by Heather Serfass, HPCCR Education and Resource Manager
As an Education and Resource Manager for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, I am constantly amazed by the compassionate stories I hear about our nurses, social workers, chaplains, and grief counselors. When asked to compare our services to those of another hospice agency, I often rely on those stories to express why our organization is the best option for end-of-life care in the Charlotte region. Last week, I learned of a truly moving experience that I feel compelled to share on a broader level.
Anyone who has worked in long-term care can attest that working side-by-side to care for chronically and critically ill patients creates a family-like environment. You meet people in their time of need and spend some of the worst days and sometimes the best days together. Most weeks, you spend more time with your co-workers than your family. In that way, your co-workers become a secondary family.
A week ago, one of our local senior living communities experienced a sudden tragic loss of one of their staff members in the building. A Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region hospice nurse happened to arrive just as this event was unfolding. Immediately, she reached out to her team manager for help. The response she and the community received from HPCCR perfectly displays the way we exceed the expectations of everyone we touch.
Our team chaplain set out directly for the hospital where the staff member was taken, to offer guidance and support to those who had gathered there. One of our grief counselors and the team social worker raced to the senior living community to further support the nurse who was helping the shocked staff members. Together, they helped inform the other employees of the dire outcome and made a plan to provide grief support in the coming days. Although there was nothing our team members could do to prevent or change this awful event, the support they provided throughout that day (and continue to provide today) is remarkable.
Additionally, (and this one really got me) other outside agency representatives were in the building at the time of this tragedy and they did nothing — they just kept going about their day, onto the next patient. Our entire team, on the other hand, dropped everything to support the community in their time of need. Because it was the right thing to do. Because it’s what we do.
Today I have new answers to the questions “Why should I utilize hospice services?’ and “Why HPCCR?” Today, wholeheartedly, my answers are Caroline Mbugua, Maria Dobbins, Faheema Jones, Butch Branscome, and Beth Brittain, the heroes who rushed to help a grieving community when it was needed most.