Browse Tag: hospice

Dylan Vanormer

Family Shares Appreciation for Phelps Regional Homecare’s Hospice Services

Rolla teenager Dylan Vanormer enjoyed art. He made pencil drawings and created pieces using oil paints and spray paint.

However, when he lost mobility due to a brain tumor that eventually spread to his spine, he did not want to give up his passion. So, he got innovative.

“Dylan was in a wheelchair, and he would roll over tubes of acrylic paint to make designs,” said his mother, Michelle Opalio.

In 2007, about a month after Dylan’s 7th birthday, he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of cancerous brain tumor that starts in the back of the head, near the base of the skull. He was treated at St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

However, the cancer came back in 2012 and spread to his spinal cord. He underwent more treatments and surgery, but he had another recurrence in 2014. When it became clear that Dylan’s tumor was inoperable, Opalio began considering hospice care for her son.

Opalio wanted a hospice program for Dylan that was close to home in Rolla. Opalio, who previously worked for a nursing home, had previous experience with two hospice providers in the area, including Phelps Regional Homecare, a division of Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC).

“It was the St. Jude’s care team that actually chose the hospice program through Phelps Regional Homecare,” Opalio said.

Dylan was admitted into hospice care in August 2016, and Monica Link, RN, with Phelps Regional Homecare, cared for him.

“Monica initially saw Dylan on a weekly basis. She would work around his schedule and sometimes come on a different day of the week, if needed,” Opalio said.

“She worked with St. Jude’s throughout his care,” Opalio said. “Anytime there was a hiccup with pain management or whatever, she would check with St. Jude’s.”

Opalio and her significant other, Max Tohline, said they felt like Link became part of the family and noted that she went above and beyond for Dylan. Link gave him balloons on one of his birthdays and often brought him energy drinks when visiting him.

“Dylan wanted to go to prom, and Monica was willing to go with him,” Opalio said. While the two ended up not attending prom, Link brought Dylan a boutonniere and dressed up for pictures with him.

“Their bond was very special,” Tohline said of Dylan and Link. “There were no lengths that she wouldn’t go to, at least that we could tell.”

A celebration of life was held for Dylan while he was still living so he could be a part of it. “It was called a ‘game-over party,’” Opalio said, and Link stayed with Dylan for most of the event.

In January 2018, his care team at St. Jude’s discontinued his therapies and expected him to live for only another two months. Dylan passed away in June 2018 at the age of 18.

In addition to Link, Opalio and Tohline said other care members with Phelps Regional Homecare, including social worker Anna Tucker and chaplain Rod Farthing, visited Dylan while in hospice care.

Phelps Regional Homecare staff also helped Opalio with some of her bills and followed up with her and her family after Dylan’s passing.

The goal of Phelps Regional Homecare’s hospice program is to maintain the individual’s highest quality of life and dignity to the greatest extent possible. Hospice responds to people’s needs for comfort, empowerment, self-directed care and supports the patient’s loved ones both during the illness and after death.

Phelps Regional Homecare team members not only provide medical and nursing care but also offer emotional, spiritual and bereavement support for individuals and their families.

In addition to hospice, Phelps Regional Homecare offers a variety of home health and in-home services to the Phelps County community and surrounding areas.

For more information about Phelps Regional Homecare, call (573) 364-2425 or visit

Check Presentation

Volunteers Recognized at 2018 Auxiliary Appreciation Luncheon

Volunteers with the Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC) Auxiliary & Volunteer Services Department (Auxiliary) were honored during an appreciation luncheon Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at the Rolla Lions Club Den. This year’s theme was “Volunteers…PCRMC’s Special Ingredient for Success!” The annual event recognizes volunteers for their years of service and volunteer hours with the Auxiliary.

Volunteers who have served 20 years or more with the Auxiliary received certificates and flowers. There are currently 11 volunteers who have at least 20 years of service with the PCRMC Auxiliary. They are listed as follows:

  • Audrey Huddleson, with 36 years;
  • Velma Overby and Linda Marsh, each with 25 years;
  • Jean Joiner and Jean Platt, each with 23 years;
  • Illa Bell, Judy Grady, Pat Lizotte, Leona Rosenow and Jean Sidener, all with 21 years; and
  • Linda Dean, with 20 years

The PCRMC Auxiliary volunteers provided a total of 20,224 service hours in 2017. That includes hours from both adult and teen programs.

In addition to the Auxiliary volunteers, hospice volunteers, who provided 669 service hours last year, were acknowledged. Also in 2017, chaplains provided 58 hours of volunteer service and visited 7,869 patients.

During the event, accomplishments of the Auxiliary volunteers as well as projects they completed in the past year were recognized.

One major contribution announced at the luncheon was the donation of $220,000 to PCRMC for the purchase of a new ambulance. PCRMC CEO Ed Clayton led a toast to celebrate the achievement, thanking the Auxiliary for being generous with their financial resources over the years.

“This ambulance is much-needed for our fleet,” Clayton noted.

He added that hospital administration and staff appreciate all that volunteers do on a daily basis. “Our patients and visitors see your smiling and caring faces when they walk in, and our organization would not be able to do what it does without the Auxiliary,” Clayton said.

Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Keri Brookshire-Heavin also expressed her appreciation for the volunteers. “The significance this donation will make to our facility and our patients is incredible,” she said.

Girls Gone Catering prepared the lunches, desserts and beverages for the event. Lindy Hardwick, one of PCRMC’s chaplains, led the invocation, and the Wild Rose Band provided entertainment. In addition, there were door prizes given away to the volunteers.

Tina Pridgeon, PCRMC Auxiliary director, along with Crystal Lorah, Auxiliary specialist, hosted the luncheon.


4th Annual Hospice Butterfly Release Celebration Planned for May 19

Phelps Regional Homecare, a division of Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC), will host its 4th Annual Hospice Butterfly Release Celebration on Saturday, May 19, 2018, from 2:00-4:00 PM at Huffman’s Flowers of the Field, located at 18148 County Road 1000 in St. James, MO.

“This event offers the chance to remember our cherished family and friends,” says Tara Peters, marketing coordinator for Phelps Regional Homecare. Releasing butterflies is a unique way to pay tribute to loved ones because butterflies symbolize hope, new life and transformation.

“The Hospice Butterfly Release Celebration honors the memory of those we love and serves as a celebration of life,” Peters says.

For $30, participants can release a live butterfly and receive a T-shirt. The deadline to reserve a butterfly is Friday, May 4, 2018. Businesses and organizations also can sponsor the event.

In addition to releasing live butterflies, the afternoon will include beverages and light snacks for attendees.

Proceeds from the butterfly release help relieve the financial burden for those in need when facing end-of-life decisions. This event benefits the Phelps Regional Health Care Foundation’s Hospice Fund, which assists hospice patients and their families with prescription medications, personal bills, food supplements and other needs.

An extensive team of professionals and volunteers with Phelps Regional Homecare deliver hospice care to patients in this region. Hospice care staff responds to people’s needs for comfort, empowerment and self-directed care while supporting the patients’ families both during patients’ illnesses and after death. The goal of hospice care is to maintain the highest quality of life and dignity to the greatest extent possible for patients.

In addition to hospice, Phelps Regional Homecare offers home health and in-home services. Phelps Regional Homecare serves all of Phelps, Crawford, Maries and Pulaski counties and portions of Dent, Gasconade and Texas counties.

For more information about the butterfly release, to reserve a butterfly or sponsor the event, call 573-458-3802 or email To donate to the Hospice Fund, visit