It is never a comfortable experience to receive bathing help from a stranger, and it was no different when Rosemarie Switalski Walker first met her nurse aide, Sage Tueller. Rosemarie had worked for many years in the cosmetic industries and was always well put together. She was known for her perfect skin, appearance, and disposition. Therefore, it was only understandable when she dismissed Sage’s offer to help. “I don’t need a nurse or help taking a bath. I can do it myself.” Hearing this, Sage gently replied, “Don’t think of me as a bathing aide. Look at it as a nice spa day.” And this set the tone for their new friendship. Sage built their relationship by helping Rosemarie with her hair, clothes, and make-up during their first few routine visits. Over time, Sage was able to gradually gain Rosemarie’s trust so that when the disease progressed and Rosemarie was no longer able to do these activities on her own, she was able to fully trust Sage to take care of her.
Rosemarie’s son, Chad Walker, shared about the tremendous amount of help he and his mom were able to receive through Hawai'i Care Choices. “What I came to realize with hospice was that there were no more trips to the emergency rooms and there were no more trips to the doctors. Whenever there was an issue or a problem, I would open up the binder and find a phone number to call. Then I would get instructions on how to resolve the issue or have someone come to the house.” Before, it took him an hour to get his mother ready, an hour to drive down to the hospital and help her into the wheelchair, and another hour or more to complete the doctor visit. The entire process was extremely stressful for both him and his mother. There were times when he wanted to just go onto his bed, pull up his covers, and cry in distress because of the overwhelming stress and fatigue he felt as the primary caregiver. Therefore, it was a night and day difference to receive care at the convenience of his home whenever he was in need of help. Chad’s wife and the Medical Director for Acute Care and the East Hawai'i Health Clinics, Dr. Jennifer Walker, said, “It (hospice care) took away so much anxiety for us. I cannot say enough what it did for our family.”
On the morning of August 15, 2023, Rosemarie Switalski Walker passed in her sleep. She will be sadly missed by all who remember her for her beautiful and warm smile.