on the right (with the Whitmans’ iron bed) and parlor on the left. Straight ahead you

pass under an arched opening into the dining room and into the kitchen beyond. The attached kitchen looks much like it did when the house was built. A beautiful enamel gas stove with a raised oven dates from the 1920s and there is a large sink with drain boards on each end and a table in the middle that belonged to Whitman.


Going back to the parlor, you pass through a pocket door into the jewel of the house — the room that houses St. Clair Whitman’s shell collection. In the other ell, off the “shell room,” is a large room that may have been another bedroom, but is currently used as a conference area and storage.


There is an informational brochure about his life and the home itself in the foyer. According to the brochure: St. Clair Whitman was born in the town of the same name, in Missouri, in 1868. He and his brother and parents lived in Iowa until their mother died in 1880. Their father left his older son in Iowa and took St. Clair to Florida, where they eventually arrived in Cedar Key. He helped create a fiber mill by designing much of the machinery and worked at the Standard Manufacturing Co., which processed

fiber and brushes. However, his true calling was collecting shells and other regional items. His careful cataloging gained him a feature story in a 1955 National Geographic Magazine issue about his home museum.


On the grounds of the museum, there is an old fishing boat, a giant salt kettle from the Civil War, a couple of cannons and a few other local items of interest, such as an old fire-fighting rig and the old chassis of some mysterious type of cart. There is also a nature trail that goes down to the water. It has a couple of benches to enjoy the view, but it is also a great place to launch a kayak or take your dog for a swim.


So, next time it is raining and the kids are driving you crazy or you have out-of-town guests, take them to Cedar Key’s State Museum and St. Clair Whitman House. You get a lot of entertainment for a $2 entry fee (although they do accept additional donations), and that’s the cheapest “staycation” you will ever take.



My resolution about resolutions



I’m really not one for the New Year resolutions, as you can probably tell by the date. Yes, it is January 13th. Which is why I don’t make resolutions like: I’m going to write a column for the January 6th issue of the Beacon on the merits of new year resolutions and/or procrastinating.


I have a long history of not following through but now I have used it to my advantage - to give me a reason to write this particular column. This year, I resolved use the same resolution as last year - to not make any resolutions. It has been working GREAT.


How many of you made New Year’s Resolutions that you haven’t kept? A lot - I know. That is why I have a better idea: New Month’s Resolutions.


Why didn’t someone think of this before?


The idea of only having to plan or commit to something for 30 days really does appeal to me. If things don’t work out quite as planned, I can regroup. It’s a renewable, get-out-of-jail-free card that I can use for 30 days and then, get a new one and try again.


Think about it - most of us can commit to something for 30 days, can’t we? For example: exercising. I have never stuck with that for more than a couple weeks straight - except about 15 years ago, when I was young, in peak physical shape, biked, walked or ran every day and ate and drank everything in sight.


Now, I only have to say that I will use the Total Gym and weight train 3 times a week or 12 times a month. No problem! No, wait, let’s change that to twice a week. February is a short month so, I’ll only have to commit to...rats, 8 times that month, too.


Then, I have to commit to doing aerobic exercise twice a week, right? Does shoveling manure and spreading hay count as an aerobic exercise? What about chasing my horse around when he gets loose? Nope, that won’t work. He follows me everywhere and never runs away.


But, I digress. Back to this commitment thing…I think the plan should be: Start small.


Don’t vow to become a full-blooded vegetarian (is that an oxymoron?) in 30 days. Start with Meatless Mondays or Sushi Sunday or maybe Eggless Easter.


Do you want to grow all your vegetables in your back yard? Good luck with that. After 10 years of trying to grow a decent tomato in Cedar Key, I’d suggest starting with half a whiskey barrel, lots of manure, radical chemical fertilizers, a couple tomatoes, some basil plants and progress (hopefully) from there.


Add a new half a barrel every couple years. Do NOT over do it.


Come to think of it, join a food co-op to be on the safe side.


You think recycling is too much hassle? Start with cans and glass this month and add paper next month. Don’t worry, if you don’t put the recycling bin out until Monday morning, your neighbors won’t have time to count all your wine bottles before the truck picks them up. Or, hide them under the baby formula bottles.


Composting? Great idea. But, you really don’t need an elaborate set-up. Just a round bin made out of some scrap wire you have sitting around from that chicken coop you never got around to building last year.


This is my advice: pace yourself. After all, you have to keep this up in 30-day increments – hopefully for a whole year. You don’t want to wear yourself out. If things don’t work out in January, you always have February. And, it only has 28 days.



(Ada Lang is a staff writer for the Cedar Key Beacon who likes to quote the anonymous person who said, “A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”)