Nursing is considered one of the most noble and compassionate professions in the world. Those who choose nursing as a career have a strong desire to help others heal and return to normal life. But what about those patients who will not be returning to a normal life, and instead have received a terminal diagnosis? How can taking care of patients at the end of their life be rewarding? The staff of Karmen Legacy Hospice in Stillwater answer the questions that many healthcare providers have about the challenges and rewards of providing hospice care. (story continues below)
Sherry Crockett, Director of Karman Legacy Hospice, has been a nurse for 32 years. When asked how she became a hospice nurse, she said, “I was a home health nurse working in quality assurance. A friend called me to discuss the idea of joining her to work at a local hospice agency. After being allowed to shadow my friend on a few patient visits, I was hooked.”
Sherry said that while she has worked in many aspects of nursing over her career, she feels most fulfilled when she has the honor to provide her patients with the best quality of life in their final days. “Being a hospice nurse is the greatest job,” said Sherry. “Our patients give us more than we give them. I have a sense of purpose working with hospice patients and their families.”
With nearly 20 years of hospice experience, Mary Vanzant, LPN, has found her passion serving as an urgent care/on call hospice nurse. She remembers that during her first year of hospice nursing, she experienced a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.
“You realize you are only here for a short time, and not invincible,” she said. “It will humble you to see the importance of living life everyday as though it was your last, enjoying the little things and how precious time is.”
Kristie Talley, RN, has been part of the hospice family at Karman Legacy for just over 5 years. She was first introduced to the hospice process after her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and there were no longer any paths for active treatment. Kristie had heard of hospice but was not sure what all it entailed. She said she quickly realized that hospice is not where patients just go to die, but where they go to live.
“Let me clarify that my grandmother did die, but hospice helped her live out the remainder of her time on earth the way she wanted to, on her terms, with dignity and respect, with little to no pain, and surrounded by loved ones and not machines,” said Kristie.
Tiffany Myers, LPN, has worked as a hospice nurse for 2.5 years. She was first introduced to hospice when her grandfather was a hospice patient.
“I saw the love, care and exceptional compassion that went into keeping him comfortable, and my family was part of the nurse’s concern as well,” said Tiffany. “I wanted to be a part of that most important time in a person’s life.”
Tiffany said that she loves her job, and she is proud of the end of life care she is able to provide for her patients and their family.
Danielle Vargas, RN, has been providing hospice care for about 6 months. Like a lot of other hospice nurses, she was introduced to hospice care when a family member was receiving care.
“I had an uncle that was sick with cancer that was receiving hospice services,” she said. “Something just clicked during that experience for me, and I felt drawn to it.”
She said that after a difficult day at work, she refills her bucket by spending time with her family. “I have two little girls that are absolute blessings.”
Angela Garcia, RN, has been a hospice nurse for just 2 months after previously working as a CNA. She advises anyone considering hospice to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
“You have to be open-minded to everyone’s beliefs and center your care around what is best for each individual,” said Angela.
She continued to say that hospice team members are special people with the ability to spread love and comfort to those most in need.
“There’s no better reward or feeling in the world like being able to fulfill someone’s dying wishes and letting their loved ones see them die peacefully,” she said.
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