In honor of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, we are celebrating the hospice and healthcare workers who hold the hands and hearts of our patients and their families every day. In tribute to the physical, emotional and spiritual work they do, each blog this month will bring you an up close look at how they bring compassionate care to patients and families in extraordinary ways. We hope you will be inspired by these stories which shine the spotlight on these everyday heroes.
As a music therapist for hospice and palliative care patients, I feel incredibly grateful each day that I have the privilege to do this unique work. This November I reflect on National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and realize I can honestly say that I absolutely love my job and the work that we do here at JourneyCare.
In my journey as a music therapist, I experience so many touching moments with our patients. But what makes my work especially worthwhile are the “WOW” or breathtaking moments. And sometimes, when I least expect it, a “nice” visit can become one of my best.
I look forward to our Tree of Lights celebrations every year. My personal experience with grief and loss has been eased by participating not only as a staff member, but a grieving person in my own right. Let me share a story with you ...
In the past 18 years, I have had the privilege of providing grief support to family members of hospice patients as well as members of the community at-large. Little did I know when I began my connection to JourneyCare as a volunteer over 20 years ago, I would become part of one of the most compassionate organizations that serves people at the most critical juncture in their lives. What was once a small agency now reaches across 10 counties in the Chicago region.
For World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, Nurse Katie Fernandez explains the team-based approach care patients and their loved ones receive through hospice.
I have been working with hospice patients for 15 years. My role as a hospice nurse is tightly woven into the team I work with: physicians, other registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. We collaborate as we work together to manage the needs of those we care for. I am deeply grateful to work with committed professionals as we apply our strengths to soothe the physical, emotional and spiritual struggles that patients and families are dealing with.
It's Health Unit Coordinators Week (August 23-29) and JourneyCare recognizes the importance of our Team Care Coordinators, who help keep our CareCenters running smoothly for our staff, patients and families. Thank you to all our TCCs! We appreciate the hard work and compassionate care you provide every day of the year!
I love working as a Team Care Coordinator for JourneyCare at The Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter. It amazes me the negative stigma that hospice has with the public. I am always confronted when I tell someone where I work, “Oh, I could never do that.” As for me, I could not imagine doing anything else.
Our clinical team cared for a wonderful hospice patient in McHenry County who lived in a little wooden cabin house, directly on the lakefront. Every person on our team said it was a dream house, directly on the water with a sandy beach and a fire pit right outside the front door.
The only thing was, Gabe was dying and alone inside this home. He no longer could even walk down the steep lawn to the lake anymore, not without assistance.
Tim serves as our Chaplain at JourneyCare’s inpatient units in Glenview and Arlington Heights. Tim joined our JourneyCare staff last fall after having volunteered for nearly fifteen years. He previously spent many years in the financial services arena until he had a calling to Chaplaincy and completed his Master’s degree at Loyola University in Chicago.
Prior to joining JourneyCare, he served as a Chaplain at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. Tim says he has the best job in the world and gets to laugh, cry, and pray with people every day.
I am often mindful of the quote by Albert Einstein, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” I feel that there is a driving force inside of me to help others, to relieve suffering, not as a noble endeavor to call attention to myself, but because I have been given so much. I want to use my talents and opportunities to help relieve the burdens of others. This is what I strive to do.
What is a memorable patient story for me? My husband’s dear friend of many years was diagnosed with a rapidly progressing form of ALS at age 62. He and his wife were part of a group of friends who had stayed in touch for many years, through many changes. His daughters were my children’s babysitters.
This is my 29th year as a hospice social worker, and my 26th year with JourneyCare and its legacy hospices. I wish I had a dime for everyone who has ever said to me, “Gee, your work must be so depressing …” I would have a truckload of money and I might have retired by now! But I think it’s better this way: I love what I do, I have never found it depressing and I’m in no hurry to retire from it.
Being a hospice social worker demands a very full toolkit of both clinical and non-clinical skills. Sometimes people have misconceptions about what a social worker is and does, so when I walk into a patient’s home for the first time, I am very conscious of the need to quickly establish a rapport so I can explain my role on the team and patients and their families begin to share freely with me.
Patty Ryan is a Harper College graduate in Legal Technology (Paralegal), who has worked in Healthcare for the last 10 years. She has worked for JourneyCare in Barrington for three years as the Team Care Coordinator for the Amber and Ruby teams.
She loves being part of her teams and has a deep respect for what all the disciplines are doing together for a pain free and peaceful passing of our patients.
The message was simple, but powerful. “Thank you” are the words our supporters heard when they picked up the phone on Thursday, January 25 during the JourneyCare Foundation’s annual Thank-a-Thon. Volunteers from throughout our agency – the Foundation, Board members, leadership and volunteers – spent the day calling our nearly 7,000 generous donors from the WTTW studios in Chicago to express our gratitude for all they make possible.