My brother, Father Gerhard, gets a call. He asks me, "Would you like to come with me, I have been called. I am going to see a dying person." I don't hesitate and come along silently. I don't know what is coming, I feel trepidation for my heart. We enter one of the four dying rooms of Blessed Gérard's Hospice. Next to the bed of the emaciated young man sits a "care giver" (a volunteer) holding his hand. My brother gently strokes his head and gives him the anointing of the sick and he continues to pray. I feel peace in the room, incredible peace. Inside I have become very calm. By now the prayers have ended. We are just there and silent. The dying man hardly moves, sometimes an eye reflex, sometimes pauses in breathing. I hear the ticking of the clock hanging on the wall. The ticking gets louder inside me. Many things run through my mind. What all has this person had behind him, how did he live? The transience, being torn from life, the death of my parents, the birth of my children. -And I look at the hands resting in each other. Above the bed is a sign with the patient's name. His first name is Christopher. Therapy: "Loving Care". I don't know how long we have been in the room. My brother nods at me and asks me to leave. The nurse smiles at us and turns her gaze back to the dying man. Outside, Gerhard says quietly to me. "It's still going on." On the way to his office he explains to me how a person passes from life. "You know," he says, "we are a hospice here. People die a dignified death here and they are not alone. Often the terminally ill lie unattended in their huts in their own faeces and die a cruel death. When the patients come here, they are first washed, if possible bathed. They may lie in a clean bed for the first time in their lives. They get food, medical care and loving care. I always say it's a culture shock of love for the sick." And now that I'm experiencing all this first hand, I feel it and understand what he's talking about.
All the sick and dying rooms in Blessed Gérard's Hospice bear the names of saints and beatified persons of the Order of Malta, which was founded by Blessed Gerhard in ? in Jerusalem. The work is depicted in the painting at the end of the hospice's corridor. My brother wanted the name of the founder of the Order of Malta as his religious name when he entered the Order of the Missionary Benedictines in St. Ottilien on 1 September 1982, with the present Abbot Primate of the Benedictines, Notker Wolf.
The human being remains the focus of professional help
"You are never reprimanded for spending time with a patient. And if the sick person needs you for an hour or more to talk or just to hold their hand." Every nurse learns this during the job interview. This heaven of care is made possible by a large number of volunteers. The ward, professionally run by a fulltime nurse, consists of three? large rooms, each with 12? beds. beds in each. Each bed can be separated with a tight curtain, which is a matter of course whenever the doctor is examining the patient or providing individual care. The room is bright and friendly and remarkably well ventilated. From each sickroom, the beds can also be pushed out onto the large, specially designed terrace, so that patients suffering from tuberculosis in particular can soak up the sun and fresh air. This contributes greatly to the recovery of the patients. There, those who are not bedridden train their muscles in guided therapeutic group gymnastics and they are happy and laugh while doing so, although it is strenuous for them. A mother-child room equipped with four beds is currently occupied by four young men, as there is currently no mother with a child in the hospice.
The atmosphere in the hospital rooms is friendly and each patient is cared for individually.
If a sick person has more than three visitors, the patient is pushed by wheelchair or by hospital bed, as the case may be, into the large visitors' room, which also serves as a lounge for the sick.
In the background, many industrious hands work together. Be it in the kitchen, in the laundry or in the bathroom and faeces room.