This post was written by Meagan Herlihy ’17
Although an inevitable part of life, conversations involving death are often avoided. Society pushes aside its dying populations because the people within them cannot confront their own mortality; instead, it’s easier to ignore it. This affects the discourse around terminally ill patients of all ages. Abraham House, along with the medical support of local Hospice and Palliative Care, has been transforming the discussion on end-of-life-care. Located in Utica, Abraham House is a non-profit organization that specializes in providing 24-hour care, support and comfort, free of charge, to guests who have embraced the final moments of life. With my background in emergency medicine, interests in the medical field, and the comfort and commiseration I have around the dying, Abraham House offered the perfect fit.
Even though my main project leaves me bound to a computer, my experience at Abraham House has been all encompassing. I’ve assisted caregivers and volunteers in their duties, interacted with guests and their families during tough times, and reached out to the community to relay the Abraham House mission and collect donations. I’ve even had the pleasure of working alongside board members and the executive director, Gina Ciaccia, to help plan Abraham House’s largest fundraisers: the annual Gala and Meatball Madness. Since the funds to run our organization strictly come from donations and fundraising, every bit of publicity, community outreach, and awareness helps provide a comfortable stay to terminally ill guests.
Abraham House has been exploring the idea of expanding the size of their organization to accommodate more guests. Currently, there is one location with only 2 beds. The executive director proposed adding 2 more beds to the Utica location as well as opening a separate location in Herkimer County. Currently, Abraham House is the only comfort home in Onieda, Herkimer, and Madison counties that provides end-of-life services for free. In order to assess the viability of expanding, past records need to be accumulated and analyzed. This is where my main project comes in. Since 1998, only paper records have been kept and the organization is unaware of the number and demographics of the guests it has served. In the length of my time here, I have been able to retrieve records dating back to 2008. Fortunately, 8.5 years of data provided a stable foundation for an accurate predication model that demonstrates the growth of Abraham House and the need to expand. I look forward to seeing how my research and data analysis aids in the physical expansion of an organization that provides wonderful care to deserving individuals.