EveryStep Hospice Council Bluffs Team: The right care, at the right time, at the right place

When Ronald Nixon met Alma Andrews in 1963, it was love at first sight. A friend had introduced them and two months after that first hello, Ronald asked Alma to marry him. “I thought she was just a wonderful person,” says Ronald. “I told her if we got married, it was going to be forever.” Married for 58 years, Alma and Ronald made their home in Council Bluffs and raised a daughter and a son.

When Alma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Ronald made the decision to care for her in their home. It wasn’t an easy time for the couple, but Ronald was by Alma’s side as he had promised. When Alma was diagnosed with breast cancer, the challenges became greater.

“They operated to remove the breast, but about a month later, there was another lump,” says Ronald. The doctor advised against a second operation so close to the first and started Alma on chemotherapy. After three treatments, the doctor said she was too weak to continue chemotherapy. He told Ronald to prepare for Alma’s death.

Before he left the treatment facility that day, Ronald was handed a phone number. It was the number for the EveryStep Hospice team in Council Bluffs (a non-profit provider, formerly known as Hospice With Heart).

Ronald did his best to continue to care for Alma in their home, but when she lost her equilibrium and could not safely move about their home, Ronald needed help. He called that phone number. “You need all the help you can get when you’re [in a situation] like this,” says Ronald.

Because Ronald wanted to provide Alma with hospice care at their home, nurses would visit twice a week to care for Alma, and offer companionship and support to Ronald.

Rebecca Burke, a hospice aide with EveryStep Hospice in Council Bluffs, was part of the team that helped Ronald and Alma. “Rebecca is a fantastic woman,” says Ronald.

The EveryStep team provided in-home hospice care for Alma for eight months. On August 30, 2021, Alma passed away in her home with Ronald by her side. EveryStep’s care and support continues for Ronald. “They call and talk to me, and they all think I’m going to be okay. It’s going to take a little more time, but I’ll be okay,” says Ronald.

Though the grief of losing his wife is still painfully fresh for Ronald, he speaks enthusiastically about EveryStep’s Council Bluffs hospice team. He says anyone in a situation like his should not hesitate contacting EveryStep. “I think it’s a fantastic outfit and they really helped us a lot. I’d tell anyone to get a hold of EveryStep as fast as they can.”

To learn more about care options for yourself or a loved one, complete EveryStep’s “Find Care” form at everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will then call you to answer your questions and to see if your loved one could benefit from a free hospice referral visit.

To learn more about the services EveryStep Hospice offers, visit www.everystep.org/services/hospice.