A Heart for Hospice

Posted by Clinical Supervisor Jill Hoff, BSN, RN

A Heart for Hospice
Jill Hoff, BSN, RN, is Clinical Supervisor of Midwest CareCenter's Marshak Family Hospice Pavilion.

I wished to be a nurse for as long as I can remember.

Even while in high school, I served as a candy striper and nursing assistant. When I graduated early at age 16, I only briefly considered a four-year university, but I didn't want to spend two years earning general education requirements in areas like history or literature. I thought "I'm 16 years old and time's a-fleetin', I want to be a nurse!"

I graduated from a two-year program in 1980 from the former St. Francis Hospital in Evanston. By the end of my senior year, I was hired in the St. Francis intensive care unit. But within five years I started my family and switched to home health care for more flexible work hours. The switch was also for the patients' sake, because I'm the kind of nurse that needs to be the best nurse.

It's hard to be a good ICU nurse and only work one or two days a week. But with home health care you are still tending to patients with ALS, on ventilators and so forth, so it was still critical care nursing, which is my passion.

As my children grew older, I returned to ICU nursing at several local hospitals. And my passion remained steadfast.

At every employee review the classic question they ask is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" And my answer was always "I see myself at the bedside giving exceptional care to critically ill patients."

That vision changed, however, as I began meeting all of my personal career goals. This included returning to school for my bachelor's degree, which I earned from Chamberlain College of Nursing in 2012. I felt almost an obligation to begin raising the next generation of nurses.

After graduation, a friend and former colleague initially connected me with Midwest CareCenter, access nurse Pam Biasco. My interest in Midwest CareCenter was also piqued through other friends and colleagues, including Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Martha Twaddle, as well as Board Member Dr. E. Dennis Murphy and former committee chair Jeffery Vender, MD.

I realized early on that I had an affinity for dying patients and their families, even in ICU. And what brought me here are people who are already involved and whose judgment I trust and respect.

I joined Midwest CareCenter in 2013 and spent roughly one year as a part-time field nurse, caring for patients in their homes. I was wowed from the start of new employee orientation, pleased that CEO and President Jamie O'Malley spoke to us new hires, along with all department heads explaining their roles.

They laid out the whole vision of the organization. From that very beginning week, my colleagues and I agreed that we felt such a sense of ownership for this place. We really felt like we had a responsibility to support Midwest CareCenter and ensure its longevity. I thought that was very, very powerful.

After the short year I spent working in patient homes, I knew I had made the right choice coming to hospice and palliative care.

I had a heart for hospice all of these years and I've confirmed that this is where my heart is. My values match Midwest CareCenter's philosophy.

Today, I serve as the clinical supervisor for the 16-bed Marshak Family Hospice Pavilion, a role I started at the end of 2014. I am constantly amazed by my colleagues and the thread that connects us all: a passion for hospice and palliative care.

It's wonderful that we have work that feeds the soul.

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