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Masonicare Partners Home Health & Hospice and the Connecticut State Police Bring Joy to a Young Pedi-Pal Patient and His Family

September 18, 2012

East Hartford, CT, September 18, 2012…….The Pedi-Pal program offered through Masonicare Partners Home Health & Hospice is a specialized palliative care program focused on the unique needs of children and adolescents dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis.  When twelve-year old Marcus Stephens of Hartford  was at the later stages of his cancer diagnosis, Partners was contacted, and Christine Rodriguez, RN, MSN, a pediatric nurse and Masonicare Partners Pedi-Pal program coordinator, arranged for caregivers to visit Marcus in his home to help him and his family through this very difficult time.

During those visits, caregivers learned that his dream was to become a policeman.  When Bill Hodge, a hospice spiritual care counselor with Partners and also a volunteer chaplain with the Connecticut State Police, learned about it, he had an idea.  He contacted the State Police, and a number of troopers volunteered to visit Marcus in his home.   They not only paid him a visit, they brought along their police dog, Schutz, and made Marcus an unofficial member of the Connecticut State Police.  Marcus was thrilled, and his mother, Henda Johnson, was very moved and most appreciative of the troopers’ caring and compassion.                                                                                                                          

According to Donna Dow-Conklin, RN, MS, Hospice Clinical Director, “The troopers were making plans to do even more, but unfortunately, Marcus passed away in May, just a few weeks after that visit.  When they heard he was gone, they were able to honor a last request made by Henda, Marcus’s mother.  They provided an honor guard to salute Marcus’ casket and escort him to his final resting place.”

To thank the State Police officers for their generosity and the joy they brought to Marcus as he neared the end of his life, Partners invited them to attend a ceremony at the office in East Hartford this month so they could be made honorary members of the Masonicare Partners Pedi-Pal team.  Marcus’ mother, Henda, was also in attendance, as well as members of the Pedi-Pal team. 

The following members of the State Police attended the ceremony and were given certificates of appreciation, an official statement identifying them as Honorary Pedi-Pal Team members, and were also presented with hospice volunteer pins:

            Kerry Taylor, TFC (Trooper First Class), who brought along her police dog, Schutz, Scott Prouty, TFC, and Sgt. John Netkovick. Other officers who were unable to attend the ceremony also received recognition:  Troopers First Class John Arigna, Melvin Gillus, Curt Booker and Chris Packer.

Masonicare Partners Home Health & Hospice, the Pedi-Pal Program, and especially Marcus’ mother, Henda, sincerely thank these caring and compassionate officers of the Connecticut State Police for their kindness and for taking the time to help those who need it most.

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