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Matthew House: a decade of comfort and care

Only two-bedroom comfort-care home in region has helped nearly 200 terminal patients and their families over past 10 years

— "It is the most wonderful thing to be able to provide what we provide at no charge," Young said.

Of the nearly 200 residents that have come to Matthew House, their ages have ranged from 34 to 100. They arrive in various states of health: some are ambulatory, some are on stretchers and some are bedbound. The majority of residents who stay have terminal cancer.

There are many reasons that people come to Matthew House at the end of their lives, Young said. Some move in with their families, sometimes there is no family caregiver able to give the necessary 24-hour support, sometimes a family just needs additional support or is not equipped at their homes to deal with the end of life journey, she said.

Matthew House has around 60 resident caregivers who are hands-on with the residents. They sit with them, read to them, give them medications, treat their symptoms, bathe and feed them, do their laundry and cleaning, and "basically act as a family member," Young said. Medical care is provided by Hospice.

"This is a truly wonderful place, I call it a home away from home for the residents," said resident caregiver Monica Czechowicz, a retired Catholic chaplain who has been volunteering at Matthew House for four years. "The families are always so pleased once they come here, and they always say, 'we should have come here sooner.'"

What is unique about Matthew House is that it is the only two-bedroom comfort care home in the Central New York region, and they have residents not only from Auburn, but also from Skaneateles, Jordan-Elbridge, and Seneca Falls.

The only other similar care facility in the region is the St. Francis House in Onondaga County, which has 16 beds.

"Because Matthew House only has two residents at one time, there is such a difference for a calmer, quieter, peaceful end of life experience," said Nancy Siefka, director of the Cayuga County Office for the Aging, who also served on the Matthew House board of directors for a short time. "They are definitely a wonderful organization and they really fill a niche in the community. The fact that [Matthew House] is connected with Hospice is a real benefit, and also that they have so many dedicated volunteers who help make it a wonderful place."

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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