McArdle braves blizzard to help area family in need
Blizzard-like conditions caused many people around the area to remain shuttered in two weekends ago.
However, the massive snowfall and severe winds didn’t prevent Red Oak’s Tiffany McArdle from helping a family in need of hospice care.
A lifelong resident of Red Oak, McArdle said she was drawn to a career in hospice care many years ago.
“I was a certified nursing assistant at a senior living facility in Red Oak for quite a while before I transitioned to hospice. I have been with St. Croix Hospice for almost seven years. I went back to college, and I did complete my registered nursing degree, however, I am still working under my licensed practical nurse license right now,” McArdle said. “When I learned more about hospice and what it was actually about, I kind of knew that was the area I was being pulled towards.”
McArdle added when she had patients who were experiencing end of life in the nursing home, her heart was drawn a little more towards those patients, and she feels she’s found her calling.
It was during the blizzard-like conditions on Sunday, Jan. 11 that she was called to assist with a patient.
“I was on call that weekend, and our patients call into a triage system. They speak to nurses in other locations over the phone to let them know what their needs are, and then triage reaches out to the on-call nurse in that area, which was me. The call came in at around 8 in the morning on that Sunday, and the wife had called in saying her husband had a change of condition,” commented McArdle.
Once the call came in, McArdle said she had absolutely no hesitation in responding, and knew she had to get to the home no matter what.
“I knew they were alone, and I know what the final days for hospice patients can look like. For the patient’s family and friends that aren’t used to those situations, it’s very overwhelming and a very scary time sometimes for them. I knew I had to get out there and help with the situation, get him comfortable, and prepare for whatever was next,” stated McArdle.
McArdle said she knew they were located in the country, and knew that there may be difficulties getting there, but she could tell that assistance was needed.
“She was very overwhelmed with everything going on. You could definitely tell that in her voice. I started heading her direction. I was able to get through one of the old county highways and once I turned on her gravel road, I could see some pretty big drifts,” explained McArdle.
McArdle exited her car to walk up the hill and see if it was the only drift, but quickly discovered that wasn’t the case.
“The drifts went all the way up to her house. I could see her house from the hill, it was almost a quarter mile from where I was at.”
It was then, McArdle said, that she made a phone call herself for assistance in getting where she needed to go.
“I called a local friend to see if he was nearby and see if he could get me through the snow to the house. He was there within about 15 minutes. He was able to get me to the house, but the driveway was very deep in drifts, so I walked through the yard. The snow was very deep, it was almost to my knees, but I did make it to the door,” advised McArdle. “It took me almost an hour from start to finish to make it to her door.”
McArdle said she felt a sense of relief when she was able to make her way to the resident’s door.
“I was determined to get there and very happy. I was also pleased with how everything fell together. I will never forget this moment, and I hope the family won’t either. The family is grieving, but I think at the same time there’s always a bright side to every situation,” McArdle advised.
McArdle said the reaction of the homeowner when she knocked made all the effort worthwhile.
“I knocked on the door, and she answered,I could tell she was very grateful that someone was able to make it to her. She was very emotional, there was a lot going on. I walked in the house and gave her a big hug,” McArdle stated.
From there, McArdle said her top priority was taking care of the woman’s spouse.
“I went back to her husband in the back room and got him comfortable with some medication and repositioning. Once we got him comfortable, we realized we should get someone out here to do the country road because not only did the children need to be with their family at the time, the funeral home would also need to find a way to him.”
McArdle said she wasn’t sure who to contact about the road, but her first call, to the Page County Sheriff’s Office, proved to be the right one.
“They were my first guess, and the first deputy I spoke to said he would work on that. At first, he told me they didn’t think they could do the patient’s driveway, which was understandable. Then about an hour later, that plow was out on their gravel road clearing. Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer also came out, and he had them clear her driveway as well. It was a very heartwarming moment to see everyone pull together and see what everyone did for this family,” McArdle said. “It’s definitely a demonstration of how people in small communities band together to help out. I love our small town and our surrounding communities, and this goes to show what these small towns can do together.”
McArdle urged families to consider hospice and take the necessary steps to put it in place.
“Hospice is such an important part of life when we get to these final days. I hope people can look into hospice sooner rather than later, and realize the comfort that hospice can actually bring to families and patients during this difficult time,” commented McArdle.
To learn more about hospice care, visit stcroixhospice.com.