Pathways guides people through end-of-life journeys

Pathways Nurse Checks Heart of Hospice Patient

Pathways nurse, Monica Arnold, checks the heart of Marion Vasquez, in her home in Menlo Park, California, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. Vasquez is an 88-year-old woman with heart disease who is a Pathways hospice patient. Pathways home health and hospice organization helps people take care of their loved ones who are dying or debilitated. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

The Mercury News honored Pathways Home Health and Hospice by inclusion in the newspaper’s 2017 Wish Book edition, describing and honoring the work that Pathways does to help families through their end-of-life journeys.

For the last decade, as Virginia Ortiz battled colon cancer, her husband, Raymond, did whatever he could do to help.

He drove her to dozens of doctors’ appointments, chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments.

And over the years, the couple grew hopeful as the therapies extended her life. But the cancer kept coming back. Then last summer, as the Ortizes confronted the inevitable, the 67-year-old Virginia told her family she wanted to die in the comfort of her own home.

A hospital palliative care nurse suggested Sunnyvale-based Pathways Home Health and Hospice to help them through their journey.

“Without their support, I would have been lost in terms of medication and other things,’’ recalled Raymond Ortiz, a retired Santa Clara County Probation Department supervisor who remained at his wife’s side until she died on Sept. 20.

Ortiz, 68, has nothing but praise for Pathways’ approach.

“You are allowed to care for your loved one the way you want to, with their support,’’ he said. “They did not dictate anything. They simply supported me in what I was doing. That is what I appreciated.’’

Between weekly, then twice-weekly visits to their home from a “wonderful’’ Pathways nurse, whenever he needed advice or guidance from the nonprofit’s medical staff — day or night — someone always answered his calls, Ortiz said.

“If I wasn’t doing something right, I would ask them and I always got a response,’’ he said. “For that, I am greatly thankful.’’