By Wendy Moreland, Human Resources Director

When I tell people that I work at Hospice of the Panhandle as the human resources director, I often get this response, “Oh, it must take some special people to work there. I don’t think I could do that.”

Indeed, it does take some special people. It’s very hard work, but it’s also some of the most rewarding work that you can perform. Being able to guide your fellow humans and their loved ones through the end-of-life journey is truly a gift that we can bestow on others.

When I look for new employees, I have to look for that gift, and so I look for certain qualities: Caring individuals, who have compassion, integrity, flexibility, and a love for people (even with all of their complexities). This isn’t always easy to figure out by asking your typical interview questions. This gift isn’t wrapped with a pretty bow nor is it often readily identifiable. But hospice work is full of stories and if a candidate can tell me a favorite patient story, then I know we are on the right track.

More often than not, our aide candidates will tell me that they love taking care of people and that they learn so much from the stories told to them. Social work and grief counselor candidates often say that they love helping people and they get great satisfaction from assisting patients and families in both large and small ways. Our nurses almost always say that they really are looking for more one-on-one time with patients so that they can not only treat them, but also teach them and their families what to expect as they continue on this sacred journey. They often say that they left other healthcare settings because they didn’t get to spend as much time as they’d like with patients and families. And that’s why they became nurses.

Chaplains often have the most interesting stories. My job becomes figuring out if a chaplain candidate is open-minded to religious and spiritual paths other than their own. We also have more volunteers than staff (more than 200 volunteers, compared to 130 staff) and the volunteers come to us for many, many different reasons — oftentimes, because they experienced hospice care in their own lives. They all have bits of that gift.

Many of us in administrative roles have been here a long time. We know we are doing good work by supporting our clinical staff members, who are doing good work.

The majority of our staff members say they are very satisfied with their job.

And for this human resources director, that is also a gift.

Wendy Moreland has been the human resources director at Hospice of the Panhandle for 11 years. She holds a certification as a senior human resource professional and a SHRM-senior certified professional. Hospice is a not-for-profit agency that has cared for patients and families with life-limiting illnesses in Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire and Jefferson counties since 1980. For more information on how hospice helps residents of the four-county area live more fully, call (304) 264-0406, or visit on-line at www.hospiceotp.org