Abraham House caregiver reflects on 20 years

Abraham House caregiver reflects on 20 years

Abraham House caregiver reflects on 20 years

By Greg Mason / gmason@uticaod.com

UTICA — Abraham House in Utica is recognizing 20 years of providing end-of-life care for the terminally ill in the community.

And among those to forge the nonprofit’s legacy is Bonnie McCarthy, an end-of-life nurse with Abraham House who once served as the house’s director.

McCarthy said she has worked about two decades for Abraham House, which hosted its 20th-anniversary gala this past Friday and is planning to open a new facility in Rome.

The Westmoreland woman has spent the last 30 years of her life in end-of-life care; with Abraham House, her responsibilities include direct care for their clients.

The O-D had a chance to talk with McCarthy about her career:

Why have you stayed on with Abraham House for so long?

Because it’s the most rewarding area of medicine that I have found.

What do you mean by that?

I mean that the satisfaction of being able to bring comfort to people at the end of their life. (About) 90 percent of our guests are cancer patients and there’s a great deal of pain involved. So unlike in a facility where we would have to get a doctor’s order, we can get just a real quick order from hospice and take that pain away almost immediately.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

The satisfaction of bringing comfort is one. The other is being involved with the families and helping them through the transition … from life to death, to helping them with their grief, helping them sometimes with the personal things they had to leave undone.

What are some challenges for you, personally?

When our guests come and they’re with us for a month or two or more, and you get to know them as a person and you get to know their family, their passing hits you like a friend or a family member.

What do you make of Abraham House’s mission?

It has accomplished taking the stress and the strain and the tension off of local families at a time where people have to work and there is no one to take care of someone that needs it at home. We’ve been the answer to so many different issues.

I do wish that we had more ability to care for more people in Utica. I’m excited about the Rome house, but if our house was bigger and we could take on that, then that would be great — because the need is great.

Bonnie McCarthy

  • Age: 70
  • Where from: Westmoreland
  • Position: End-of-life nurse and caregiver for Abraham House; formerly Abraham House’s director in the ’90s.
  • Abraham House, based in Utica, is a two-bed care facility for the terminally ill. Started in 1998, the nonprofit moved into its current location at 1203 Kemble St. in Utica in 2002.

Contact reporter Greg Mason at 315-792-5074 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Mason).
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