By Deb Silverthorn
For three women in our community — Rachel Pearlman Bloom, Rebecca Conroy and Rachel Farber — who have each made careers steeped in caring, the connection they have through Yellow Rose Hospice is a gift to many.
“Our patients, for the most part, are at the end of their lives but making that time beautiful and comfortable is what matters to everyone on our team,” said Bloom, director of social services at Yellow Rose Hospice, who began her career at Golden Acres Jewish Home for the Aged (now The Legacy Senior Communities). “The calm for the patient, and the peace also for the family, is our priority.”
Bloom learned firsthand the physical transformation of emotional and spiritual release when she witnessed Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor, of blessed memory, offering prayers to a dying patient. It changed the focus of her career.
She had the chance to experience that for her own family, when she set up a Shabbat dinner for her father in his room at home. The family sang, including her father, who was deaf. He died the next day. “It was one of the most spiritual moments ever and my last memory of him alert,” she said. “That feeling is what I hope to bring to my patients and their loved ones.”
Helping her along that path is Rachel Farber, whom Bloom knew previously at Beth Torah’s preschool and at Congregation Anshai Torah. Over the years they came in and out of each other’s lives, and a Dallas Jewish Moms Facebook post reconnected the two.
“One of our dogs had passed away and Bella, a Lab who is so comforting and caring, needed ‘something.’ I had to find a way to use that love,” said Farber, who started making visits to Yellow Rose patients after connecting with Bloom. She’s now on staff at Yellow Rose. “For three years Bella, and now Zeke, a Coton de Tulear, have brought so many smiles and so much happiness.”
For many patients, Farber says, her dogs’ visits are the only visits in a week or month. Farber says the furry friend at the end of the leash is all that matters when she walks into a room.
One patient Farber and Bella visited, who hadn’t spoken a word in weeks, sat up and made direct eye contact with the dog. She hadn’t responded to any human but, to the dog, she was in full conversation. The power of pets, Farber said, “is so deep and moving.”
To complete the “three R’s” of connection through Yellow Rose Hospice, Bloom met Rebecca Conroy through her husband, Daniel. During the pandemic, Bloom began picking up “Daniel’s Delights,” to-go meals created by the Anshai Torah chef. Conroy suggested an introduction to his wife Rebecca, a nurse practitioner, new to palliative care. Perhaps the two could relate.
And relate they did. As some of Conroy’s patients needed to be moved to hospice, she referred Yellow Rose. The connection with Bloom led to education about hospice service by Yellow Rose, which extends beyond end-of-life needs.
Yellow Rose’s team provides, in addition to daily aide visits, nursing and social work support, music and massage therapists, aromatherapy, spiritual support and pet therapy through Farber.
For example, Katy Irwin, “Kat Van Dali,” has brought her artist’s brush to the outside windows for many patients, creating scenes of holiday and floral themes and more, brightening patients’ days. Bloom has yet to be stalled by any creative form of reaching her patients.
“Rachel (Bloom) and Yellow Rose offer so much. Every person I’ve met on the team comes to their job with such respect, such care for the patients,” said Conroy. “I want only the best care for my patients and trusting this team, when our services aren’t enough anymore, allows for patients and their families not to focus on imminent death, but to get through that time as peacefully as possible.”
Through Bloom, Conroy met Farber. The three women hit it off.
Conroy was at Yellow Rose Hospice one afternoon when Farber brought her furry friends to visit a patient. She saw his eyes light up and his whole being shift toward joy.
“I saw how beautiful this service is,” said Conroy. “Firsthand I witnessed the transformation of Bella and Zeke’s visit.”
Raquel “Kelee” Baum, a patient at Yellow Rose Hospice, said her exposure to “the Rachels,” as she calls Bloom and Farber, brighten her day: “My whole outlook on life is better on the days they come to visit and the dogs, they change everything about how I am feeling. Those dogs know when they’re coming to my ‘pet palace,’ that treats are waiting, and they jump out of the car.”
Baum, who has four scrapbooks of photos of herself with various visiting pets, says the ‘Rachels’ deserve only good in life. “They are a gift.”