By Monica Trivero, LPN, Hospice of the Panhandle

At every staff meeting Hospice of the Panhandle has had over the years, there is usually a staff member who presents to all of the staff a “connect to purpose” or why they work for Hospice and what inspires them. This pandemic has certainly made it difficult to connect with other staff members in person, but at the same time, gives an even greater appreciation for the team and each individual within it.

I would like to share my connect to purpose with not only my fellow staff members, but with readers, patients, families, and those out there who may question why people do this line of work and ask “isn’t that job so hard for you to do?”

I have done a connect to purpose, during the previous year, of why I wanted to join this hospice team. I have a totally new and different reason, now more than ever, of why this is such a wonderful place to work.

Over the past few months, not only did this pandemic hit, but my own health issues have arisen. I have stage 3 kidney disease. I’ve been in the hospital several times, probably more than I can count on both hands. I have met many different doctors, trying to find out solutions and only to end up with more problems. I have had to switch primary care physicians, and the list goes on and on. I can not only say that my hospice team has been gracious to continue to let me work around this illness, but they have also been my personal community of support. Hospice isn’t just for those patients who are terminally ill, they are for the patients and staff to continue to “Live On.” I am very passionate about this message.

The moment you join this team you are considered essential—and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each individual staff member or volunteer brings something to the team, whether it be time, love, skills, prayers or compassion.

I’ve worked from start to finish of seeing patients in our program—from the point of a patient’s admission into our program, all the way to their final hours and minutes of life. I can truly say that every step of the way for our patients and families is so important—from answering the phone, to our medical director looking for ways to say yes to potential patients, to sending a nurse to help and support the family when a patient passes away.

The journey for every patient and family is different. They may see a social worker once a week, receive hospice aide services daily, have a chaplain to support their spiritual needs and need symptom management from their nurse. Or a patient’s desire may be to have just a nursing visit one day a week. The goal for our patients and family stays the same to support our mission—to provide compassionate care to those with life-limiting illness and assist their families and caregivers—and that care is directed by the patient and family. And Hospice of the Panhandle’s mission is behind every policy and procedure and reviewed constantly to ensure the best quality of care is given on a daily basis.

I’m not saying we are perfect, because we are learning every day with how to adapt to each individual patient and family, but we are close. We adapt every day.

My hospice family adapted to my needs, as well as the needs of my other co-workers. Whether it be adjusting a schedule for their child who is now learning the new virtual way of schooling, having a grandchild born, or having a close loved one pass away, there is never a question as to what is the most important. From staff members, there is love, encouragement and learning to put themselves in that person’s shoes by setting up a meal train or managers adjusting to employee restrictions.

By the time this article is out, I’ll be out in the field, without restrictions, doing what I love the most. So I want to answer this question again, isn’t that such a hard job for you to do?

Yes, but I couldn’t do it without my team. I couldn’t do it without the support to “live on.” And I certainly couldn’t do it without the patients and families that I have encountered.

Monica Trivero is a Licensed Practical Nurse at Hospice of the Panhandle. She provides crisis care and phone support to hospice patients and their families. She has been compassionately caring for hospice patients when they need her the most for three years. Hospice of the Panhandle surrounds those experiencing life’s final months with expert, compassionate care. This personalized support helps hospice patients live on their terms wherever they call home.

For more information about hospice care for yourself or a loved one, call (304) 264-0406 or go to hospiceotp.org. The sooner you enter our circle of support, the more we can do to help.