Inspired by its commitment to holistic care, Danbury Hospital has opened the Goldstone Caregiver Center - the only Center of its kind in Connecticut - to support individuals caring for seriously ill loved ones.
"The Goldstone Caregiver Center is another example of how Danbury Hospital takes a progressive approach to family-centered care," said Damanjeet Chaubey, MD, section Chief of Hospital Medicine and the Medical Director of Danbury Hospital's Palliative Care Program. "The Center provides an ideal healing environment where families can decompress, receive emotional support from the health care team, and come to terms with the medical reality of what is happening to their loved ones," she added.
The Goldstone Caregiver Center is made possible by a $1 million gift from Liz and Steven Goldstone of Ridgefield, Conn. A nutritionist and former critical care nurse, Liz and her husband are longtime Danbury Hospital donors dedicated to initiatives that promote patient-centered care.
A Welcome Sanctuary
Located in the main lobby of Danbury Hospital's new Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion, the Goldstone Caregiver Center offers visitors a quiet space for respite and privacy. Caregivers can take a break from the bedside to reflect and rest at the Center, yet still be close to their loved ones. They also can meet with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, spiritual leader, or other members of the health care team to find welcome guidance and relief.
Amenities of the Center include a kitchenette stocked with healthy snacks and beverages and a computer workstation for easy access to emails and online resources. Center visitors can also receive information about community and caregiver resources.
The Center's calm ambiance contrasts sharply with the bells and alarms on patient care floors, where speaking privately and calmly about emotionally charged topics like palliative care and end-of-life issues can be challenging, noted Dr. Chaubey.
Volunteer "Caregiver Coaches" also play an important role in assisting family members who visit the Center. These compassionate volunteers are trained to support family members both on patient units and in the Center.
"Caregiving is a rewarding but very challenging experience. Caregivers very often don't take care of themselves," said Center Director Lynn Crager, RN, MSN, a chaplain who also serves as Director of Danbury Hospital's Department of Spiritual Care. "Caregivers give up their lives to care for someone else, whether it's a spouse, child, sibling, elderly parent or another person who is important in their life. It can be very isolating to be a caregiver."
Miranda Dold, LCSW, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Manager of the Goldstone Caregiver Center, said the Center aims to help caregivers focus on themselves by providing them with space and time to attend to their own needs.
"Oftentimes, caregivers are solely focused on the needs of the person they're caring for," said Dold. "Every individual defines support differently. For some, it's enjoying a cup of coffee in a quiet room to gather his or her thoughts. For others, it's speaking with a licensed mental health professional about the myriad of emotions they're experiencing and hiding from family members in an effort to 'be strong.' We tell caregivers that by caring for themselves, they'll be better able to care for their loved ones."
The Center supports caregivers beyond the Hospital experience by connecting them with community resources to help ease the transition back home. "Knowing about available resources can boost confidence in the caregiving role, which allows caregivers to be better prepared to handle various situations that may arise when they're on their own," said Crager. "We don't stop caring for caregivers after they leave the Hospital - they can call anytime if they need additional assistance."
Helping Hospital Caregivers
In addition to assisting family members, the Goldstone Caregiver Center also supports Danbury Hospital caregivers - doctors, nurses and other health care providers - who experience the daily stress associated with caring for patients, explained Moreen Donahue, DNP, RN, Western Connecticut Health Network Senior Vice President, System Chief Nursing Officer and the Beatrice Hofstadter White Endowed Chair for Nursing Education and Research.
"Having the Center dedicated to caregivers allows us to fulfill our mission of improving the health of every person we serve by delivering efficient, innovative and compassionate care," Donahue said. "We need to think not just about patients, but also about all of those who take care of them - family, community members and Hospital staff. The Goldstone Caregiver Center is an invaluable resource."
About the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation
The Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation mobilizes philanthropic support to benefit and advance the programs and services of WCHN hospitals and affiliated organizations. In partnership with a generous and involved community, the WCHN Foundation works to ensure responsive, compassionate, and cutting-edge care for generations to come. For more information, contact the Foundation at 203-739-7227.
Western Connecticut Health Network
Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. With this recent affiliation, the organization is now anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes numerous medical practices and sub-specialties across the region, home health care services, a nationally renowned biomedical research institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation and other affiliates. For more information, visit TheNewWCHN.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital; Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital and/or Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.