Helping Hands Of Hospice
Wednesday - January 21, 2009
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By Ken Zeri
President & CPO of Hospice Hawaii
One of the most significant experiences of my early career as an RN was working with a patient, usually someone in the last days of their life, and watching the positive impact that hospice could have on them and their family. It never failed to amaze me how hospice members could be present without fear and how this made a difference to a family that was clearly in crisis.
For example, in my very first week in this career, the weekend nurse had to break up a fistfight at a family’s home. The pain, anger and suffering brought on by the imminent death of the family patriarch required extraordinary patience and compassion. As I visited the family, I learned how vitally important it was to listen and acknowledge their fears and sadness. By the time the patient had passed away, the family had really come together and experienced some healing.
As a young hospice nurse, I realized that in situations such as the above scenario, I could help only a few patients at a time. Now as president of Hospice Hawaii, I work with a staff that is able to help thousands of people and provide them with care for the rest of their lives.
This is the aim of our organization - to shed light on what might have been a dark and frightening passage and turn it into an experience that has purpose and value. It’s our mission to be with families and patients wherever they are on their own journey. Our philosophy of care is an approach that underscores comfort of the physical, emotional and spiritual facets during the final stages of life.
In an era of high-tech medicine, hospice care is still vital to our island society.
Families today are so very busy. The most common circumstances we find are an elderly spouse faced with the care of a dying partner with little or no help, or adult children who want to safely care for their dying parents. In the latter situation, the adult children are often burdened with work or responsibilities of their own families. They are additionally laden with expectations that they need to provide the very best care for their dying parent, but don’t how to do so.
The answer to these scenarios is a remarkable group of doctors, social workers, nurses and volunteers whose life work it is to go to wherever that patient is and offer our support.
In short, hospice has stepped in to become a new kind of specialist, to offer “rest-of-life care.” The subsequent demand for Hospice Hawaii services is rapidly growing. In the last year alone, our client load has risen more than 30 percent.
Hospice care can be provided in a private home, a nursing home or in a residential hospice facility. However, we understand every family’s situation is different. That’s where our team can assess every set of circumstances and devise a strategy that will allow the person to receive care in a supportive, safe environment - wherever that may be.
Our primary focus is on the patient and family, and we’re here to support them through their journey with unconditional respect, compassion and love. We are the support they didn’t know they needed until they received it.
We are here so they will not be alone.
At Hospice Hawaii, our team of team of physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors and chaplains has maintained the very highest levels of care to Oahu families for 30 years. Although we have evolved quite a bit since the beginning, our core values have not changed. We were created by the local community for the local community.
We have the tools to provide modern, efficient care. For example, Hospice Hawaii is implementing a state-of-the-art medical records system that will deploy each clinician with accessibility to a patient’s record, even in their home.
We’re also increasing our staff so that we have a full complement of workers on the weekend to maximize patients’ care.
We recognize that the end of life is just as vital and precious as any other stage of our existence.
Our team relates not only to their “patient,” but to that individual’s entire support system - aunties, uncles, friends as well immediate family. In a time of personal transition, Hospice Hawaii will be there to relieve suffering, offer support and make a difference in the life of each family.
After three decades of service to the public, we’re here to walk with you and your family and assist in making the rest of one’s life meaningful and surrounded by loved ones.
Our community deserves no less.
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