Karen Feroli was executive director of Carroll Hospice from 1997 to 2010, and was known as committed leader with a love for the community.
“She had a ‘hospice heart’ in everything that she did and that she exuded a love for the patients, the staff and the community that will never be forgotten,” Carroll Hospice spokeswoman Simone Lindsay wrote in an email. “She would often say it is ‘their house’ when referring to the families Carroll Hospice served.”
Feroli passed away in 2010, but is now being honored posthumously as one of six Hospice Heroes for 2019, people and organizations recognized for their outstanding commitment to the hospice and its mission to care for and comfort people in their last six months of life.
The Times recently caught up with two of the late Feroli’s colleagues, Carroll Hospice Clinical Manager Paula Gabriel and Carroll Hospice Nurse Samantha Thilker, to learn more about Feroli ahead of the April 29 Taste of Carroll fundraiser, a food and drink event that supports Carroll Hospice.
Q: You both knew and worked with Karen, who has been named a posthumous Hospice Hero. How do you think she would have felt about that recognition, and how have you received it?
Thilker: Karen was not one to stand out in the limelight. Her focus was on the patient and families. She would have been honored and humbled.
Gabriel: She would have very graciously accepted. I am pleased that we are honoring an individual that had a true passion for the work that was being done to care for those in our community.
Q: What work did you do together with Karen?
Gabriel: I was a clinical director working under Karen.
Thilker: Karen was the executive director of Carroll Home Care and Carroll Hospice when I started working here. She made certain to be seen on the unit daily, sometimes several times a day. Before leaving every day to go home, she would always stop by and make sure everything was going well and if we needed anything. She was always asking if there was anything she could do to help us with patient and family care.
Q: Are their some examples from your time together, of the ways Karen supported Carroll Hospice?
Gabriel: Karen was involved with the everyday work of Carroll Hospice. She would take the time to round in the Dove House, speaking with families and making them feel at ease.
Thilker: My most prominent memory of Karen was when we first opened. We had just received a patient and both the tech and I were in the room getting the patient situated. When another patient arrived, Karen directed the EMTs to a room I specified and then returned to the room I was in to help. She let me go ahead to attend to the new patient while she and the tech cared for the one already there. When I had a slightly puzzled look on my face, Karen looked at me and said, ‘I am a nurse first and foremost.’
Q: What do you think were the more challenging aspects of Karen’s work, for her? The most rewarding?
Thilker: Karen loved her work. She was hospice. Therefore, I think the most challenging aspect of her work was not being fully involved in patients’ bedside care as our executive director.
She also had a challenge with balancing her own health care issues with her love for hospice and the patient/family unit. The needs of the patient/family unit and hospice tended to come first.
Gabriel: I would say one of the challenging aspects of Karen’s work was that she wanted to help everyone. If she saw a homeless person on the street she would want to bring them to Dove House for care — hospice appropriate or not. Her success I would say was the growth of Carroll Hospice with the opening of Dove House, Carroll Hospice’s inpatient facility.
Q: Why should people consider coming out to A Taste of Carroll on April 29?
Gabriel: Taste of Carroll is a fabulous event. Not only are you supporting a great cause, you get to enjoy eats and drinks from many of the great establishments in our community. The monies raised from this event help cover many programs that are not reimbursed via Medicare and/or private insurance. It allows us to care for those with no payment source. We turn no one away.
Thilker: Hospice is an ever-growing field of the life continuum. Death is inevitable, everyone deserves a beautiful dying experience, patients and families alike.
Carroll Hospice is a not for profit entity and is reliant on public support. Taste of Carroll is our largest fundraising effort that enables us to provide the very much deserved dignified dying experience.
A patient once told me ‘I am not afraid to die, I am afraid of not living.’ Carroll Hospice helps to provide the patient/family unit the means to have the best quality of life in the time they have remaining.