Hospice Admissions...In the Beginning
Before becoming a hospice nurse, my professional career included extensive time serving in an intensive care unit, a coronary care unit and an emergency room, where the adrenaline and energy was high. Goals for a patient would be improvement and the constant search for “what would make them better?” — a frequent question asked by families. No one would mention in-depth comfort or quality of life.
I had always admired hospice nurses, not completely understanding myself (already a nurse) what hospice was all about. I believed hospice was called in when end of life meant almost end of shift.
I held various other roles, including working at a community clinic, public health facilities and home health agencies. When I had the opportunity to work firsthand with various hospice agencies, for the first time I had the audacity to believe I could be a hospice nurse.
After making the decision to go for it, I began my hospice career as an on-call nurse, then became a case manager, then a team manager of a completely Spanish-speaking interdisciplinary team that served the Chicago area. I traded “making people better” to making them “more comfortable.”
I joined Journey Care’s Admissions Team, and now provide individualized care and detailed information on hospice and palliative care to patients, families and the medical community.
In the beginning, most families are emotional and inquisitive, and most patients are anxious and scared.
Many patients I’ve had the honor of bringing on to hospice service have said:
“I wish I would have understood hospice before. I had no idea...”
“...an entire team is devoted to making this choice/option possible.”
“...that an entire (interdisciplinary) team would care so much for my well-being.”
“...that my family and close friends are included in the plan of care.”
“...that all medications that have to do with my terminal diagnoses and symptoms are covered and will be delivered to my door.”
“...that an entire after-hours team is available to me and my family, even at 2 am.”
“...that my family will be contacted even after I’m gone.”
“...we walk amongst angels.”
In one of the most vulnerable times in a human’s life, an admission nurse has the professionalism and possibility to change a patient’s and family’s understanding of terminal illness and present them with an option of comfort.
The thought I can participate and be present at those life-changing moments is indescribable. Being masterful in explaining the diagnosis and how hospice can make a difference in a patient’s quality of life is vital to the success of the hospice experience. (The ability to articulate and deliver a hospice presentation effectively has often been described as an art.) I’ m grateful to have the opportunity every day.