I want to share with you a dream of mine. Because I’ve grown to love Chautauqua County in the last five years since I’ve lived here, and because I believe so very much in the Hospice Concept of Care, I feel the need to share a Dream with each of our Hospice volunteers.
As a home care nurse in 1976 in Utica, NY, I remember standing at the bedside of a dying patient who was crying out, “Why can’t anyone help me?”As the nurse, I felt helpless in being able to intervene in getting his physical symptoms controlled; pain was very severe but the doctor would only order a moderate pain pill. Robert felt abandoned by the doctor who felt no need to see him anymore since his treatment was stopped.
His wife, the only family member and the primary caregiver, needed so much more support, more than I could give her in my limited time and lack of experience with the dying. There was no such thing as a counselor or volunteer who could help Marie with some of the difficult issues. The pastor would come but he was not very skilled in helping someone deal with the often agonizing questions of dying.
At the time Hospice were not in existence. I remember feeling like I had to be a superhuman nurse to try to meet all the needs of this family. That was impossible. I yearned for some “magical” team of people, specialists in the care of dying persons, to exist somewhere to help the many Maries and Roberts of the world.
Then I discovered Hospice; it was like a DREAM come true- nurses and doctors who were specialized in the symptom management of dying patients and who were willing to keep them at home where they most wanted to be. There was a counselor skilled in helping a family deal with the anticipated death or to work with the children. There was a pastor available when the family had none. I discovered the bereavement services which, up until then, had been unheard of in health care.
Then there were wonderful volunteers, trained in being able to minister in such special ways, in such unique ways to these families. All that would have made such a difference to Robert and Marie.
Not only were the people in Utica dreaming, but a handful of folks in Chautauqua County were also dreaming back in the 70’s. Hospice Information and Referral Service fulfilled some of these very special services when they started training volunteers in 1983, then serving families in 1984 when they established the Bereavement Program, and then the Youth Counseling Services.
A DREAM certainly has come true. Hundreds of families have been served by hundreds of volunteers and coordinators either before death or in bereavement. Our volunteers have made a special impact on our communities. The Hospice & Bereavement Coordinators have each had a unique role with families, as well as in educating and informing the community.
We now dream of a full Hospice team of caregivers to be able to help the terminally ill persons in Chautauqua County- people like the many families we have served since 1983. The expertise of specially trained nurses in a certified program helps to ensure pain and symptom control, as well as allowing the patient to stay at home if at all possible. When our says that Hospice is a unique program providing very specialized service to the dying, one that even qualified for insurance coverage, why is it that we, who live in Chautauqua County, don’t have access to that?
This DREAM is finally on the way to becoming true, only months away- just on the horizon. So near and yet so far. We who love our Hospice program as we know it now and are committed to the best quality of care for our families have a vital role in helping this to happen:
1. We can grab HOLD OF THIS DREAM and believe it can make a big difference.
2. We can speak to key county people, healthcare people, neighbors, church & club members: let them of our need for support, even for the needed start-up funds.
3. When our director passes on the special requirements that the state requires of all staff and volunteers, we can consent to these knowing that any health or human service has to have stiff regulations for the protection of all.
4. We can be proud that our new Hospice of Chautauqua County will be a Medicare-certified, NYS- licensed program for the terminally ill and yet will continue to serve patients as we have in the past with our volunteers and coordinators.
WILL YOU DREAM WITH US?