CAREERS IN NURSING
COMFORT AND PEACE: VALIR HOSPICE PROVIDES PEACE OF MIND
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Valir Hospice is a company on the move with a lot of good things happening, said Laura Trammell, vice president of hospice at Valir Hospice, located in Oklahoma City.
Nurses play an instrumental role with what Valir does as a hospice from education to the compassionate care they provide at the bedside, she said.
Valir Hospice is a component of Valir Health, an organization that has formed outpatient physical therapy clinics throughout the state of Oklahoma. There is also an inpatient hospital in downtown Oklahoma City as well as the hospice division that Trammell serves. There is also a wellness services division for pre-screening processes.
Trammell has been with Valir Hospice since 2008 which says a lot about her dedication to company and hospice. Valir Hospice employs about 20 nurses, a mixture of LPNs and RNs.
“I think we have done an excellent job over the years handpicking those nurses,” Trammell said. “They have a true passion for hospice. It is a calling. I don’t want people working with our hospice patients that are there for a paycheck. So I definitely believe that the nursing staff that we have are top quality.”
They are the best of the best when it comes to hospice and it is demonstrated in their work and work ethic, Trammell continued. The nurses longevity with Valir Hospice is testimony to their years of loyalty and dedication.
“That speaks highly of their employer and that speaks highly of the work ethic of the nurses that have been hired,” Trammell said.
The nurses are well engaged with the families of each hospice client as well as the circle of other professionals that work for Valir Hospice. The nurses become part of their patients’ families, Trammell said.
“They are there during a time in one’s life when emotions are so raw and sensitive. And we’re coming in providing education, medical care, spiritual care and psychological care for the patients and families in order for them to have comfort and peace at the last part of their life,” Trammell said.
Exemplary care offered by Valir Hospice does not go unnoticed. Phone calls and cards come to the office on a regular basis. Valir Hospice provides bereavement celebration of life lunches throughout the year for caregivers after their loved ones have passed.
“We invite the families to come back and visit with our staff, and it is amazing to me how many of our family members show up just to say thank you to a staff member,” Trammell continued. “They’ve missed them for being part of their family and they don’t get to see them on that regular basis like they did prior to the person passing.”
They come to the lunch to visit the nurse or a special chaplain, social worker or volunteer that had helped them through a vulnerable time of life.
Not everybody has a proclivity to be a hospice nurse as in any field of nursing. Some nurses have a different calling such as pediatrics or emergency care. Working with the terminally ill patient may not be the niche for everyone, but many hospice nurses excel by the fulfillment of helping others make a peaceful transition beyond this life.
“I would definitely have to say that it is a calling,” Trammell said of her observations of hospice nurses.
Most of the Valir Hospice nurses have experience in other areas of nursing. Most people go into nursing, Trammell said, to fix people or cure people.
“Hospice is a different kind of curative type medicine where we focus on comfort,” Trammell said. “A patient isn’t always going to get better, and that’s challenging to our nurses to get that type of practice in their head. But once they’ve done all the other type of curative medicine, most of them have found their niche within hospice.”
Hospice nurses see their field as a new journey. They may not be helping their patients to get better physically, but often their lives deepen spiritually and their patients may reach a sense of peace.
“They may not be able to get up and run a marathon, but you’re helping them and you’re helping the family move on to the next journey,” Trammell said.
More people are turning away from the negative misconception that signing up for hospice is a fatalistic death sentence. Signing up a loved one on hospice does not mean a family member has given up on their loved one, Trammell continued.
“That’s not true at all. We celebrate all periods of our life, from birth to going to school and graduation, to getting married and getting a job,” Trammell said. “And when it comes close to death people don’t want to talk about it.”
Valir Hospice nurses have been instrumental in helping clients understand the final transition of life, she said.
“Nobody wants to be in pain. Nobody wants to be alone,” Trammell said. “So that’s our job to educate the community that they will not be in pain and they will not be alone. Our nurses are fantastic in providing that level of comfort.”