Friday, August 17, 2012

Full Circle Hospice Experience

I want to share an experience with you from last week because it really gave me an appreciation for the work I do, the organization I work for, the people I work with and the patients and families who have experiences with Hospice of Southern Illinois. My job consists of lots of time in front of the computer, lots of time brainstorming with my team and lots of networking with professionals about how our services can help patients. I don’t usually get to work with the patients and families, but last week I was given the opportunity to meet with a patient and a family and share with them how our services may be able to help.
I walked into a very tidy home, down a hallway and into the bedroom of a very alert, slightly uncomfortable person and their caregiver. While both of them were very friendly, saying hello and welcoming me in, they had a concerned tone in their voices and look on their faces. Without too much more thought about what they were wondering about me, (because I could only imagine what I would be thinking if a 24 year old woman came into my to talk to me about hospice, a word that is often avoided) I opened the conversation with some small talk to let them know I was there to help answer questions and help get them the resources they needed.
After the concern left their faces and I knew they felt they could trust me, I moved into conversation about Hospice of Southern Illinois’ services how we help control pain associated with terminal illnesses, how all medical equipment is provided at no cost to patients related to the terminal illness and how we are available to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with questions or emergencies. After agreeing that hospice would help improve the quality of life of the person I was visiting, I gave our doctor, Dr. Lynne Nowak, a call.
After hearing her in action, it all hit me. Hospice is not a word to be avoided; it should be a word of relief. I mean I had been taught that before, told that before and seen it before, but that day and in that moment, I got to experience it again. Moments like that make you understand why I do what I do. The doctor I work with every day, Dr. Nowak, was already telling me when the nurse would come out and talking about ordering supplies with her team back at the office. It was like a firework of compassion had gone off and I got to hear it with my own ears and in front of the person who needed it most. Besides the concern leaving their faces, I could see relief setting in as fast as our doctor was talking.
Several weeks later I learned that the individual that I visited that day, who even shared with me a nickname only the family knows, wanted to come celebrate my wedding with me and had pride for a clean home and happy family, had passed away. This was a very emotional moment for me. I have not experienced much loss in my life and although I only met with this person for an hour, the impact left on my heart was a big one.
When I think back to that day I think of how I really got to see our team in action. They moved so fast and so efficient, but with so much passion and determination to make this patient as comfortable as possible in the shortest amount of time. The people I work with every day had completed their first visit and ordered oxygen and other medical supplies for the patient within hours and had a plan of care set with the patient and family’s wishes in mind by the very next day.
Wow is that powerful! In only one hour, I, hospice was able to relieve a patient and their family from some stress associated with a terminal illness. In only one more hour, some of the physical pain related to the diagnosis was gone. And within minutes, the family was connected to resources they would need over the next few weeks. I am so appreciative of my encounter with that patient and their family that day. They helped me remember why I do what I do. I have to admit that sometimes sad, and this time it was. I was glad I got to experience this moment in my life because I got to see how hospice can change a person’s quality of life within hours, maybe even minutes, advocating for the best care the patient could get. That day was one I will remember a long time because while I felt like I got to help someone in need, they probably helped me even more.
Help us share, educate, and reach out by subscribing to our blog and suggesting it to friends who will spread our message: Hospice of Southern Illinois is here to teach you what hospice is, what we are about, and what we can do for you and your loved ones. No one has to go through the dying process alone. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help.

Live well, laugh often, and love much,
Christine Juehne
Hospice of Southern Illinois
Community Education

No comments:

Post a Comment