Everyday Compassion - November 2011

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A Publication of Hospice Compassus

Vol. 3 • No. 3

Hope, Dignity, Love...

Giving Thanks to our Dedicated Colleagues and Educating our Communities about Hospice Care

Everyday Compassion


ospice has always reserved a sacred place for remembrance. This may take the deliberate and formal shape of a memorial service;

it might be a simple encouragement to recall a special moment with a loved one; or—like the stories and recollections in Everyday Compassion—it may take some intermediate form. In any case, it is especially fitting at this time of year that we think again about the people, the events, the experiences, and even the animals that have enriched the lives of both the people we serve in hospice and those who do the serving. This issue of Everyday Compassion includes reflections from hospice nurses, aides, chaplains, social workers, volunteer and bereavement coordinators, our office teams, and especially the husbands, daughters, sons, and grandchildren of the patients we have been honored to comfort and support. Their stories help us place our own lives in a measured perspective and remind us how closely we all are connected and how precious and meaningful life is.

We’d love to hear what you think about our Company and our Colleagues. Please contact us on our website at

I hope that you enjoy these vignettes and that they call to mind meaningful memories of your own. I also invite you to share those with the rest of us if you are inspired to do so.

Jim Deal Chief Executive Officer


potpourri The Billie Day Way . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Grateful to Serve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 The Many Blessings of a Volunteer . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

the shared experience Going Above and Beyond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Leola Hardin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Life after Death - Part I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22


hospice life Hope, Dignity, Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

care-team spotlight Making a Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

featured articles


Everyday Compassion is published periodically by Hospice Compassus. Please address any comments or questions to: Editor, Everyday Compassion, Hospice Compassus, 12 Cadillac Drive, Suite 360, Brentwood, TN, 37027.

PUBLISHER: Hospice Compassus EDITOR: Brooke Legnon, Marketing Director ASSISTANT EDITOR: Jan Shaffer, Senior Human Resources Consultant CONTRIBUTORS: Malissa Fields, Reverend Dr. Kristopher T. Halsey, Polly Murphy, Melonie Roberts, Stephanie Price, Joseph C. Honea, Steve DeLong, Lionel Daugherty, Ginger Miller, Mickie Miller, Mary Foxworthy, Deborah Andrews, Lois Atkin, Judy Ermold, Ted Decker Teresa Severs, Paul Petrocci, Debbie Coots, Dawn Jones-Baer, Dorothy Blinzler, Greg Altum CREATIVE: Tallgrass Studios, Inc. Copyright Š 2011 Hospice Compassus. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced in any manner without the prior written consent of Hospice Compassus.

Giving to Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Ms. Mollie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Hope, My Favorite Word . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Thankful for the Thorns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 The Burning Bush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 A Final Goodbye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Rim Country Hospice Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Congratulations! Excellence Award Winner . . . . 21 New Normal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Baby Steps toward Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Are You Going or Not? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Hospice Compassus New Facility . . . . . . Back cover

Ask the Experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back cover



The Billie Day Way


ou may have seen the poster that says, “Everything I need to know about life I learned in kindergarten.” It lists things

like sharing your toys, giving hugs, and many other valuable behaviors taught to us as children, which we tend to forget along the path to becoming adults. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Dad: how he lived; how he died; how hard he tried to leave his mark on this world and set agodlyexampleforhischildren,grandchildren,andgreat-grandchildren. But I found myself going back to the last few weeks of his life, over and over again. That’s when I realized everything I need to know about life I learned while he was dying. So I would like to share with you just a few of the things I learned from my Dad: 1. Make your kids take their medicine, because they will certainly make you take yours when you’re old. 2. Make yourself heard, even if you have to rattle the bed rails. 3. Laugh at absolutely nothing…and absolutely everything. 4. Lose your inhibitions regularly. 5. Love freely and wide open. Just fill the room up with love until it’s gooey and bursting at the seams. 6. Forgive as freely as you love. We don’t get to decide whether or not someone is forgiven—God has that under control and doesn’t need our help. 7. Hold hands with someone you love, just because you can. 8. When you aren’t sure what to do, smile. 9. Give your heart to God and trust Him completely. 10. You will know when it’s your time to go, so don’t let anyone boss you around. I wish I had spent more time as a child listening and less time arguing. I wish I hadn’t been so quick to judge. I wish foresight was 20/20 and hindsight was unnecessary. I wish Dad had never picked up a cigarette. I wish there was a cure for cancer. I hope I can live a life my Dad would be proud of.

– Malissa Fields, Daughter of Billie Day 2 2

Sp ringfie ld, Miss ouri

Grateful to Serve W

hen I get up each weekday morning, I turn the radio to my favorite show—number one of its type in the country. The host shares his gratefulness for being blessed with the opportunity of his own daily radio show; he sees it as a dream come true. As I listen to the host offer supportive words to his listeners, I’m always encouraged by what he says and begin to reflect on my own life and my career path. He tells his audience that whatever challenges they face, they have what it takes to overcome them and reach for their dreams. I feel that I have overcome many of my life challenges, and that I am living out my dream as a chaplain. People often ask me what I do for a living, and I share with them that I am living out my dream of helping people who feel they are hopeless or helpless. I think of the people who have regrets about decisions they’ve made in their lives, and how I have the wonderful opportunity to help them forgive themselves for those decisions and encourage them to move forward and enjoy the time that remains. Patients and families are very appreciative of words of spiritual and emotional comfort offered to them in their time of need. When I come to work each day—in fact, it doesn’t feel like work—I’m glad to be living out the purpose that, I believe, has been placed on my life by God. I am very grateful to be serving with such a wonderful program that celebrates the life and legacy of special people and their families. – Reverend Dr. Kristopher T. Halsey Chaplain Philadelphia, Pennsylvania everyday COMPASSION

The Many Blessings of a Volunteer


s one of the many volunteers for the Baton Rouge, LA, office of Hospice Compassus, my ‘job’ is to spend quality time with hospice patients in the hope that I will lift their spirits and give them some joy and peace in their final days. I can emphatically say that this blesses me as much or more than the patients! There’s one particular lady, Mrs. T, I remember so well. I get teary-eyed just thinking about all the sweet, special moments we shared. When I first met her, I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to say or do to meet her needs. She looked pretty afraid of me, too, come to think of it. As I stood at her bedside, all I could think to do was pray silently. God knew exactly what she needed and what I needed to do to accomplish it. So, that began my heartfelt journey with Mrs. T. Some days were quiet; she would ask

that I not talk but just sit with her. Others were filled with stories, prayers, and laughter. I was blown away by how much it meant to her that I would take time from my day to spend with her, a woman I had never met before. If she only knew how much she was actually doing for me! When you take the time to give yourself to someone who really needs it, God helps you prioritize your own life; and you end up being blessed in the process. If I were asked how to be a good volunteer, I would say that the most important thing you can do is listen. Even when your patient can’t speak words, she is speaking with her facial expressions and body language. Smile at her, hold her hand. Just let her know that you really care and are there to be a comfort. I always try to think, “If I were in this bed, not able to use my arms or legs, what would I want done for me?”

Let me give you a few examples of things that meant a lot to my Mrs. T. One day when I arrived for our visit, I asked how she was feeling. She said, “I’m okay. I just wish I could see the light of day again.” Instantly God gave me the idea to run outside and take pictures of the flowers, trees, and blue skies with my phone so she could see the light of day. I sat with her on the bed looking at the pictures with tears streaming down my face. To see her sweet blue eyes smiling just because she could “see” outside touched my heart. At Christmas time she had a tiny tree in her room, but she couldn’t turn far enough to look at it; again I took a picture so she could see it. A few days before Christmas, I brought the book The Night before Christmas and read it to her. She followed every page with such a bright, attentive look on her face! Almost like a child, she ran her fingers across the pages as I read, pointing at all the candy and toys. I have to believe that in these little moments, she forgot about her pain and was able to experience peace. Of course, some days consisted of nothing more than giving her water or brushing her hair. Being a volunteer doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Just give a little, and God will multiply your time and your blessings. It’s the little, tiny things we take for granted every day that will make the difference in your patient’s day. When in doubt, pray. God will lead you every step of the way. – Polly Murphy, Volunteer Baton Rouge , Louisiana


Hospice care affirms the belief that it is important to make every moment of life as meaningful as possible, from the first days of a life-limiting illness to the last...to validate the quality rather than quantity of life...and to provide care to the patient and family, reflecting a living expression of love, warmth, and compassion. Hospice Compassus provides services to relieve symptoms, manage pain, and give emotional and spiritual support. Hospice Compassus advocates and respects the right of the patient and family to: • Enjoy the best possible quality of life • Experience dignity in their care • Know what to expect Vol. 3 • No. 3

• Have their values and wishes honored • Receive care in their environment of choice • Receive continued support 3

Giving to Others Purdy Floral and Gifts Finds a Way to Give Back

Gary and Judy Davis


single rose can be an expression of true love, passion, or desire; but to the families of Hospice Compassus clients, a single red rose tucked into a bud vase offers comfort, hope, and the knowledge that they are not alone when a loved one dies. “We are active members with Hospice Compassus, and this is our way of helping out,” said Judy Davis, who, along with her husband, Gary, owns Purdy Floral and Gift. “We place a ribbon and a tag that indicates the flower is from everyone at Hospice Compassus and set it next to the guest book at the funeral home.” While it may seem as if a single rose might not stand out among other, more elaborate displays, family members often report to staffers at Hospice Compassus how touched they are to have received the tribute and its simple expression of caring. Since August of 2010, the Davis family has delivered or sent approximately 50 of the single-rose tributes on behalf of Hospice Compassus, free of charge. “Once in a while, a family member

will stop by and say ‘thank you’ and tell us how much it means that Hospice Compassus was thinking of them,” said Judy. “You don’t expect that. They have also told Hospice volunteers how much they appreciate it.” On other occasions, the Davis family has been called to provide floral arrangements for a community member that was also a Hospice client. At those times, they try to get a bit creative to make a lasting memory for the family of the deceased. “We’ve started making memory chairs,” Judy said. “We will take a hat or bonnet that the person wore and place it, along with other personal items that reflect the individual’s personality and s/he liked, on a quilt-draped chair. People really like the memory chairs. They’re catching on, and it’s something that involves the whole community.” The memory chair often serves as a welcoming space at the funeral home for loved ones and friends to gather and reminisce about their loved one, recalling warm memories sparked by the items on display. “People often take the memory chair items home to recreate it in tribute and to honor that person,” Judy said. “The thing about the flower business is that it works all on God’s time,” Judy said. “For example, we had a young woman sitting over at Diamond with her mother, who was dying. Her husband called in an order of flowers to cheer his wife up and asked us to deliver them. When we got to the house, the woman was so surprised and insisted that we take them in to show her mother. “It was a bit of an odd request, but we did it,” she continued. “The mother saw the

flowers and a smile just broke out all over her face. She died about 30 minutes later. “We didn’t find out until later, when the woman called and asked us, ‘How did you know?’ We didn’t. The timing was in God’s hands. We got lost and had trouble finding the house. It was just meant to happen that way.” At times the couple will order more non-traditional flowers into their shop, which is a gamble for a small business specializing in the delivery of a fresh product. “But again, it’s in God’s hands,” Gary added. “We’ll get someone in here and they will see the flowers and say, ‘Oh, Mama would have loved those,’ and it’s exactly what they want. That’s happened several times.” “Generally Hospice flowers are for the funeral,” Judy said. “But every situation is different. Occasionally we will deliver to a family’s home if no services are planned. “When people get a flower or a plant, they look at it and it seems as if their face relaxes and they are at peace,” Judy said. “That’s a good feeling.” The Davises continually accept donations of bud vases for the Hospice Compassus project. “It’s another way people give back to us, and we can give to others,” Judy said. Purdy Floral and Gifts is located at 100 W. Highway C in Purdy, Missouri.

By Melonie Roberts, Reporter; Lisa Schlichtman, Editor. Reprinted with permission from the Monett Times



Ms. Mollie M

s. Mollie is an animal-assisted therapy cat. Animalassisted therapy (AAT) involves taking pets such as cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, and other docile animals to visit those in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities. I’ve been involved with AAT for more than ten years, having adopted docile, friendly cats that made great AAT animals. Before Ms. Mollie came into my life, I’d adopted Mr. Chubbs. He was a laid-back, orange-colored Persian and a retired show cat. Everybody was amazed that he was so gentle, despite being such a large cat. People at nursing homes and hospitals just loved him, and his two favorite residents were Ms. Hare and Ms. Simmons. He’d stretch out next to them in bed so he could be petted, or he’d sit with them in the lobby of the nursing home, watching the visitors—who were very surprised to see him! Mr. Chubbs lived with me for about five years; and when he passed away due to kidney failure, I was devastated. I decided I would not adopt another cat or be involved in AAT again. Then one day about six months after Mr. Chubbs’ death, something told me to get on the Internet and search for a Persian cat.To this day I still don’t know what made me do it. An animal rescue group north of Houston had several Persian cats up for adoption on their Web site, so I went to their adoption site that Saturday and saw three kitties. When I picked up the petite, tortoise-shell Persian cat, she snuggled in my arms and started purring. It was love at first sight, and I immediately adopted her. I learned from the foster parent that Malta was about a year old, and I soon renamed her Ms. Mollie to suit her personality. As I drove back, I wondered how Ms. Mollie would react to the cats at home. I had several foster pets, along with my mother’s cat; and I knew they wouldn’t have a problem, since they were used to foster cats coming and going. I need not have worried—when I brought Ms. Mollie into the house and put her on the floor, she immediately started exploring. When she encountered another cat, she put her nose against his as if to say, “Don’t mess with me.” I was astounded! Usually a cat coming into a new household will hide for several days until she becomes acclimated. I immediately thought she would make a great therapy cat. Vol. 3 • No. 3

About six months after I adopted Ms. Mollie, I decided it was time for her temperament to be tested to see if she would make a good group therapy cat. She passed the test with flying colors! She had no fear of either big or little dogs; they sniffed her or put their noses against her nose, and she just ignored them. We started visiting two nursing homes in the League City area, and the patients loved her. In the group setting we didn’t get much one-on-one time with the patients, so I decided to ask the Hospice Volunteer Coordinator if I could take Ms. Mollie to Mr. Chubbs’ favorite residents. After the paperwork was completed, Ms. Mollie and I began visiting Ms. Hare and Ms. Simmons, who just fell in love with her. Ms. Hare would stare into Ms. Mollie’s big brown eyes, and Ms. Simmons would snuggle with Ms. Mollie in her arms. Both ladies had smiles from ear to ear. They loved the attention they received from the other residents’ visitors when Ms. Mollie visited them, and they enjoyed answering the visitors’ questions. During Christmas holidays, I dressed Ms. Mollie in a scarf and hat. Ms. Hare and Ms. Simmons just loved it, and it generated even more attention! When either of them was not feeling well, I took Ms. Mollie to the resident’s room and put her in the bed. She’d stretch out next to the residents, as if she knew her friend was ailing. Unfortunately, Ms. Hare and Ms. Simmons passed away within a month of each other late last year. Ms. Mollie had been a special friend to them, bringing happiness in their last days. May they rest in peace. – Stephanie Price, Volunteer Le ague City, Te xas 5

Hope, Dignity, Love...

Hospice care is more than just pain relief at home, and it is more than getting help with personal hygiene or the day-to-day chores around the house. Hospice is more than receiving spiritual support, more than a grief group or a community resource. As we celebrate National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, we recognize the many people who serve others with hope, dignity, and love. The appreciation received from families of patients that we help on their final journey makes what we do so very rewarding.

As Good As It Gets To All of You, I hope you will forgive me for only writing this one letter. I’d like to write separately to each of you—in fact, I started to. But for a number of reasons, I decided to write one letter and trust it will somehow reach everyone for whom it is intended. I’ve starting writing this letter several times before, only to quit, disgusted with my inability to assemble words that accurately express my thoughts and sentiments. I’ll write again now and hope I find words that convey to each of you my heartfelt admiration, respect, and gratitude for the help, guidance, insight, comfort, and inspiration you provided my mother and me during the three months immediately preceding her death. Generally, I avoid having views on things I know nothing about—which is almost everything. However, when my mother first learned she had CHF [Chronic Heart Failure] and I first learned we would be dealing with Hospice, I was aflutter with questionable expectations. I knew almost nothing about Hospice. Nevertheless, I expected we would be subjected to the weary wisdom and arrogant, patronizing, pretentious speech of most medical practitioners. Instead I met honest, down-to-earth people possessing calm intelligence; educated, talented souls who believed in each other and in the work they were doing; sincere and compassionate people who did 6

It was as though we were dealing with a well-organized, dedicated group of philosophers and saints who had knowledge of the struggles and doubts we were facing.... not sugar-coat the truth as they knew it. It was as though we were dealing with a well-organized, dedicated group of philosophers and saints who had knowledge of the struggles and doubts we were facing, people who sincerely wanted to help us, who had the skills to do it, and who did, in fact, help us. All of you whom I ever spoke with, whether by telephone or in person, seemed to understand and relate to people. That ability, in my opinion, is a rare gift—not something you learned in any school. Although I had sensed it before, it did not seem to seriously occur to me, so far as I can recall, that my mother would ever be forced to endure a long, painful, difficult transition at the end of her life. Somehow I always thought that when my mother or I passed away—it would be sudden. Of course, that proved not to be the case—at least, not for my mother. She would be one among a vast number of souls to be caught in a sudden flow of irreversible, slow change.

About a month before her death, she told me she felt as though something had actually invaded her body, and it was slowly taking over. She said she was beginning to feel like she no longer had control of her own body, and it was very frightening. She said she didn’t know how to deal with it or how to stop it. She felt helpless in the face of it. I didn’t know what to say to her or how to comfort her. I didn’t want to offer her false hope. I didn’t want to remove all hope. I just told her I was sorry. That seemed such an inadequate thing to say to her. It occurred to me at the time that you at Hospice must find yourselves in similar situations with your patients on a regular basis. I wondered how you deal with it so well, day after day. I still wonder. As I read back over this letter now, it seems my thoughts are fragmented. Nevertheless, I don’t see any lines I want to delete. I don’t think I can organize it any better, so I’m going to send it as it is. To plagiarize an English philosopher, I hope each of you will “Always remain as healthy as mountain air, as happy as love returned, and as bright as the sunlit sea.” Thank you all very much. I hope you will keep up the good work for as long as you have the desire. Respectfully, Joseph C. Honea Son of patient Springfield, Missouri everyday COMPASSION

From Start to Finish...As Perfect as Possible January 8, 2011

To All of You, Realizing that my wife passed away on Monday October 25th, this response may seem a little tardy. What you must realize is that with my loss, the holidays, and operating two businesses in this economy, I wanted to wait until the perfect time to communicate the thoughts that it deserves. First of all, let me qualify myself. Becky is the second wife I lost to cancer. I lost my first wife, Bev, to breast cancer as well. My first wife, an RN with a double Master’s in nursing, was the administrator of the newborn nursery at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. It’s kind of a paradox. She brought people into life, and you see them out of life. In college I was a Sociology Major with a minor in Psychology. My sister is a Professor of Psychology and Dean at the University of California at Cerritos. This should lay some foundation to support my thoughts and experience provided in this letter. With that said, on Thursday evening, October 21st, at University Hospital in Columbia, Becky’s oncologist spoke with me in reference to the results of a PET scan he had just reviewed. He informed me that, unfortunately, the images had confirmed his medical observations and suspicions. The metastasis of Becky’s cancer had finally reached her brain. At that moment, with my confidence in his diagnosis, I resigned myself to at least the mental loss of my loving wife, Becky. As Jack Buck, legendary announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals would say, it was the bottom of the ninth. We were down ten to nothing, and with two away and no one on base, they brought in the best relief pitcher in the league to face us for the final out…. Now all we had to do was face the physical and emotional loss of our loved one. The oncologist explained to me that there would be no more intervention. Hospice was our only answer. At the sound of the word “hospice,” a chill ran up my spine. Scary thoughts raced through my mind. For some reason, all Vol. 3 • No. 3

I could think of was Nurse Ratchett in the classic Jack Nicholson movie, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Would it be some crabby, staunch, jaded nurse, in a perfectly starched white uniform and white stockings? Someone who was three inches taller than me, twice as muscular, and five years past retirement? If I dared to look at her, would I be able to see anything besides the glare of her thirty-year pin in my eyes? Someone in between an NFL line judge and a smalltown Magistrate in night court? Having no prior experience with Hospice, I feared the worst! Well…let me admit I could not have been more wrong! From start to finish, Hospice Compassus was flawless! The fellow who delivered the bed and bedside equipment to our home was there waiting when I arrived home from Columbia. I asked if I could help with all of the equipment, since it was going to our second story and looked heavy and cumbersome. He cheerfully replied, “No, I’ve done this many times before and should have no problem with this one, either.” Thanks to you, later that afternoon Becky arrived home to a comfortable and medically efficient surrounding, perfectly organized and arranged. What a blessing at such a needy time. Hospice was my savior. Next Jessica Clark, the Marketer for our local Hospice, arrived to ensure everything was done correctly thus far. Jessica asked if there were anything else she could do to help us at that time. Naturally, we’d left the hospital with a “laundry list” of meds that needed to be filled at the pharmacy. Jessica immediately said, without hesitation, that she would go at once, in her personal car, and have them filled for us. We were astounded. The very thing that I feared most became a blessing! Our nurse on call was Tiffany Rudolph, RN. The comfort, care, and experience that Tiffany provided in the next

four days was beyond exemplary. Tiffany’s knowledge and evident experience was profound. Her bedside manner was perfect and she blended well with our family, as if she’d been with us for the entire five-year fight. We couldn’t have drawn a better person if we’d won the lottery. I personally felt much more confident with Tiffany’s judgment and medical skills than with half the physicians that Becky had to face in her 5-year battle with cancer. Short story, she knows her job and does it well. Death is not always dignified. Tiffany did everything she could to make Becky’s passing just as dignified as possible. I will always remember that with the utmost appreciation. Tiffany is certainly an admirable and invaluable asset to the staff at Hospice Compassus. You must be proud to have her in your employment. In closing, on Monday morning, Becky’s final day with us on Earth, Tiffany arrived at our door. We jokingly remarked, “We thought you were off today.” Tiffany said, “Yes, I am; but I realized Becky’s condition and didn’t want you to go through a change of staff at such a crucial time.” That evening at 7:17 pm, Tiffany pronounced my wife Becky dead. Being Catholic, we approached two local priests to officiate at the service; neither could do it. One even asked how much we would be willing to pay! Again we relied on Hospice. Jeremy did a great job, and we had many positive comments on his service. For us, sadly, it was over. For Hospice Compassus it is just the beginning. The beginning of an opportunity to provide the same great service with your commendable staff to many, many others, like ourselves, in need. Please do not hesitate to use me and my experience as your finest reference in the future. And, thank you for everything you have done for us. You made a horrible conclusion as perfect as possible. Thank you! Steve DeLong Husband of patient Osage Beach, Missouri 7

Serving with Heartfelt Compassion July 13, 2011

Dear Compassus Family, It has now been one month since the passing of Geraldine G. Holt, my mother and your patient. It has not been an easy 30 days. What has been easy is to reflect back on the care that was offered by your staff during her last days. It was very rewarding to me that she was able to stay in my home, thanks to Hospice Compassus. I brought Mother home from the hospital on Friday evening, May 27th, Memorial Day weekend. Within minutes of getting home, Hospice Nurse Debbie Martin appeared. Pleasantly she explained the role of Hospice. She took her time with Mother, answering all our questions and treating Mother with a great deal of respect. I spoke with Nurse Debbie several times over the weekend as we were adjusting to some new medications. I could not have been more pleased; and personally, my stress level was lowered with the availability to visit with Nurse Debbie concerning Mother. Thank you, Debbie, for the wonderful job you did caring for our loved one. Reah, Reah, Reah, how could we be so fortunate to get someone with a healthy laugh, a great smile, and a deep sense of caring. She was just awesome as she cared for Mother several times in those last two weeks. She was like a Godanswered prayer; when we needed her, she was moments away. Reah answered tough questions up front, with respect and honestly. She kept us informed about Mother’s condition at all times. It was very obvious that she was dedicated to helping the sick and elderly. There is no question she knows her business. Thank you, Reah—you have a very special caring talent. Van Williams, hee hee hee, God works in mysterious ways, Deuteronomy 29:29. What a great blessing this kind man was. He stepped into our lives at a most important time, bringing comfort and peace to my mother. He was able to have


special talks with a woman who generally was a very private person. He expressed a great deal of compassion, concern, and Christian love toward my mother. I remember just a day or so before she died, I was having a difficult time with her. She had fallen and was not doing very well when, unexpectedly, the door bell rang. I answered it and there stood Van—what a timely appearance. I could have kissed him if he wasn’t so ugly! He is certainly an asset to the sick in the communities of south-central Missouri as he explains the power of faith and the love of God through Hospice. His prayers with Mother will always be remembered. What a blessing he was to her and still is to me today. Van represents Hospice well. Thank you, Ms. Dannette, for coming to my home and explaining all the options, benefits, and programs available to my mother through Hospice. We had no idea of all the support and benefits that were out there for the sick. You did good. On Saturday, June 11, mother passed away. It was very early in the morning, around 2:25 a.m. My daughter, Casey, and I were with her, holding her hands, stroking her hair, and telling her how much we loved her. It was a very peaceful moment and one we will cherish for the balance of our lives. Shortly thereafter I called Hospice and got Nurse Rachelle, whose response was remarkable. It was just a matter of minutes and she was here. Mother was 87 and her body had gone through a lot of stress in the last few weeks as she fought the dreaded disease. Nurse Rachelle came into our home and absolutely made my mother look wonderful. She bathed her, dressed her, combed her hair, and made her look so presentable. Casey and I were so happy and proud to look at our beautiful grandmother/mother when Rachelle had finished applying her skills. Thank you so much, Ms. Rachelle; Mother looked

perfect. Thanks for comforting us and also for taking care of the medication. But it does not stop there. A few days after Mother’s death, I was contacted by phone by Ms. Judy Frederick, your Bereavement Coordinator. She was very nice to me and explained that Hospice was there to help our family during this difficult time. She then followed the conversation up with a letter further explaining the support system that is in place and available to us. We appreciate this program. I now understand why over the years I have heard great comments and stories about Hospice. The world is a better place because of people who have hearts like Debbie, Reah, Cari, Rachelle, Dannette, Judy, and Van—people who come into your life at a most stressful time and care for your loved one and do so because they have a deep desire and passion to serve others. You helped us feel at ease with Mother at home, yet gave us the reassurance that she was getting the proper care and treatment she deserved at this critical time. My mother was treated with the utmost dignity and kindness by compassionate people. To those with Hospice, you were a success in helping our family during this difficult time, and we could not be more pleased. From our perspective, you can be very proud of your efforts. Your dictum… “Serving with Heartfelt Compassion” is so accurate. I close by saying thank you and God bless each and every one of you as you sacrifice to help others. Sincerely, Lionel Daugherty Son of patient Mountain Grove, Missouri And my daughters, Caron Daugherty Mitchell and Casey Daugherty


Dignity and Affection July 23, 2011

My Dear Compassus Family, I am writing to you today with praise and appreciation for your organization and,in particular, two individuals who recently cared for my grandmother, Ida Ferguson. The services that Hospice Compassus provided were invaluable to my family as we found it increasingly difficult to care for my grandmother without assistance over these past few months. We would have had to resort to placing my grandmother in a nursing home had Hospice Compassus not come into our lives. While the medical guidance and prescription decisions were helpful, it was the care and attention provided by two people with Hospice Compassus that made a difference in my grandmother’s final days. Margaret Kennerson is an angel – plain and simple. Margaret cared from my grandmother’s physical needs; but more importantly, she connected with her emotionally. Margaret’s visits were never short and perfunctory – instead they were filled with sweet comments, genuine concern, and affection. Also, Margaret connected with my grandfather and often praised him for his “nursing” methods – words that went a long way toward making him smile. We all trusted Margaret; and near the end of my grandmother’s life, we knew that Margaret’s decisions were centered around making my grandmother comfortable. Margaret was fantastic. Lisa Stephens also cared for my grandmother these past several months. Lisa took what we anticipated as being an awkward situation – bathing my grandmother – and made it something that was dignified. She always took extra time with my grandmother, whether it was combing her hair, adjusting her pillows, or just talking with her. Lisa was an amazing balance of things in that she was efficient without rushing my grandmother and she was knowledgeable without being overbearing. Lisa made grandmother laugh, and they connected every time she cared for her. Both Margaret and Lisa should be praised for their work, their dedication, and their compassion. They both showed up the day my grandmother passed away – even though their “work” was done, neither of them just walked away. Margaret visited with us and comforted us with sweet words. Lisa comforted us as well and even combed my grandmother’s hair and cleaned her face – a sweet, simple act that showed a tremendous amount of respect for my grandmother and my family – it was extremely touching. My grandfather, mother, and I can’t imagine what we would have done without these two individuals. Please pass along our gratitude to Margaret and Lisa, and please recognize them for their outstanding work. God bless everyone with Hospice Compassus – thank you for your work.

Watching each of you in action with your own unique talent and ability was most impressive! Every person of the Compassus team played a very important part contributing to the whole.

Ministering Angels May 3, 2011

My Dear Compassus Family,

All the best,

I want to tell you what a comfort ALL of you have been to me. Your constant attention to me and my father made the difference in my ability to cope with this natural, but very strange and unsettling part of life that we know as death. Watching each of you in action with your own unique talent and ability was most impressive! Every person of the Compassus team played a very important part contributing to the whole. I needed each and every one of you, and it seemed you appeared at the perfect moment to meet that need. I have a distinct visual of each one of you as ministering angels to my father and to me, coming in the room one by one. Being alone (without family) was softened tremendously by your obvious caring. You stood in proxy as my family, and what a beautiful family you are. I do know that my father’s spirit no longer inhabits his earthly body. I know he is in heaven with Jesus and all who have gone before. My joy is that he is no longer in pain. I also know that one day I will make that journey as he did…as we all will. My earnest prayer is that you and I will be surrounded by loving, compassionate, understanding people that share the same desire to comfort and assist in our own journeys. You each have a God-given gift. Thank you for sharing your gift with all people who desperately need a part of that gift. I am grateful that you shared your gift with me. May God bless you as you courageously move forward in your new adventure called Compassus.

Ginger Miller and Mickie Miller Granddaughter and husband of patient Lafayette, Louisiana

Mary Foxworthy Daughter of patient Austin, Texas

Vol. 3 • No. 3


Hope, My Favorite Word


will never forget the discovery made by the widower attending my support group for the

third time: “Ah-Ha! I get it now—I don’t have to forget my wife, and I can live with this.” Hearing this comment brought to mind the first grief support group I attended as a co-facilitator in training. I was questioning my abilities and thought, “How can I help these people who are expressing such pain and depth of loss?” By Deborah Andrews Bereavement Coordinator– Springfield, Missouri



I had worked as a social worker for Child Protective Services

say to the bereaved, “As you do your grief work, you will be

and Day Care Licensing for the State of Texas, as well as

transformed as you hold on to your hope.”

non-profit organizations; and this small group of people had

The bereavement services we offer at Hospice Compassus

me speechless. After the first session, I didn’t know if I could

meet the varied needs of those who have lost loved ones. This

continue for five more weeks, listening to the depth of their

“menu” allows for social interaction, group support, public ritual,

grief; but I honored my commitment and joined the group every

private reading, meditation, and the opportunity to explore

session. I had my own “Ah-Ha!” moment when Week Six rolled

memorials and meaningful personal rituals. The menu includes:

around and I witnessed a change in the participants. Words were being shared that expressed relief, understanding, coping, and compassion. I knew then that I could do this, because I was filled with hope and saw hope in all the faces of the group. When I began working as the Bereavement Coordinator and Grief Camp Manager in Texas, I knew I had found my “spot.” Moving

H “Life after Loss” Grief Support Groups H Bereavement Gift Bags H Sunshine Lunch H Bereavement Volunteers H Memorial Services

to Springfield, Missouri, almost three years ago provided me the

H Grief Education Booklets

opportunity to work again in bereavement.

H Individual Grief Counseling

Hope. I share this word, this expectation, this desire with my grief groups and in counseling as a type of “life preserver” for them to hold in the dark days ahead. Hope: the pain will ease. Hope: I will find joy again. Hope: I will discern my purpose in life. Hope: I will not always feel lonely and afraid. I can honestly

H Bereavement Newsletter H “Handling the Holidays” Workshop H Porcelain Heart Ornament Our five Bereavement Volunteers, nicknamed “The Bag Ladies,” are critical to our program. They assist by making calls; making home visits; and delivering Bereavement Bags with cookies, coffee, tea bags, and a bereavement newsletter. We meet with the bereaved during Sunshine Lunches at a local restaurant for a meal together, hear stories, and share tears and laughter. The Volunteers and Colleagues helping with bereavement reaffirm my hope every day as we witness the “Ah-Ha!” moments of the bereaved we serve. From left to right: Jeannie Rimmer, Connie Kelley, Sherry Sharon, Jo Wiggins, Deborah Peiffer.

BEREAVEMENT C ARE PROGRAM Hospice Compassus continues to support the family with counseling services for up to 13 months following the death of a loved one. Through phone calls, home visits, and/or letters, we provide words of encouragement, supportive listening, and a continual reminder that we are available for honest conversation about the journey through grief. By offering a comprehensive Bereavement Care program, we extend a hand of support and understanding that is tailored to the needs of each individual family member.

Vol. 3 • No. 3


Thankful for S

andra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she craved, called saying she couldn’t come. What’s worse, Sandra’s best friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra. “Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered. “For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life but took the life of my unborn child?” “Good afternoon, can I help you?” The shop clerk’s approach startled her. “I ... I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra. “For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” asked the clerk. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” Sandra regretted her outburst and was surprised when the woman said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi, Barbara ... let me get your order.” She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except 12


the Thorns the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped. There were no flowers! “Want this in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. “Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest. “Uh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uh ... she just left with no flowers!” “Right, said the clerk, “I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” “Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!” exclaimed Sandra. “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.” “That same year I lost my husband,” continued the clerk,” and for the first time in my life, I’d just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.” “So what did you do?” asked Sandra. “I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never asked Him why those good things happened to me; but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of Vol. 3 • No. 3

life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.” Just then someone else walked in the shop. “Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man. “My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement ... twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator. “Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind my asking why she wants something that looks like that?” “No ... I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess; but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here,” and he nodded at the clerk, “told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from ‘thorny’ times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific ‘problem’ and give thanks for what that problem taught us.” As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!” “I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life.” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too ... fresh.” “Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that

thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.” Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I…I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out. “I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.” “Thank you. What do I owe you?” “Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.” It read:

“My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; Teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain; Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Praise Him for your roses, thank Him for your thorns. When the going gets tough, the tough seek the Lord! 13

Going Above and Beyond The tremendous support following the EF5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri By Teresa Severs

Volunteer Coordinator - Joplin, Missouri




unday May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, having little mercy for what was in its path. A reported 8,000 structures were damaged or destroyed, leaving the city looking much like a war zone. Downed power lines, uprooted trees, debris, and rubble filled the streets. A car, so compactly wrapped around a stop sign, was unrecognizable except for the visible license plate. Men, women, and children were stripped of all personal belongings; and some homes were completely wiped out. Many were injured and needed medical attention, and one hospital in the tornado’s path was moved off its foundation, requiring immediate evacuation. (Continued on next page.)

Vol. 3 • No. 32


Many patients were taken to other area hospitals, while damage to several long-term care facilities resulted in displaced residents’ being transported to remaining unaffected area facilities. Area hospitals and nursing facilities became overcrowded in what seemed an instant. Triage centers and shelters were established as emergency medical services hit the streets and began the process of assessing damage and prioritizing needs. City police cars, county sheriffs, and utility trucks soon appeared; and the streets of Joplin quickly became congested with relief workers as well as volunteers who came to help those in immediate need. During the first hours following the twister, several Colleagues from the Joplin Hospice Compassus office volunteered to assist. Joplin nurse Teresa Van Gilder and Chaplain Danny Mullins both raced to our office to retrieve supplies needed at the triage center. Nurse Kim Bremer and I got to a triage center and began assessing needs and bandaging wounds of the storm’s victims. I will never forget the extent of damage, both physical and emotional, that I saw that day. We were there in the moment, doing what we could, completely unaware of what things were going to look like in the light of the following day. Much later that night, after other relief workers arrived, Kim and I made it

to my home and literally collapsed from exhaustion. I awoke the next morning with a sense of urgency to get to the office. Because of extensive damages, power outages, and debris, I knew getting there would take some creativity. My usual route would be impossible, as it goes directly through the center of the devastated streets, which were blocked. Traveling the city’s outer loop, I made my way to the office to find that, with the exception of a few trees down and no phones or power, the office was unscathed. Much to my relief, within minutes the rest of the team began to arrive. Soon we were able to determine that everyone was safe and accounted for. Several had received some damage to their homes, but most of that damage was minor. The rest of that day was spent trying to figure out what we could do to help our patients, their families, and our community partners, who suffered extensively. It was terrifying to watch more stormy weather come through, as though we hadn’t had enough. We took turns traveling in pairs, venturing out into the wrecked city. It was impossible to drive the streets of Joplin without feeling the pain each soul had endured from the EF5 tornado. Tears flowed as we viewed the devastation while also reliving the activities that occurred at the triage center. Then electric and phone service

Leola Hardin L

By Teresa Severs

Volunteer Coordinator - Joplin, Missouri


ast month we had to say goodbye to another of Joplin’s great volunteers. Leola Hardin lived with her son, Thomas, in the house on Montana Place where she’d raised her three children. On the evening of May 22nd, Leola was home alone while Thomas was at work. After the devastating EF5 tornado swept through town, Leola was found by one of their neighbors. She had a fractured left knee and broken left arm, and her jaw was broken in four places. She was taken to Freeman Hospital, where

were restored, and suddenly there was a new level of energy. We could get out and check on the safety of our patients. Most had not been affected by the storm; however, two of our area facilities were destroyed, as they were in the direct path of the tornado. Tragically, several patients and staff died. In the chaos that followed, the surviving patients were displaced and moved to any area facility with a vacant bed. Very few of the surviving residents had any identification, which made it extremely difficult to assess medical needs. During the morning meeting of Day Two, our team put a plan into place to best utilize our resources and reach the families we could, ensuring immediate

she would be a patient for the next sixteen days. Leola regained consciousness and was able to communicate; but six days after the tornado, her family was told she had a fungus in a head wound. On June 8th she passed away. It makes me tremendously sad when we lose a volunteer, and my heart grieves because I lost a friend. I would rather remember Leola not as she was after the tornado, but rather as the little lady who would walk into my office on her cane, carrying huge bags of her crocheted afghans to give our patients. Leola Hardin was an exceptional volunteer. When everyday COMPASSION

Top left: Donated supplies are gathered together at the Hospice Compassus office in Joplin. Top right: St. John’s Hospital’s temporary home in a local parking lot.

needs were met and supplies delivered. We knew this would be a challenge with the traffic coming into Joplin, but this team was up to the test. I don’t remember the exact timeline, but sometime that first Monday Janet Gard, our Executive Director, arrived with a care package of food for the staff. As team members stopped by the office for whatever supplies they needed, they were able to throw together a sandwich, grab a bag of chips and a soda, and get back out to our patients and our community. It not only gave them nourishment in a busy day, but it showed them they were being cared for while caring for others. Janet made sure that, each day and in the weeks

that followed, the team’s needs were addressed. She stayed in our area and relayed our needs and the community’s to the other Hospice Compassus offices, who were offering assistance. So many in the Hospice Compassus family generously donated much-needed items and funds to our Colleagues as well as the community! Janet stuck with our team, supporting us mentally, emotionally, and physically. Some may say that’s her job, but Janet manages four offices within a radius of more than 100 miles. She went above and beyond for the Joplin team during this crisis. In the same vein, Hospice Compassus volunteer Cara Blair wanted to help, and

she went through volunteer training in January 2009, she told me she just wanted to contribute in some way to terminally ill patients. She explained that she was unable to visit patients in their homes or nursing homes due to her own physical limitations. However, she loved to crochet and asked if I thought any of our patients could use a lap blanket. For the next two years, Leola would spend her time doing what she loved…crocheting. Many Hospice patients have benefited from Leola’s gift and her desire to give to others. At this year’sVolunteer Appreciation banquet, Leola was recognized for 269

hours this past year and 561.25 hours since 2009. After the banquet, one of the volunteers who had been somewhat inactive was so moved by the little lady who could only sit in her chair and crochet to help others that she made a commitment to do more in the future as a Hospice volunteer. Even after Leola’s death, her legacy continues.

Vol. 3 • No. 3

in no time she was in the office asking for a list of chores. We gave her a list of immediate necessities; and, like the storm that had ripped through our community, she became a whirlwind of force that attacked the list and much more. Cara made commercial contacts, asking for community donations as she saw the need. Sunscreen, lip balm, visors, and water were provided to volunteers working in the hot weather, and she also collected personal care items for tornado victims. Supplies were donated from Rubbermaid and Family Pharmacy. Additionally, Cara organized volunteers to assist nursing facilities with the overflow of patients. Some volunteers simply sat with residents in the crowded halls, easing their discomfort of being in unfamiliar surroundings. The magnitude of this natural disaster left many grieving for lost loved ones. Cara organized a bereavement team ready to talk to anyone at any time. She also served on the bereavement team and helped several tornado survivors through their grieving process. Her services were invaluable and appreciated. It is difficult to name all the folks within Hospice Compassus who went above and beyond during those first few days and weeks. Jim Deal, Stan Brown, and Renee Bradford (our senior leadership) (Continued on next page.)


were all so supportive, so generous and kind. You will never know how much that was appreciated. Our sister Hospice Compassus Programs from all over the United States were an incredible support. Thank you to our Colleagues for the many donations that you packaged up and sent to our offices. In the first few days you sent the essentials like toiletries, hats, sunscreen, lip balm, blankets, hairbrushes, and combs. Those were so important, and we cannot thank you enough. Now that much of the debris is cleared and I have reverted back to my original route to and from work, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the clean-up crews clear debris and work furiously to bring some normalcy to our city. At 20th and Connecticut I’ve been watching as the debris from an apartment complex, Olympic Gym, and professional office

Joplin High School after the tornado struck.

building has disappeared little by little, piece by piece, until it was gone. Last week I cried new tears as I noticed that in those same bare areas, wooden frames are beginning to appear, representing what is to come. We will recover and we will be strong again. We will never forget what we lost; but without the

many generous donations and volunteer hours contributed to this community, we would not be where we are today as the rebuilding of Joplin begins. I would like to salute my Colleagues at the Joplin Hospice Compassus office for their dedication and resilience. You are all indeed heroes.

The Burning Bush W

By Paul Petrocci e have probably all heard the story of attendant. Karen started to move the woman to Moses and the burning bush. Moses Sr. Vice President of Operations the aisle so she could lay her flat and perform Arizona is walking around on the mountain and sees a CPR. Noticing this, Nina Clapson came to help her, burning bush. As he approaches, a voice calls and together they began CPR.The flight attendant to him: “Moses, I need you to do something for your people.” asked the passengers if there were any medical personnel on the The voice proceeds to tell Moses what he needs to do. Moses plane. Fortunately, an emergency room physician and an EMT replies, “Sorry, not me. You have the wrong guy. I can’t possibly came to assist Nina and Karen. After multiple attempts with a do it.” Yet as the story goes, he does just that. defibrillator, the patient regained her pulse and was monitored It isn’t often that we come across a burning bush in our during the rest of the flight. The team had stabilized the woman, daily endeavors. But think back to that time when you stepped and the plane was able to continue on its course rather than outside your comfort zone to help someone, to do what you diverting to another airport. thought you would never be able to do. We find examples in The most striking observation Nina and Karen made was that news stories, movie plots, and real-life situations. Two of our during all of this, the passengers remained calm and focused. Arizona Executive Directors experienced that moment when I believe the way the two Directors reacted to the situation they encountered their own burning bush. with such calm and composure gave the other passengers the Following a national Executive Director meeting in Brentwood, confidence that all was under control, as well as reassuring TN, Karen Frank of Casa Grande and Nina Clapson of Lakeside the daughter. The physician commended Karen and Nina for were relaxing for the long flight home. Karen was sitting next their skill and composure while working in such tight quarters, to an elderly woman and her daughter, and she noticed that and they both had a sense of tremendous support from their what at first had looked like a sleeping woman was beginning to fellow travelers. look more serious. The daughter was asking her mom, “Are you Karen and Nina stayed with the woman and her daughter alright?” Karen’s assessment skills kicked in and, not wanting to until the ambulance arrived and transported her to a facility for alarm the daughter, Karen inconspicuously checked the mother’s further observation. Both downplayed their role, feeling they wrist for a pulse. Concerned that she wasn’t registering anything, hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. But yes, they had. They she tried the carotid artery. It was then that she told the daughter encountered a burning bush that day, responded to the moment, they needed assistance and instructed her to ring for the flight and saved a life. 18


care-team spotlight

Making a Difference Medical Director Receives Hospice and Palliative Medicine Certification


r. Sara Bohn, DO, practices full time with the Jefferson City Medical Group and serves as the Medical Director for Hospice Compassus in Jefferson City, MO. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and recently obtained her certification in hospice and palliative medicine. This recognition requires passing a comprehensive examination that measures mastery of knowledge and clinical judgment, and the exam must be repeated every 10 years. There are currently 78,877 board-certified family medicine physicians in the United States, and Dr. Bohn is one of only 832 of them to be awarded a Certificate of Added Qualification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Sara grew up in various parts of Missouri; her family moved several times within the state during her By Debbie Coots Program Assistant childhood, staying no longer than 5 years in one Jefferson City/Osage place. She says she always knew she wanted to be Beach, Missouri a physician and told her family that from a very early age. “There just wasn’t anything else I really ever wanted to do,” she declares. After receiving both a tuition-covered offer from Nebraska for a PhD. in Chemical Engineering and an offer to attend medical school where she would be responsible for tuition, choosing to be a physician was a difficult decision for Sara to make. She wondered if she could give the chemical engineering package to her friend. She remembered, “That really sealed the deal for me, when I thought about giving away the opportunity to further my education and be paid to do so.” Sara has been a Medical Director with Hospice Compassus for several years. She said she chose Hospice Compassus because she had always liked our hospice, seeing us as very stable and totally dedicated to doing the right thing for our patients and the community. She was very happy to become part of a team that reflects her values. Vol. 3 • No. 3

“There just wasn’t anything else I really ever wanted to do.” “I have always liked the geriatric population,” said Sara. She encourages all her patients, including those in hospice, to be active in their healthcare by making good choices, and her goal is to ensure her patients have the information they need to make informed decisions. “Knowledge is something that can’t be taken away.” She considers her role to be that of an educator, instructing her patients on their disease processes and how to best care for themselves, even those who are not facing an illness. Beyond that, it’s all about encouraging patients to understand their options and make the right choices. When it comes to the new regulations on physicians’ increased involvement in patients’ hospice care through face-to-face evaluations, Dr. Bohn’s commitment to education and her beliefs are clear. She smiles and says, “I think these new regulations are great! I like seeing patients and talking to them about their health and wishes. Some patients haven’t seen a physician in a long time. It gives me the opportunity to not only assess them but also to educate them about the hospice plan of care.” Sara and her husband live in California, Missouri, with their two daughters. They enjoy traveling whenever they have the opportunity. 19

A Final Goodbye Rim Country Hospice Foundation Grants Patient’s Final Wish By Lois Atkin

Social Worker Payson, Arizona


ew Goodwin of Tonto Basin suffers a terminal illness and is a patient of Hospice Compassus in Payson. Lew is so grateful to the Rim Country Hospice Foundation for granting his final wish that he asked to share this wonderful story and let the community know what great work the Foundation does. Lew’s special request was to visit his two sisters in his hometown of Elmira, New York, and say his last goodbyes. Lew has lost two wives due to terminal illnesses and had exhausted his funds providing for their care. Unfortunately, that left nothing left to pay his travel expenses to visit his sisters. Lew approached his Hospice Compassus Social Worker, Lois Atkin, for help, and she submitted a

request to the Rim Country Hospice Foundation. With assistance from Patty Kaufman, Foundation Liaison, the Foundation graciously provided the funds to fly Lew and his caregiver to New York. Lew was elated with the great news and contacted his sisters to share the good fortune. He was able to visit them and many other family members, and he said he had the best time of his life. He was also very grateful to have the opportunity to visit the gravesites of his parents, brother, and son. Lew is well-known in Tonto Basin for the many kindnesses he has provided to fellow residents down on their luck, as well as his donations to the Tonto Basin Fire Department and the Kiwanis Club. Lew raised turkeys and pigs on his ranch for many years. With a processing facility on his property, he was able to provide meat to his

Rim Country Hospice Foundation


he Rim Country Hospice Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization. The Board of Directors is comprised of communitybased volunteers who give generously of their time to serve as community resources and raise funds through a variety of fund-raising efforts. The goal of the Rim Country Hospice Foundation is to support the Hospice philosophy of care, comfort, and dignity for terminally ill individuals and their families by providing financial assistance not available elsewhere. They are especially committed to assisting with costs incurred by non-funded or underfunded patients. Additionally, they help fulfill special wishes that will enhance the quality of life of those who are served. The Rim Country Hospice Foundation is funded solely through the generosity of the community. Since fundraising began, the Rim Country Hospice 20

Foundation has constructed the Hospice House located at 511 S. Mud Springs Road, providing a comforting environment. They have been able to provide the transportation of families for last visits and have assisted with funeral expenses for those less fortunate than ourselves. They have provided Hospice home services for those unable to pay and granted countless other special wishes, thanks to the community’s help. Funds received have been donated by memorial contributions, estate planning and gifts, living trusts, and individual and corporate donations.

Hospice Compassus Social Worker Lois Atkin is extremely grateful to the Foundation for granting many requests over the years, providing patients and their families much-needed relief from financial burdens. The Foundation’s financial intervention helps free the patients and their families from constant worry and anxiety, and it allows them the opportunity to focus solely on the care of the patient and the final journey they all must face. Ms. Atkin says the following are just a small portion of funds that the Foundation has provided to patients over the years. The Foundation paid for the purchase of a new pellet stove and pellets in order that an elderly patient with a monthly income of only $500.00 finally had an affordable heat source. everyday COMPASSION

fellow residents and donate to the Fire Department and Kiwanis Club for charity events. Lew is also credited with “hero status” for his many rescues of people caught in the flooded waters of Tonto Creek. He told of pulling hundreds of vehicles across the creek over the years, and how very glad he was to see the relief on the terrified faces of those who were stranded. Lew turned 79 on his birthday in June and was able to celebrate with his family and enjoy the company of his loved ones. He is a remarkable man who has faced his illness with courage and says that he has been blessed with a wonderful life, is prepared to die, and is so very grateful to have his final wish granted. Lew would also like to thank Hospice Compassus, especially his Home Care team of nurses, Caroline Yost and Judy Intrieri, Social Worker Lois Atkin, and Chaplain Charles Wilcox for their special care, kindness, and compassion as he faces his final journey.

Left to right: Dana Mastropieri, Director of Talent Acquisition and Compensation; Pam Tribby, Director of Colleague Relations; Angela Parker, Recruiter; Renée Bradford, SVP HR/OD; Jan Shaffer, Senior HR Consultant; and Michele Hinton, Recruiter.

C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S ! Hospice Compassus Is 2011 HR Excellence Award Winner

H The Foundation paid for the expenses of a patient who lost his home in the Tonto Creek flood. They paid to move the patient to a hotel while another mobile home was located and then paid for the move-in expenses to his new home. The Foundation has paid for many patients’ telephone and utility bills when they had no other funding. Patients must have these services to sustain their lives– for example, patients who are oxygendependent must have electricity. Ms. Atkin states that patients and families are so very grateful and appreciative to the Foundation for the many services they have received. Through their generosity and kindness they have lessened the burdens so that the patient’s quality of life is enhanced and the family’s attention is solely devoted to the care and comfort of their loved one at this very difficult time. Vol. 3 • No. 3


ospice Compassus won the 2011 Facet of Excellence Award in HR Strategy, given by the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. To administer the process for this prestigious award, a team of experienced local examiners—HR professionals and university professors— received training based on the Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Award. The judging is based on the examiners’ independent evaluation and scoring of an extensive application, a team evaluation of the application, an on-site visit, and a team consensus final scoring. The on-site visit in Brentwood required the examiners to meet with several different groups: senior leaders, the Human Resources team, and a group of Colleagues. For the last meeting, about 20 Colleagues participated, including several in person at the Home Office and the rest by phone from across the country. The HR team wants to express their appreciation to everyone who was involved, especially Jackie Starnes, Director of Internal Audit, who facilitated the group. In her acceptance speech, Renée Bradford, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development, referred to the HR team’s desire for continuous improvement as the main motivator for the Award application. She pointed out that the Award clearly links with Hospice Compassus’ core values of Compassion, Integrity, and Excellence; and she recognized her HR team and their strategic partners—Cowan Benefit Services, The Work Institute, and Art Smith of AG Smith & Associates. 21

Life after Death ~



Helping Those on the Path to Personal Wellness

By Judy Ermold – Springfield, Missouri




the shared experience


hen Raymond McCallister passed away in late 2002, he and Jessie had been married 56 years. “I couldn’t imagine life without Raymond,” Jessie told me as we sipped coffee at her kitchen table. “He was the love of my life.” With assistance from Hospice Compassus, Jessie was able to care for her husband/ best friend at home during his debilitating illness. “After Raymond died, I felt lost,” Jessie said. “I cried every day. The tears wouldn’t stop flowing.” Today, however, Jessie has adjusted to her new life, which continues to emerge and change. “I still keep pictures of Raymond all over the house, and he is in my thoughts every day,” she said. “I think about the good times we had together; I cherish those memories.” And how have Jessie and the many other “survivors” learned to manage their grief and get on with their lives? Most of them will tell you that the path to personal wellness can be rough. Jessie attributes her “recovery” to the support of her family, friends, and the Hospice Compassus staff who were devoted to helping Raymond. And over the years, Jessie’s daughter and son-in-law, Cynthia and Dick Smillie, plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren, have encouraged her by maintaining family traditions. “We have carried on family celebrations as we did when Raymond was alive, just as he would want us to do.” As the McCallisters’ Hospice Volunteer, I spent hours chatting with Raymond while Jessie shopped for groceries and ran errands. He enjoyed talking about a variety of topics, especially about the woman he married. As Raymond

prepared himself for his personal end-of-life experience, he also worried about issues Jessie would face. His brow furrowed and his voice thinned as he told me Jessie was working too hard taking care of him, in addition to tending the house, the yard, and the couple’s large garden. He yearned for the ability to get up and work side by side with her, as he always had before he became ill. Sensitive to his feelings, Jessie had reminded him, “You would do the same for me.” And that was that. Period. End of conversation. “One thing Raymond strongly advised me to do was to sell our house and downsize to a smaller place that would be easier to maintain,” Jessie recalled. “I didn’t even want to talk about or think about the subject then.” But Jessie did consider her husband’s suggestion later, when she was alone in a house that demanded too much time and energy. Coincidentally, when she found a smaller home to purchase, a potential buyer, intent on relocating to Jessie’s neighborhood, was eager to immediately sign a contract on the McCallister house. After snugly settling into her tidy patio home with her “spoiled brat” (and much loved) parrotlet Herbie, Jessie found that activity helped her cope with the losses she’d suffered. She has transformed her small yard into a miniature park, lush with flowers, greenery, and a few vegetables. In addition to exercising her green thumb, Jessie walks and takes classes at a local fitness center. She relaxes to books, (Continued on next page.)

Top: Moments like this with Raymond are among the memories that Jessie McCallister cherishes. Middle: When Jessie Muse was 17, she married handsome, 24-year-old Raymond McCallister. Bottom: Jessie McCallister dotes on Herbie, her colorful parrotlet who loves to chat and cuddle.

Vol. 3 • No. 3


Ingrid Morris struggled to accept her husband Jack’s death. A renewed focus on her family, work, and community service has helped her adapt to change.

Ingrid and Jack Morris planned a delightful dinner party to celebrate her father’s 85th birthday.

music, movies, and massages, and she frequently bakes delectable desserts for her family and friends. Jessie has also been working to overcome a type of cancer that has weakened her body, but not her spirit. Her plan for the future is simple: to lead the best life she can and to enjoy it fully.

lll Like Jessie, Ingrid Morris called on Hospice Compassus to help her terminally ill husband. But when Ingrid contacted the office on Jack’s behalf, she was already well acquainted with hospice care: both her mother and her father had been on service within the past few years. “My daughter Petra helped me,” Ingrid recalled. “She stayed by my side while Jack was in the hospital. Then she and her husband Mike rearranged furniture in our home to accommodate the bed that Hospice delivered for Jack to use.” She added, “I thought Jack would live to be 80 or 85. After he died – at age 71 – I was totally lost.” Reeling from the death of her husband, Ingrid retreated from what had been her normal life. She didn’t work for four weeks and took an extended leave of absence from Hospice Compassus volunteer assignments, as well as from


church activities. “I went back to work only out of necessity,” she said, “but it was actually good for me to get out of the house.” At home and consumed by grief, Ingrid cried every day and clung to her “best friend” – her dog. “I started to give up,” she admitted. At that point, her daughter Brenda drove in from Kentucky to spend time with her despondent mother. “She took me out to eat, we watched movies, we talked. My daughter basically ‘mothered’ me all week,” Ingrid recalled with a smile. The highlight of the visit – and Ingrid’s personal turning point – may have been the emotional wake-up call Brenda issued: “Dad died, but you didn’t. I lost my father and I don’t want to lose my mother too!” Moved by her daughter’s pleas, Ingrid knew she had to take positive action. She agreed to try a medication for six months at her physician’s recommendation. She stopped crying uncontrollably and began to rejoin the human race. On the oneyear anniversary of Jack’s death, Ingrid returned to his grave and accepted the fact he was not coming back. She has become re-involved in church activities and community service. “Oh, I still dream of about Jack, and my dreams often seem very real,” Ingrid told me. “I sometimes reach over to his

Casey and Liz Cornelius displayed this wedding photo at their 25th anniversary celebration.

side of the bed, thinking he’s still next to me. But he is no longer here, and I have to go on without him.” She added, “I enjoy working, and I enjoy spending time with my family. I plan to do both for as long as I can.”

lll Another survivor who has struggled with a crushing loss is Liz Cornelius, whose personal tragedy actually commenced five years prior to her husband’s death. “Casey and I began grieving as soon as he was diagnosed with ALS,” she said. For Liz, the grief would only intensify. Casey valiantly fought amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terminal condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which gradually robbed him of muscle control before ending his life. Before illness claimed his body, Casey “loved being a cop” for the Springfield, Missouri, Police Department. Sadly, he had to give up his job shortly after symptoms surfaced and the disease was recognized. Five years later, as Casey battled the last stages of ALS, I was touched to witness how Liz, family, friends, the Hospice team, church members, fellow police officers – even Casey’s therapy dog, Lucy – enveloped him in affection. everyday COMPASSION

New Normal

Casey and Liz Cornelius renewed

To Casey Cornelius, Lucy was both

their wedding vows on Aug. 20, 2005.

a valued therapy dog and a beloved friend.

Six months later, Casey lost his battle with ALS.

And, while verbal communication became increasingly laborious and frustrating for Casey, he always managed a cheerful greeting at my arrival and a “Thank you” at the end of our weekly visits, which were scheduled to give Liz time to dash to the grocery store. Despite his physical weakness, Casey masterfully operated a fully mechanized, state-ofthe-art wheelchair that allowed him a limited but welcomed degree of control over his mobility. The spunk that both Casey and Liz demonstrated as they coped daily with the ravages of ALS was nothing less than inspirational. Then, at age 47, Casey passed away, leaving Liz, his wife of over 25 years; two grown children, Erin and Ross; two grandchildren, Alexandra and Luke; and one unborn granddaughter, Caitlyn, who arrived on February 22 and is now five years old. Liz was suddenly alone, feeling that a major part of her had died, too. She told herself that she would never again experience joy, because feeling good would only produce guilt. “I cried all the time but expected to magically ‘get over it’ in a year.” Liz learned, however, that grieving has no rules or timeline; everyone must deal with it individually, without imposing unrealistic expectations. She found comfort,

Vol. 3 • No. 3

camaraderie, and support in small-group classes sponsored by her church, as well as in a Hospice Compassus session that focused on holiday stress. She went back to work and moved into a position requiring additional training and skills. She remodeled the living areas of her house. Lucy, the therapy dog who also mourned Casey’s death, has become a loving pet with whom Liz shares a special bond. Liz says her “funny, sweet” grandchildren fill her heart with joy, and her network of friends has grown significantly since she became a Pampered Chef consultant. “My friends at church also keep me busy, and we are prayer warriors for each other,” she added. One step at a time, Liz has learned to be on her own, reminding herself along the way that she is strong. “Things will never be the same, but I’m okay and will continue to be okay,” Liz stated confidently. “I don’t ask why. It is what it is. Recovery is all about finding a new ‘normal,’ which is different for everyone. It’s important to take the next step, whether that’s getting up to do laundry or joining a support group. And it’s important to realize that joy and sorrow can live together like partners.”


I had it made, life was great. A great family, loving wife, kids were grown, Grandkids, more on the way. Could just sit back and watch our world grow. Time to enjoy life! In a heartbeat, YOU were gone! You were my rock, my foundation. Our love was a circle, it had no beginning, and it had no end. I’m afraid of the changes. I had built my world around you. And in a heartbeat, YOU were gone! The world goes on, life is a circle. Life is spinning around, beyond my control, Time keeps rolling by; you’re always on my mind. And in a heartbeat, YOU were gone! The hours turn to days, to weeks, to months, to years. The emptiness, the hole, the hurt, is always there. Then you realize that it never goes away. It changes, but never disappears. It has just become my new normal.

By Ted Decker

Casa Grande, Arizona Grief Support Group Member


Baby Steps toward Life

By Dawn Jones-Baer

Daughter of Former Patient & Grief Support Group Member Casa Grande, Arizona



y mother did not raise me to be what she thought I had become. She raised me to be loving and devoted—at least, that’s what she told me day after day. I was not raised to be a heartless, poisoning beast that had turned my back on all that was good, true, and compassionate. But through the glasses of her confusion, she saw me as profoundly damaged; and worse, she believed I meant to harm her until she died of whatever mischief I could sneak upon her. She watched me like a hawk, unless my father was in the room; then she watched him like an eagle eying a snake sneaking up to get her eggs. It was hard for her to decide which of us was trying to break her heart more. Every waking moment of every day she used all her wiles to fend off whatever scheme she imagined we had in mind. She slipped across the floor, listening to conversations and peeking around corners. She collected car keys so she wouldn’t be stranded, even though she was no longer able to drive. She accused us of changing the phone number of every single person she had ever known. Daily I was called to leave work and jump through hoops to try to meet her demands, and no one in the family was getting any sleep. We begged our family doctor for assistance, and he wanted her to be thoroughly evaluated one last time. So we took her to the hospital; and when she came home, she wondered why we had not brought her back to her own house and why we let strangers and Boy Scouts live in the marital bedroom. There were long

stretches of yelling, glaring, and sheer visceral fear. We walked on egg shells, but it didn’t matter. Our words always hurt her; and when we did not speak, she sat in silence—wounded, bereft, and thoroughly terrified. My friends saw dark circles form under my eyes and came forward with well-intentioned though unsolicited advice; but they simply created irritation that was fed by fatigue. Once in a blue moon, my mother would briefly return to an undamaged part of her brain and we’d glimpse the dynamo we’d known all our lives. We could take a breath; and even less frequently we’d have a moment of laughter or a sliver of a shared memory, a brief interval of belief in miracles. Then the darkness would fall again, and in contrast life would feel even muddier, colder, more hopeless. The hospital called with the evaluation results the day after Thanksgiving 2010: she had rapidly progressing dementia and the prognosis was poor, usually months to a year. She didn’t seem different; but the word dementia brought to my father to tears, and he seemed to wither before my eyes. He lay down and cried, and I think he was tempted to just pull the cover over his head and hunker down in bed for the rest of his days. He couldn’t tell Mother what he had learned, feeling it would destroy whatever sense of purpose and self-preservation she had left. So we sat and talked about what the next year with her would be like, how we could handle her care and make her life worth living. What a confusing time it was that first day. We secretly hoped she’d go on longer, yet secretly feared she’d suffer for a much longer time than that. As in Macbeth, we had to screw up our courage to the everyday COMPASSION

Then one night I dreamed of my mother as she was before she became ill, the vibrant, sassy, fun person that I had known. In my dream I was elated to spend time with her, and we laughed like there was no tomorrow.

sticking point and prepare for her care. And more than anything, we prayed for strength for the endeavor. I wanted to make it until my last day of work for the year, December 17, so I could spend time caring for her without having to leave for work. Being home all day for two weeks would allow me to patch her up, fluff her up, and meet her every need. And then suddenly, on December 19, the slow slide downhill turned into active dying. Each day she had major losses. She didn’t want her medication. She didn’t want to eat or drink, and she began slipping away. Rapidly she forgot our names and began calling for her daddy and momma or a treasured aunt, while losing touch with reality. I wanted to call in Hospice, but my father felt it was too early. Soon he saw that it might be too late. She’d been sick for a long time, but suddenly she was dying and no one wanted to believe it. Hospice came to our home on a Monday, and we’d given her a ride in her wheelchair outside that afternoon. We kept her comfortable with medication and took turns lying with her in bed. She was no longer angry with us; she was just Mommy, wife, sleeping sweetly in the bed. Daddy slept in their bed with his arms protectively positioned to make sure she did not suffer an injury. She seemed aware of his presence but did not communicate any more. No fluids

Vol. 3 • No. 3

were taken. Medications were absorbed in her cheeks in liquid form. It was a rush to get her youngest son across country to see her. He arrived on December 23rd and she didn’t speak, but she seemed to know he had come. She became comatose and on Friday, December 24, 2010, Christmas Eve, with her four children, granddaughter, and husband holding her, my mother died. Busy with the funeral, we walked numbly through the following days. Again sleep was not going well. My brain was in a fog; and even though I cried some, I stuck the fact of her dying into a corner of my brain and went through the motions of living. Then one night I dreamed of my mother as she was before she became ill, the vibrant, sassy, fun person that I had known. In my dream I was elated to spend time with her, and we laughed like there was no tomorrow. When I woke up, for the first time I realized the totality of my loss. People scolded me for my grief; they thought I should be relieved and happy. Mom had slipped easily into the long night. I scolded myself; I felt guilty for being in pain over the loss of a “damaged” parent. I was given time limits by friends, impatient sighs by co-workers, and worried looks from church mates. Hey! Mama went to heaven with Jesus to spend Christmas! Ain’t that great! I yelled inside my head, “Jesus has millions of people to party with and I have JUST ONE MOM!” I wondered why I could not focus, why sleep was fleeting. I wondered why I cried each and every day, mostly for Mom but sometimes for no apparent reason. I grimaced at

commercials that spoke of mothers, Life Alert monitors, medications, and Depends. I thought several times that my life was now meaningless. There was a hole in the ground, a hole in my home, and the biggest deepest hole was in my heart. Blackness reigned. The Hospice Bereavement Coordinator, whom I had never met because Mother had died so quickly, gently prodded us with letters, phone messages, and invitations to grief support. And finally my brother, Dad, and I decided to go to a grief support group meeting. We hemmed and hawed, tried to get lost, hoped we were at the wrong place, egads, were not; but we finally showed up at the meeting. I did not want to be with more sad people. I did not want to cry in front of strangers. I did not want to have to be there, because it meant my mother was truly dead. Yet being there each week made a difference. The group that we feared might be a pity party turned into a celebration of life of our loved ones, a time to learn coping skills, and the enlightenment that we were sad and bereaved but not alone. Even though we still have some down times and some really bad days, on the whole we are getting better and starting to live again, honoring Mother by striving to be the wonderful people that (when she was well) she told us we could be, working even harder to make her dreams for us come true, one small step at a time. This would not have started to occur without grief support. Whew! What a fine relief we feel! Still miles to go before we sleep! At least I hope so!


Are You Going or Not? By Dorothy Blinzler Volunteer Coordinator - Branson/Monett, Missouri


The Erickson Family Front row: Lorraine Clegg, Pauline Erickson, Melvin Erickson. Back row: Duane Erickson, Charles Erickson.

A special Valentine Melvin made for his wife, Pauline.

A dresser Melvin Erickson made his grandmother when he was in the seventh grade.


rials in life may seem insurmountable to some, and this was the case for an Aurora, MO, hospice patient and his family. Melvin Erickson wanted to see his son, Charles, one more time before he died. The family didn’t think it was possible; both Charles and his dad agreed – this was a distant hope that would likely go unfulfilled. That’s when the Branson/Monett Hospice Compassus Dream Team went into action, and what seemed like an impossible dream was about to become a reality. Calls were made, plans were developed, and soon Charles was on a plane from California to spend precious time with his dad and the rest of the family. Charles’ mother and siblings told Kim Berry and Dorothy Blinzler, Social Worker and Volunteer Coordinator for the Monett office, that it was almost unbelievable. They commented how amazing it was that, when the going seemed too tough to handle, angels stepped up. Absorbing the fact that there were people willing to reach out and help in a time of need was almost overwhelming for the family. “I know this was God putting his helping hand in the mix,” said Charles, “because I had attended church the Sunday before we learned Dad’s dream had been granted. I told God if there was a way for me to get home to see my dad, I would be forever grateful. I really didn’t think my dad’s dream would become a reality.” Charles said no amount of money could even begin to match how he felt when he learned there was a plane ticket waiting for him. The Ericksons have been married almost 63 years. In addition to the three children, Melvin and Pauline speak fondly of their nine grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren, and they talk about all the good times they’ve had. The wide-open countryside is a passion that’s been shared by the entire family. “Let’s go!” Melvin would tell his kids when they were younger. “I’m going hunting, let’s go! If you want to go with me, let’s go!” Though not all the fishing or hunting trips were successful, the moments shared with Lorraine, Duane, and Charles were special. One of the children said, “Our Dad is a jokester but he is our everything. He means the world to us.” Besides hunting and fishing, Melvin loved woodworking – and he has results to prove it! While members of the Dream Team were visiting with the family, Melvin left the room and came back with a miniature dresser and a wooden heart. The dresser he had made by hand for his grandmother when he was in the seventh grade. “See, the drawers even open,” Melvin showed us with a smile. Pauline shared her admiration for her husband, saying that he was always surprising her in different ways. “The heart was one he made for me as something special for Valentine’s Day.” Remembering so many cherished times, Charles told the Dream Team, “I will be forever grateful that you guys were able to allow dad to have his dream fulfilled.” “Our dream has come true for Dad,” the children agreed. everyday COMPASSION

L O C AT I O N S ARIZONA 1225 Hancock Road, Ste. 200 Bullhead City, AZ 86442 (928) 763-6433

LOUISIANA 3212 Industrial Street Alexandria, LA 71301 (318) 442-5002

1675 E. Monument Plaza Circle Casa Grande, AZ 85122 (520) 421-7143

8280 YMCA Plaza Drive, Bldg. 3, Ste. B Baton Rouge, LA 70810 (225) 768-0866

1000 N. Humphrey’s Street, Ste. 220 Flagstaff, AZ 86001 1438 South College Road (928) 556-1500 Lafayette, LA 70503 (337) 235-8690 1789 W. Commerce Drive Lakeside, AZ 85929 2213 Justice Street (928) 368-4400 Monroe, LA 71201 (318) 322-0062 511 S. Mud Springs Road Payson, AZ 85541 2424 Edenborn Avenue, Ste. 230 (928) 472-6340 Metairie, LA 70001 (504) 834-1655 70 Bell Rock Plaza, Ste. A Sedona, AZ 86351 770 Gause Blvd, Ste. C (928) 284-0180 Slidell, LA 70458 (985) 639-8000 1025 W. 24th Street, Ste. 15 Yuma, AZ 85364 MICHIGAN (928) 344-6100 30665 Northwestern Hwy., Ste. 150 ILLINOIS Farmington Hills, MI 48334 755 N. Henderson Street (248) 355-9900 Galesburg, IL 61401 (309) 342-3007 MISSISSIPPI 140 North 5th 2000 W. Pioneer Parkway, Ste. 24 McComb, MS 39648 Peoria, IL 61615 (601) 250-0884 (309) 691-0280 725 Front Street Ext., Ste. 850 IOWA Meridian, MS 39301 3409 Cedar Heights Drive (601) 483-5200 Cedar Falls, IA 50613 (319) 291-9000 300 Highland Blvd, Ste. G Natchez, MS 39120 610 32nd Avenue SW, Ste. F (601) 442-6600 Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (319) 362-2500 141 Highway 90 Waveland, MS 39576 1850 East 53rd Street, Ste. 1 (888) 667-2796 Davenport, IA 52807 (563) 359-3666 MISSOURI 3044 Shepherd of the Hills Expy, KANSAS Ste. 200 200 East Centennial, Ste. 9 Branson, MO 65616 Pittsburg, KS 66762 (417) 335-2004 (620) 232-9898

3050 I-70 Drive SE, Ste. 100 Columbia, MO 65201 (573) 443-8360 600 Monroe Street, Suite 100 Jefferson City, MO 65101 (573) 556-3547 2650 E. 32nd Street, Ste. 100 Joplin, MO 64804 (417) 623-8272 707 E. Briggs Street, Ste. B Macon, MO 63552 (660) 385-4400 845 Highway 60, Ste. A Monett, MO 65708 (417) 235-9097 807 N. Main, Ste. 1 Mountain Grove, MO 65711 (417) 926-4146 4681 Osage Beach Parkway, Unit 16 Osage Beach, MO 65065 (573) 348-1566 270 Chestnut Street Osceola, MO 64776 (417) 646-2650 1465 E. Primrose Springfield, MO 65804 (417) 882-0453 1406 Kentucky Avenue, Ste. 100 West Plains, MO 65775 (417) 256-4127 NEW MEXICO 6000 Uptown Blvd., NE, Ste. 104 Albuquerque, NM 87110 (505) 332-0847 PENNSYLVANIA 711 N. York Road, 2nd Floor Willow Grove, PA 19090 (215) 659-5920

SOUTH CAROLINA 500 Jeff Davis Drive Spartanburg, SC 29303 (864) 542-2536 TENNESSEE 1412 Trotwood Avenue, Ste. 5 Columbia, TN 38401 (931) 381-4090 1805 N. Jackson, Suites 5 & 6 Tullahoma, TN 37388 (931) 455-9118 TEXAS 7000 N. Mo Pac Expy., Ste. 2070 Austin, TX 78731 (512) 246-7127 12222 Merit Drive, Ste. 1240 Dallas, TX 75251 (972) 690-6632 1770 St. James Place, Ste. 330 Houston, TX 77056 (713) 850-8853 901 North McDonald, Ste. 200 McKinney, TX 75069 (972) 548-1600 7001 Boulevard 26, Ste. 500 North Richland Hills, TX 76180 (817) 590-9623 4949 Fairmont Parkway, Ste. 300 Pasadena, TX 77505 (281) 487-3453 4204 Woodcock Drive, Ste. 240 San Antonio, TX 78228 (210) 731-0505 WEST VIRGINIA 120 Shaker Lane Princeton, WV 24740 (304) 431-2000 66 Elkins Street Welch, WV 24801 (304) 436-2300



Vol. 3 • No. 3



Q&A We have the answers for you.

Ask the Experts ABOUT HOSPICE

mother is very sick with Q: My heart failure, and my family

has been considering putting her on hospice care. A friend of mine scoffed when I mentioned that we were looking for a hospice and told me that it is just another way for hospitals and pharmacies to make money. Is it true that hospices are affiliated with hospitals and that we will be locked into getting medications from a specific pharmacy? that many hospices are A: Itpartis trueof large hospital systems.

However, there are many other hospices 30 remain independent from hospitals that and other healthcare institutions. While not all hospices are money-hungry, profitdriven businesses as your friend may think, it is still important to research the hospices available to you. Hospital-affiliated hospices are very often only a small department of a large home health system within the even larger hospital system. This can mean that

Hospice Compassus Opens New Facility

Photo by Greg Altum

By Greg Altum Staff Writer Tullahoma News

the small hospice department could be under-funded, under-staffed and use home health personnel to provide most or all of the hospice care. Keep in mind that hospice is very specialized and provides

“A big myth is that the hospice must be a not-for-profit hospice to provide quality care.” “supportive” or “palliative” care versus the very different “restorative” care in which homecare staff usually excel. You may want to ensure that only specially trained and fully dedicated hospice personnel care for your loved one, rather than the homecare worker who is scheduled to work that day. A freestanding (nonhospital affiliated), hospice-only program will specialize in hospice services alone. This single-service focus guarantees specialized and consistent hospice care. A big myth is that the hospice must be a

not-for-profit hospice to provide quality care. The fact is that the regulations governing the quality of hospice care are exactly the same for every hospice, regardless of what their IRS tax status may be. To say that tax status determines care quality would be to say that a physician with an independent practice provides lower quality of care than does a physician who is part of a not-forprofit hospital system. Both hospice-based hospices and independent hospices may require their patients to use their primary contract pharmacy provider. If your mother is hospice appropriate and receiving hospice services from a licensed and certified hospice program, the cost of her medications related to her terminal diagnoses should be paid by the hospice, regardless of the pharmacy used. So this should not affect you or your mother in any way. To make the best decision, interview your hospice choices, see how long they’ve been around, talk about any pharmacy everyday COMPASSION concerns you may have, and check out their reputations. Then make an informed choice. In the end, the hospice experience will benefit you, your mother, and your family.

Have a question about hospice? We want to hear from you! Send your questions to the editor, Brooke Legnon by email to marketing.center@hospicecom.com or mail it to Hospice Compassus, 12 Cadillac Dr., Ste. 360, Brentwod TN 37027.


ospice Compassus has relocated its office in Tullahoma, TN, to a new 2,400 square foot space in the medical complex, and the Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting to celebrate. According to Executive Director Edie Rimas, the Tullahoma office has 24 employees and is presently serving about 85 patients a day. There are many opportunities for volunteers, including providing patient support, help for families during times of bereavement, and administrative tasks. Volunteers can feel comfortable that they will receive all necessary training for the activities they select. For more information you can call the Tullahoma office at (931) 455-9118. Executive director Edie Rimas holds the scissors at the Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. To her left are RN Case Manager Susan McCurry and Volunteer Coordinator Julia Logan-Mayes. To her right are Carol Medlen, RN, Director of Clinical Services; Rob Nichols, MD, Medical Director; and RN Case Manager Angel Byford.