The Sanford Hospice Cottages in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will always hold a special place in Sonja Grave’s heart.
“We were just very blessed from the minute we walked in here,” Grave said regarding the hospice location.
“When we brought my mom from a nursing home to the cottage, where it’s just four residents to staff, I broke down. To be honest with you, I just started bawling. When I turned the corner into her room, it just felt like home. This is what my mom deserved.”
Spacious and comfortable, the cottages are here to provide a place where patients, like Grave’s mom Han Schjodt, can receive quality end-of-life care 24 hours a day.
‘Nothing but amazing’
Schjodt moved to South Dakota from South Korea in 1974 with four daughters and her husband, a member of the Air Force.
In the late ‘80s, Schjodt proudly opened Han’s Oriental Food Market and ran it until 2001.
“My mom in kind of different stages of her life,” Grave said pointing to old pictures. “As a young, beautiful, beautiful woman.”
When Schjodt came to hospice in the summer of 2021, the 83-year-old was dealing with dementia and couldn’t walk anymore.
“Very frail in that sense too,” Grave said.
“From beginning to the end, we had nothing but amazing.”
In addition to individualized care, the cottages feature full kitchens, living rooms and guest rooms if family members need to stay the night, said Krista Menzel, the supervisor for Sanford Home Hospice and Hospice Cottages.
“They are amazing. It’s a great place for patients that need help but the families can’t provide that care,” Menzel said. “But they still want to be with them here.”
“We have the two cottages. There are four patient rooms in each cottage. They’re staffed with one LPN or medication aide.”
‘What we do really matters’
Grave remembers connecting with the staff instantly.
“They were so wonderful. Just kind of fell in love with the place and the people. I kind of jokingly said, ‘Hey, you guys need to give me something to do. My mom’s room is about as clean as it’s going to get,’” Grave said.
She’d spend the next two years on the payroll as a cottage housekeeper.
Sanford’s hospice mission inspires families and employees alike, according to Menzel.
“I think they just see that what we do really matters,” she said. “And how we’ve helped their family and they want to be able to help people too.”
Being there for others as one journey comes to a peaceful end.
“She knew where she was at and I think she just knew that she was being very well taken care of,” Grave said about her mom. “I climbed in bed with her. Held her hand whenever I wanted to.”
“That meant so much that we were able to physically be there in the room with her whenever we wanted.”
Grave added, “I commend everyone who has helped me along the way and my family, and they still reach out.”
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