Dale A. Young, Director of Congregational Health
Baptist Health South Florida
Mario was referred to our Care Teams Ministry by the Oncology Unit at West Kendall Baptist Hospital. He suffered with pain from end-stage bone cancer and had been sent home to die. He lived alone in an efficiency apartment. We found a partnering faith-based Care Team in his zip code and made the referral. When the Care Team visitors showed up, they learned that Mario was not able to walk, not able to stand up long enough to cook, and not able to do house cleaning or go shopping. Since his divorce he had been estranged from family, but when the Care Team visitor asked about family, he teared up and said, “I don’t want to die alone.”
The Care Team began showing up regularly with meals. They helped clean the apartment, and they provided a “ministry of presence.” They learned that he had not informed his family that he was dying of cancer. They encouraged him to contact his family. One day they arrived with food and found Mario’s son in the kitchen cooking a meal. The son lived in the Miami area, had a business and his own family, and when he learned of his father’s condition, began to show up more often. Soon, Mario’s ex-wife and a daughter (now living in Ecuador) were informed. As Mario’s health deteriorated, the Care Team provided more spiritual support. They read the Bible with him and prayed. He was so grateful that one Sunday, he insisted on going to church in his wheelchair to express his gratitude for the support. He said, “I’m starting to believe in God’s love again.” Before he died, he was reconciled to his family. His ex-wife and daughter came up from Ecuador to be with him during his final days.
The Care Team continued to provide support before, during and after his death. They organized a memorial service for the family. This is a true illustration of the kind of support provided by the Care Teams organized by Congregational Health at Baptist Health South Florida. Currently 32 partnering churches have active Care Teams that offer practical and spiritual support to recently discharged patients and to people living at home with health challenges.