Ellie (Eleanor Dutcher) Atherton was born in Syracuse, New York, and grew up in a small suburb outside of the city, called Liverpool. When she was eleven, her dad fell in love with the Massachusettes Berkshires while on business there, and he soon after moved the family to Greenfield, Massachusettes.
Ellie has always had a love of writing and kept journals and diaries from a young age. She often wrote poetry for friends and family, and as a teen aspired to be a teacher. Ellie moved to New Hampshire in 1984 and still lives in the small town of Candia, where her three children Laura, Daniel, and Adam, were raised. Her family has grown to include a son-in-law Kyle and three grandchildren, Brennan, Calla, and Quinn. Time with family is what she enjoys most, and Ellie says her grandchildren are the best medicine in the world for anything.
Ellie has a long history of caring for people who are nearing the end of their lives. In the 1990s, she worked with many as an herbalist, helping them to discover ways to find comfort. Though she could not offer cures for their life-threatening diseases, she was able to help them elongate their lives with a focus on enjoying what time they had left. They shared deep and profound conversations with her, and Ellie found she was comfortable in these discussions. Little did she know life was about to throw her a curveball, that would change the course of her life path dramatically.
In early 2000, as she prepared to be a single parent, she embarked on a nursing career. As a new hospice nurse in 2003, Ellie quickly learned that the majority of her nurse colleagues were not comfortable talking to the patients in the way she had as an herbalist. She was discouraged by leadership from having such conversations. and told that it was not the role of a nurse to discuss patients’ feelings, emotions, or fears about dying, these were best left to the hospice chaplains and social workers. Yet many patients were refusing visits from those disciplines. So, should they just be left to worry and wonder? Ellie didn’t think so.
That is when her passive resistance began, and the seeds of this book were planted. She carried journals in her car, to record the details of the profound conversations she and her patients were having. She wrote at length about the incredible unexplained events she was witnessing, and the important lessons she was learning from these experts on death— the dying patients.
In 2017, after many attempts to write the book, Stepping-Stones finally began to flow freely onto the pages for her. The process was cathartic, invigorating, and necessary. Ellie spent two years writing more than forty stories and has included ten of them in this first book Stepping-Stones ~Following a Pathway to the End of Life.
Ellie’s Bio click here
Ellie is an herbalist of over 40 years, who started making plant medicines as a teenager in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, she planted her first herb garden, which grew into a teaching garden for her students—offering medicinal plant identification of over 200 species. She offered clients natural approaches to healing through health consultations, making them plant medicines tailored to their specific needs. She advocated for and spoke on the safe use of herbal medicines throughout New England. Ellie’s presentations were well received by the medical community, the general public, as well as many college and university programs. For many years she offered a course that she designed, called Herbalism and Natural Healing, to hundreds of participants.
Ellie served as adjunct faculty at Manchester Community College, where she offered a course in herbal studies. Many of her students went on to pursue more in-depth training, while others opened product line businesses using the knowledge and hands-on teaching she had shared. In the mid-1990s, Ellie was a writer for the Manchester Union Leader – Little Newspapers division offering a column called-Herb of the Week. The column introduced readers to the growth, cultivation, culinary, and safe medicinal use of plants.
In 2000, Ellie embarked on a nursing career, and after graduation in 2003 decided the field of medicine she felt most connected to was hospice. She became certified as a Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse (CHPN) and later advanced her certification to become a Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse Educator (CHPNE). This enabled her to offer teaching on palliative care and pain management to physicians and nurses. She was one of the first Providers Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) educators trained in the state of New Hampshire. This was an effort to get patients’ health care wishes recognized and entered into their medical record. Ellie became a Certified Hospice Consultant through the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).
In 2010 Ellie was given the opportunity to open a hospice program for a large Visiting Nurse Association. The role was both challenging and rewarding as it quickly grew into a successful program. The healthcare providers she helped to assemble remain among the most exceptional hospice team she has ever worked alongside. After leaving the hospice director role, she opened a holistic health care center that encompassed her knowledge as a nurse and herbalist, allowing her to offer holistic-health consultations—bringing her back to her roots.
Ellie began offering private nurse advocacy services to assist patients through the challenges of a complicated medical system in 2016. She facilitates meetings in many settings, including nursing and assisted living facilities, private homes, and hospitals. When patients request more clarity regarding their options, meetings with their caregivers, and healthcare team, especially their physicians and surgeons, facilitated by a private nurse advocate, can be powerfully effective. She aptly named the service Healthcare Guide. Ellie is best known for her thorough, compassionate care and for untiring advocacy for her patients, colleagues, and staff.
Ellie is currently working on several books and a podcast, so please stay tuned.
Wishing you peace. ~ Ellie