By By Taylor Massey, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public AffairsMay 16, 2014
LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany -- A new room stands by at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center designed specifically for patients nearing the end of their life's journey. These hospice patients now have a comforting environment where they can spend their last days with loved ones.
The Thomas Meehan Suite, named in memory of retired Marine Col. Thomas "Tank" Meehan, opened with a May 6, 2014, ceremony attended by Maria Fox-Meehan, the widow of Colonel Meehan.
Meehan, or "Tank" to all who knew him, impacted numerous lives during his military and federal service career and was known for making the best of every situation he faced. As residents in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, the Vietnam War veteran and his wife were Red Cross volunteers who often visited staff and patients throughout the hospital.
The idea to develop a hospice suite came to fruition about two years ago when Mr. Meehan was diagnosed with cancer and Major (Dr.) Penelope Harris, a LRMC Oncologist, helped the couple with their unsuccessful search for hospice care on the local economy.
As a result, Ms. Meehan said her husband was required to fly on a medical evacuation flight to Washington D.C. where they faced numerous difficulties seeking care for his essential needs. Now, The Thomas Meehan Suite is able to provide patients and families with those needs in a calm environment as they near the end, and relieve the stress of trying to plan a way back to the States during such a difficult time.
The Fisher House Foundation provided financial funding to turn the idea of the hospice suite into a reality. Vivian Wilson, manager of the Landstuhl Fisher Houses, who knew the Meehans and of their difficulties, said she felt the need to "provide stepping-stones to establish a positive outcome from the negative situation."
Ensuring the room came to fruition, Wilson said, involved key support from Ms. Meehan, former LRMC Commander Brig. Gen. Barbara Holcomb, current LRMC Commander Col. Judith Lee, and Deputy Commander for Nursing Col. Kathy Prue-Owens.
Ms. Meehan said she believes the hospice suite will have an extremely positive impact on its patients and their families. The hospice suite enhances the feeling of being home in an actual bedroom. It doesn't have medical equipment surrounding the bed, but patients are still able to have their doctors and medical team close and available when needed.
Ms. Meehan said this is an important factor toward the end due to the emotional and physical drain patients and their loved ones often experience.