Compassion is woven into the fabric of Mary Gravina’s life. For 26 years, the vice president of counseling and pediatric services at the Hospice Care Network has touched scores of families by helping patients during their final journey.
“It’s always new,” said Ms. Gravina. “Every case is different. Every case, we have to fit through every size doorway, and try to be sensitive to every culture....It never gets stale.”
Moved by a pregnant woman who struggled with how to tell her children that their unborn sibling would die, Ms. Gravina established the Perinatal Hospice Program for families of stillborn or very sick babies.
The service fulfills a previously unmet need by tailoring a birth plan according to family wishes, counseling parents and siblings, providing comfort care for the baby, assisting with final arrangements and providing ways to celebrate the baby, such as a photobook of memories.
The work is tough and rewarding. “It can be very difficult to put your own needs aside, your own beliefs aside and realize it’s not about us. It’s about them,” she said