Pat Matthes: A Heart for Hospice

After a long career dedicated to helping others, Bay City native, Pat Matthes, is retiring at the end of May. Pat has served as a Social Worker for Houston Hospice for thirteen years.

Pat Matthes

Pat Matthes

During that time, he regularly traveled throughout a 50-mile radius of his El Campo office; helping patients and families during their times of greatest need.

Pat’s career as a Social Worker began in 1976. During an almost 40-year career he worked in private practice, helped special needs patients in Bay City, and tried his hand at Hospital Administration before filling a rewarding niche as a Social Worker for Houston Hospice. “I love my job very much,” said Pat. “I love the team. I love the people at Houston Hospice. They’re a class act.” When asked what he’ll miss most Pat answered, “I’m going to miss hearing people’s stories. There are always beautiful stories in hospice.”

Pat’s colleagues anticipate that his absence will be strongly felt. Houston Hospice Professional Relations Liaison, Tiffany Livanec said, “If there was a national ‘Heart of Hospice’ award, Pat would certainly be the recipient. I’ve rarely met anyone who didn’t know him, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t sing his praises. He will definitely be greatly missed.”

Volunteer Coordinator, Gloria Garza said of Pat, “We have been together for so many years with Houston Hospice – El Campo. He is an amazing, compassionate and kind soul. I am greatly going to miss my friend!”

Pat’s not exactly sure what he’ll do in retirement, but he knows it will involve helping people. He plans to volunteer for First Baptist Church of Bay City where he’s a member. Pat said he likes building things and looks forward to helping the Baptist Men’s Association, a group that provides assistance in the aftermath of disaster. He said he might consider volunteering with hospitals and hospice too.

Houston Hospice is Houston’s only nonprofit hospice, providing care for patients and families throughout ten counties. To learn more about Pat’s retirement celebration or the local services offered by Houston Hospice, visit www.houstonhospice.org, or call 979-578-0314 or 800-420-6193.

-Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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The Man in Overalls

Overalls

The volunteer called and said she would not be able to make her regular shift at the reception desk. As the Volunteer Coordinator, it fell to me to sit at the desk that afternoon. It happened to be a very busy day. Four patients were admitted in just two hours. I was frantically trying to keep up when a man clad in bib overalls came in the front door. He looked around slowly and approached the desk. He told me his wife was coming to the Hospice from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that afternoon. He wanted to know what room she would be in. I gave him the information, offered him a cup of coffee and invited him to make himself comfortable while he waited for the ambulance to bring his wife.

After he got his coffee, I expected him to go into the family room or go to his wife’s room to wait. Instead, he just stood there, looking at me with woefully sad eyes. The silence was heavy. I didn’t really know what to say; lots of things were racing through my mind. I was searching for something brilliant, meaningful, perhaps even profound, to say to make him feel better. I was coming up with nothing when I remembered volunteer training. Maybe this was one of those times when silence was the best choice.

So, I stopped what I was doing, looked at him and smiled, just a little. With a heavy sigh, he put his callused hands up on the ledge and began to talk, very slowly. He talked of his wife’s cancer, of her pain and of his pain, as a result of hers. He talked about his daughter and how she helped so much. He talked about his wife wanting to stay with her sister if she stabilized enough to leave here. He said he really didn’t like staying anywhere except home but right now his wishes didn’t matter much. He said all he wanted was for her not to hurt, be as happy as she could be and make the most of the time she had left. He was willing to do whatever it took, even sleep in a strange bed, if that is what she wanted.

He looked off in the distance, shook his head and told me about the many people he and his wife had helped over the years. These same people were nowhere to be found now that they could use some friendly support. His eyes became teary as he shared how the parking lot attendant at M.D. Anderson had only charged him for one day’s parking after he lost his ticket and told her he had been there for at least three days.

He marveled at how a complete stranger could be so kind when lifelong friends didn’t even call. His voice cracked as he wondered out loud why these people couldn’t just say it was too hard to visit and see his wife so sick. Instead, they said nothing and their silence really hurt. He hung his head, wiped a tear from his cheek and asked where he could smoke. After I told him, he turned slowly and left, without another word.

I sat there quietly thinking about what had just occurred. I felt so privileged to have been allowed to listen as this gentle man poured out his hurts, to me, a stranger. I don’t know why he chose me, except maybe he took the silence that I wrestled with as an invitation to say what had probably been on his mind and in his heart for a very long time. I hope he felt better after he talked. I know listening to him was a gift for me. I learned valuable lessons from that man in bib overalls. I learned never to put off calling a hurting friend, even if I don’t know what to say. I know and I care says it all.

By the way, I also learned not to judge men in bib overalls!

-Patsy Piner, Houston Hospice Volunteer Coordinator

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GIRL WHO INSPIRED “THE FAULT IN OUR STARS” STILL INSPIRES WITH HELP FROM HER PARENTS

Esther Grace Earl’s short life inspired the bestselling book, The Fault in Our Stars and the blockbuster movie of the same name. Since her death in 2010 she is far from forgotten as her parents prepare to bring her story to Houston and extend Esther Grace’s exuberant influence on Thursday, April 2 at the 2015 Houston Hospice Butterfly Luncheon.

This Star Won't Go Out

Lori and Wayne Earl, Esther’s parents and co-authors of New York Times Bestseller and Goodreads Choice 2014 winner This star won’t go out: The Life & Words of Esther Grace Earl, will share the amazing story of Esther Grace; her battle with cancer and her wit, courage and unflappable spirit that inspired one of the biggest teen phenomena of our era. With Esther as muse, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars explored the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

People Magazine gave This star won’t go out 4 stars saying, “This moving read will have you reaching for the tissues and smiling with delight. Stunningly alive on the page, Esther shows that sometimes the true meaning of life—helping and loving others—can be found even when bravely facing death.”

Together, Lori and Wayne contributed to and curated the memoir of their daughter, Esther Grace Earl. One of five children, Esther was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 12-years old. Before losing her battle with cancer in 2010, Esther’s friendship with John Green became the inspiration for the book and movie, The Fault in Our Stars.

Inspired by their daughter’s energy and natural empathy, Esther’s parents set up the non-profit foundation This Star Won’t Go Out (TSWGO). The foundation works to serve families with children diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. To date, TSWGO has given away $200,000 in financial grants.

Lori Earl works as an Instructor and Student Success Coach at Quincy College. A certified secondary English teacher, with degrees in Psychology and Intercultural Studies, she is passionate about encouraging others to move towards wholeness, live life fully, and make a difference in their world.

Wayne and Lori Earl_Credit Jesse Costa-WBUR

Lori and Wayne Earl – Photo Credit Jesse Costa

Wayne Earl has taught philosophy for many years at Quincy College and he taught English overseas in Belgium and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Wayne has served several churches as a protestant minister in Massachusetts and France and worked as an ecumenical chaplain for Volunteers of America, a social services organization that focuses its work serving the very neediest. In college and seminary Wayne studied psychology and theology and he recently completed doctoral studies in Spirituality and Story at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC. His doctoral project focused on young adult grief and resilience and is entitled: Giving Sorrow Words: Helping Young Adult Grief Find Its Voice.

The Butterfly Luncheon supports a cause that is very close to the Earl’s hearts — it benefits the operations of Houston Hospice and provides the primary funds to support the Butterfly Program. The Houston Hospice Butterfly Program was established in 1996 to provide for the distinct hospice needs of infants and youth aged 18 and younger. The program includes perinatal services for families who have received a prenatal diagnosis indicating their infant will likely have a limited lifespan. A Butterfly Team consisting of physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, aides and volunteers with expertise in children’s physical and emotional well-being, is devoted to caring for children and their families. The Butterfly Program’s maxim is, “Measure not the length of their days, but the grace of their flight.”

On behalf of Chairmen Lesha and Tom Elsenbook, the community is invited to attend the Butterfly Luncheon and be inspired by Esther Grace, through her parents Lori and Wayne Earl, on Thursday, April 2, 2015 at the beautiful Houstonian Hotel located at 111 North Post Oak Lane, Houston, Texas 77024. Individual tickets and table reservations are available at www.houstonhospice.org. For more information about the Houston Hospice Butterfly Program and Luncheon, visit www.houstonhospice.org or call 713-677-7123.

Founded in 1980, Houston Hospice has evolved from an alternative, grass roots concept to a leader in hospice care for people of all ages and walks of life. Houston’s oldest, largest, independent hospice is a nonprofit organization that is community-based and community-supported. Houston Hospice serves Texans from all socio-economic groups irrespective of ethnicity or beliefs. Care is provided in-home and in residential facilities throughout Austin, Brazoria, Colorado, Fort Bend, Harris, Jackson, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller and Wharton Counties. Inpatient and respite care is provided through the Margaret Cullen Marshall Hospice Care Center located in the Texas Medical Center.

-Karla Goolsby

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HOSPICE SERVICES SUPPORT THE LOVING CARE OF FAMILIES

As our population ages, medical professionals are finding that cultural factors influence the decisions of the patients and their families as their illnesses progress. End of life care involves a time of

Dr. Hanh Trinh

Dr. Hanh Trinh

medical, financial, and emotional changes for patients and their families. Patients can be referred to hospice when they are diagnosed with a terminal condition with a prognosis of 6 months or less. Hospice provides a team-oriented method of addressing not just physical pain, but also spiritual and emotional pain.

The cost of hospice care is covered entirely by Medicare and Medicaid for patients with these benefits. For those patients with private insurance, verifying benefits with the insurance company is important prior to signing on. The hospice team can provide services wherever the patient lives, whether that is in a home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. In the case that the patient has uncontrolled symptoms of pain, nausea, shortness of breath, or restlessness, hospice has inpatient facilities which may provide a higher level of care.

Having a hospice team to address their concerns and a 24-hour hospice nurse to call can provide families with the peace of mind that they are not alone, even in their most trying times. The hospice team can follow patients and families on their journey through illness; from the time their active treatments are no longer beneficial, to comforting moments enriched by hospice’s supportive care when patients can be among their loved ones. To learn more about hospice comfort care visit www.houstonhospice.org or call 713-467-7423 (713-HOSPICE).

Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD

Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD, MBA, FAAFP, FAAHPM, WCC, is an Associate Medical Director at Houston Hospice in Houston, Texas. She received her medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans and trained in family medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Following residency, she completed her geriatric fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine and her palliative medicine fellowship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She joined Houston Hospice in 2007 and serves as the Education Liaison.

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A Bucket List Fishing Tale

FishOne day late last summer, the Houston Hospice Intake Team was answering calls as usual on a Wednesday morning when my colleague, Marcy Antiuk, received an unexpected call, and an unusual request. A doctor phoned to tell us that her patient wanted to be admitted to our inpatient hospice care center, but he had one last desire before discontinuing treatments and surrendering to his disease. You see, this man’s disease had progressed to the point that ceasing treatment would decrease his life expectancy to a matter of days. He needed to be transitioned to hospice services that day due to symptom management issues, but first, he wanted to go on one last fishing trip. In fact, . Working in the hospice field, we’re accustomed to satisfying end-of-life requests, and we often grant day passes out of our facility for this purpose. These are typically outings to visit other family members or to have a meal out. Journeying to the edge of our coverage area for several hours was not an issue. However, this man had a severe and painful wound at the base of his spine that made moving him difficult — transportation would be the key to successfully executing this bucket list wish. The family had already inquired about private-pay ambulance transport, but the quote they received was overwhelming — several hundred dollars, maybe even a thousand. Gathering a team of individuals (Larissa Williams, Dr. Elizabeth Strauch, Jayne O’Brien and me), we discussed the patient’s condition and possible complications. We determined that the request was reasonable as long as the patient was safe, and stable enough to make the trip. An evaluation by our Admitting Nurse, Debbie Breaux, confirmed that the patient’s symptoms were manageable, however it also revealed that pain management was a concern. Because of the expensive private ambulance quote, the man’s family had decided to transport him to the fishing pier in a family vehicle. He desperately wanted this last fishing trip, but we feared the car ride would cause excruciating pain. The only safe option was transportation via ambulance, so we started calling our contracted ambulance companies asking if they would consider a full or partial charity transport. Orion EMS came to the rescue. After gathering only a small amount of information, they immediately agreed to cover all transportation expenses in order to fulfill this last request! Arrangements were made to pick up the patient the very next day. Houston Hospice provided a wheelchair and oxygen for the patient to use during the trip. Hollie Sims and I assisted while Orion EMS transported the patient to his fishing pier. The water, the pier, the landscape—everything was perfect. The late summer sunlight shimmering from the water was matched only by the twinkle in our patient’s eyes. After he finished fishing, Orion EMS provided a safe and comfortable ride to the inpatient unit. This was a great collaborative effort by many people with a triumphant blessing as an end result—just another reason why we love this work so very much.

Thomas Moore, Houston Hospice Patient Care Manager

 

 

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Is Profit Seeking Trumping Care? Nonprofit vs. For Profit Hospice

The truth is, most people don’t think about hospice at all until it becomes a necessity. The concept of hospice is relatively new in the United States. However, as the number of hospice providers grows, with varying degrees of quality, it’s important to be informed. Hospice places its emphasis on quality of life with care that’s tailored to the unique needs of each individual and their support network. When curative treatments cease to help, the relief of palliative care can bring a new form of hope for terminally ill patients and their families, as hospice services help them make the most of their time together. In 2007, research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management reported that hospice patients lived an average 29 days longer than similar patients who did not have hospice care.

When it came to the United States from England in the 1970s, the hospice movement began as a grass-roots campaign to address the unmet needs of patients with terminal illnesses. The benefits of this care were quickly recognized by the medical establishment. In a 1978 report, a U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare task force noted both the altruistic and practical advantages of government support for hospice care: “The hospice movement as a concept for the care of the terminally ill and their families is a viable concept and one which holds out a means of providing more humane care for Americans dying of terminal illness while possibly reducing costs. As such, it is the proper subject of federal support.” In 1982, Congress included a provision to create a Medicare hospice benefit in the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

With hospice services covered by Medicare, what started as a purely charitable movement became a probable source of revenue. As a result, the number of for-profit agencies entering into the business of hospice has grown exponentially, with

alarming results. An article published by the Washington Post on May 3, 2014 entitled “Terminal neglect: How some hospices treat dying patients” reported that the quality of care provided by 920x1240hospices varies widely. A Washington Post investigation analyzed Medicare billing records for over 2,500 hospices, obtained an internal Medicare tally of nursing care in patients near death and reviewed complaint records at hundreds of hospices. At many hospices, they discovered that little care was provided for patients most in need. The investigation ascribed this absence of care to skimping on nurses, and to the failure of these hospices to have access to a facility where continuous crisis care could be provided. The investigation found that about 18 percent of U.S. hospices did not provide a single day of crisis care.

The investigation noted that the absence of crisis care at those hospices stands in stark contrast to most others, where such care is common. Medicare payment rates and their unintended financial incentives may be responsible. Providing routine care such as semiweekly nursing visits can be very lucrative. However, symptom management that requires continuous nursing care or inpatient care can be financially draining and logistically problematic, especially for smaller agencies.

An area of great concern is the burgeoning growth of home health care businesses that offer hospice. “For-profit home care agencies are bleeding Medicare; they raise costs by $3.3 billion each year and lower the quality of care for frail seniors,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of public health at CUNY’s Hunter College, lecturer at Harvard Medical School. “Letting for-profit companies into Medicare was a huge mistake that Congress needs to correct.”

William Cabin, assistant professor of social work at Temple University and lead author of a nationwide study published in the August 2014 issue of the journal Health Affairs said, “While our study is the first to show that profit-making has trumped patient care in Medicare’s home health program, that’s no surprise. A large body of research on hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis facilities, and HMOs has shown that for-profits deliver inferior care at inflated prices.”

Researchers believe that most hospices are providing quality care and many nurses in the field consider palliative medicine as much a calling as a job. When the hospice movement took root in the United States, hospice practitioners were typically part of religious groups, or were community-supported like the Texas Medical Center’s Houston Hospice. However, since for-profit businesses have come to dominate the industry, early planning and investigation of hospice care options is a necessity.

Karla Goolsby

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I Remember Tommy: Coffee, Cigarettes, Harley Davidson and Hospice

Patsy Piner

Patsy Piner

I remember the first time I saw Tommy. He came for a tour of the Hospice with his aunts. He sat on the couch in the first floor family room where he nodded off several times while I answered the many questions his aunts asked. When we walked down the hall of the first floor, Tommy made comments and had questions too, “Don’t put me in no pink girly room. Do you have an orange and black room? Those are Harley Davidson colors. Manly colors – loved and revered by bikers.” Tommy was a biker, had a Harley and loved to talk about it. He had plans to ride again – just as soon as he felt better. He was here to get his medicines regulated so he could get on with his life. This hospice stuff was an inconvenience he was dealing with begrudgingly.

Tommy was young, in his early forties, and had pretty much lived life on his own terms until brain cancer stopped him in his tracks. He had dealt with the treatments and surgeries the best he knew how, with blend of humor, reality, anger and denial. A kind of cocktail that he partook of each day just to keep going. Little doses of each when needed so he could hear what he had to hear, see what he needed to see and do what must be done.  After his initial visit, Tommy was in the inpatient care center several times and we always knew when he was here. He had been a large man with an outgoing personality before cancer and treatments had taken their toll; his body had changed but his personality remained intact. He made his presence known.

Tommy was blessed by his loving family who took turns caring for him at home and being with him while he was here. The few times he was alone here, he had the volunteers and/or the staff jumping. We all knew Tommy. Ask anyone who met him while he was here what his two favorite things were and I am sure the response will be, “Coffee and cigarettes.” Tommy loved good coffee, particularly Blue Mountain from Central Market and his smokes. I could see Tommy from my desk, sitting outside drinking coffee, smoking, and visiting with his friends, old and new. A few times he managed to sneak out alone. He would sit on the bench, smoke a little and doze a little. On those occasions, I would walk over, gently wake him up, sit and chat for a moment so he could finish his cigarette safely. We would amble back to his room and he usually had me making fresh coffee before I went back to work. Old coffee was a no-no according to Tommy, so the Volunteer department bought a little coffee machine that made just enough to fill a travel cup. That was Tommy’s pot, Tommy’s cup and Tommy’s coffee.

When the last days of Tommy’s life were approaching, his family brought him back here for the end. I saw very little of Tommy that last time; he wasn’t going outside for a smoke and his coffee dispenser was idle. He was in his room on the 2nd floor quietly preparing to die. His mother held his hand and sang “Hush little baby, don’t you cry.” She wanted to be as close to him as she could get, so a nurse found a small plain wooden stool for her. She pulled it close to his bed and stayed there holding his hand and singing for hours. When the time came for Tommy to take his final breath, he did so while being cradled in his mother’s arms – one last time. After Tommy was gone, his mother wanted to do something meaningful in his memory. A simple wooden stool had made such a difference in her last hours with her son that she and her family and friends acted on a suggestion made by the nurse who was with Tommy when he died — every room should have a stool. Now, we have stools in every room and they are there because of Tommy, and his mom, and his family and his friends. Even though they are small plain wooden stools, there is nothing little or ordinary about what they will be used for. We will think of Tommy and his mom each time we see someone sitting on a plain wooden stool close to a bed, saying goodbye. —Patsy Piner is the Houston Hospice Volunteer Coordinator 

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Experiencing The Other Side Of Hospice Care: A Hospice Nurse And Her NFL Husband

I graduated from nursing school relatively late in life, at age 42, with the intention of working for Houston Hospice. My father had been on service in 2010 and, like so many with whom I work; I was inspired by this painful, albeit beautiful experience, and felt called to be a hospice nurse. I volunteered for Houston Hospice prior to graduation, hoping to become familiar with hospice services. After working a year on med surge at our local hospital, I was able to get on the Houston Hospice El Campo Team as an Admissions Nurse.

At this point, I must disclose that three months after graduating from nursing school, in September 2012, my dear husband and best friend, Bryan, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Bryan is phenomenal — a professional football player in the NFL, rancher and surfer; this man embodies strength. The morning before his diagnosis at the ER, he mowed the yard with a collapsed lung! Bryan fought through chemo for six months and when told that his cancer was unresponsive to treatment, he continued fighting on his own terms; holistically and spiritually. When I was hired by Lisa Machen, RN, PCM in July of 2013, she was well aware of Bryan’s condition, however she knew that my heart was in hospice and she believed, rightly so, that when his disease progression began causing issues, she and the El Campo Team would be here for Bryan and me both. In December of 2013, Bryan’s cancer was progressing to the point that hospice care was needed and both Dr. Barker and Lisa Machen came to our home to assess and admit him onto service.

It is difficult to describe the blurred lines that can occur in these kinds of situations. Bryan’s Case Manager, Jackie Hooper, RN, is my friend, my mentor, my co-worker, and….my husband’s hospice nurse. Bryan is her patient but he is my life. I am able to be a calm patient advocate for all of our patients — but not for my husband. The phone calls, the hugs, the voice of reason given by Jackie through this process thus far are beyond words. In addition to feeling like I’ve been emotional for our team, Bryan is what we would all describe as a “difficult patient”! He may sleep 18 hours a day and then get up and decide to chop down a tree… or disappear to go fishing for hours without his phone. Trying to keep him safe and manage his symptoms, while encouraging his autonomy has been an arduous effort. Jackie has been wonderful at developing a rapport with him, educating Bryan and supporting his efforts to ‘be a man’ to his fullest. As a case manager, Jackie is a wonderful example of patient advocacy. She is proactive and yet equanimous at her core.

And then there is me, with a husband who’s a patient on hospice, still learning and finding my footing in my chosen field. Jackie, Lisa, and the rest of our team, have exemplified patience and support for me. Sharing hugs, a kind ear, and special notes and cards, they have managed to help me feel grounded and protected throughout this painful process. Pat Matthes, not a nurse but a wonderful social worker, has been such a pillar of support and reassurance. Victoria and Karen in our office, have been blessings as well, always available to share a hug or laugh with me. And then there’s Dr. Barker, what a true angel.

Knowing the ‘end result’ of Bryan’s illness does not lessen the journey that we are on. I truly cannot fathom walking this road without the Houston Hospice El Campo Team. The gratitude and love I feel for Jackie and Lisa, and the whole team is humbling and inspiring. These nurses are walking beside me, pulling ahead, and pushing behind when needed. I am inspired by them professionally and personally, and I am so very grateful.

Krista Caldwell, RN, Admission Nurse Houston Hospice El Campo

Krista and Bryan

Krista and Bryan

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Houston Hospice Nurses: Every Word, Every Action A Gift

I was surprised that within my first two months of working at Houston Hospice, a childhood friend contacted me to say that her grandmother was being admitted to our inpatient unit. She was 96 and very much beloved from a long life. After emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot, she continued to have tiny, persistent strokes. Days of monitoring, setbacks, bad news, and countless decisions left the family’s nerves frayed. Then, they made the difficult decision to stop trying to save their loved one.

“Mimi” was admitted after business hours on a Tuesday. When I arrived at the room, the family was just getting settled, and we all started crying. Fortunately, I soon realized that the tears were more of relief and assurance than of sadness. The family told me that even though they had only been at Houston Hospice for a few minutes, they were already feeling at peace. Mimi seemed to be sleeping deeply and in the greatest comfort.

While I was there, the nurses and aides were remarkably gentle, professional, and accommodating. My friend and her mother were overwhelmed with the calm that these women transferred to them. Every action or word was a gift. I’ve heard great things about our inpatient unit staff, and I have been with my own mother for weeks in ICU and other recovery areas of a hospital setting to witness outstanding, attentive care — but our Houston Hospice nurses and aides take care to a whole new level. Their skill sets include wisdom and patience that I have never observed before. I cannot believe how proactive they are with questions and suggestions to anticipate patient and family needs.  A lot of wonderful people can be responsive, but when support persons are proactive in offering help, the effect is incredible.

My friend, her family, and I were amazed by Sarah, Darlene, Sophia, Ellen, and Kristin on the night shift – and all of the devoted nurses and aides at Houston Hospice.  THANK YOU for truly caring and for giving every patient and family the gentle help they so desperately need. You are shining examples for all of us.

Martha Cambell, Houston Hospice Community Outreach Coordinator

holding hands

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Houston Hospice Nurses: Life Matters And This Is What It’s All About

As I walk the halls of Houston Hospice’s inpatient unit, whispers can be heard coming from multiple patient rooms. Peering into one room, a nurse is seen comforting an elderly man wondering what life might be like when his wife of 54 years will no longer be at his side. Across the hall, a nurse listens as a teenage boy asks her what heaven might be like when he gets there; nervous that he won’t know anyone when he gets there. Continuing down the hall, I see into the room on the left, a nurse is teaching a man’s sister how to administer his medications in preparation for him to go home; something he has been longing for since the day he found out he was ill. In the room up ahead to the right a nurse works diligently at the bedside of her newly-admitted 31 year old patient to get the pain caused by her breast cancer managed as the patient’s parents stand watching with tears streaming down their faces. I continue walking the hall, and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride for my wonderful team of nurses.

Here at Houston Hospice, the inpatient unit nurses provide a full-spectrum of physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual care with the goal of preventing suffering and relieving symptoms to support the best possible quality of care for our patients and their families. As we enter National Nurses Week 2014, I would like to recognize and sincerely thank each and every Houston Hospice inpatient unit nurse as they are leaders in providing uncompromising and compassionate end-of-life care to our patients and families.

“And what nursing has to do … is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” – Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not.

Thank you, nurses, for all you do,

Jessica Rousseaux
Inpatient Unit Patient Care Managerholding hands

 

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