TCMH Hospice of Care recognizes volunteers

Texas County Memorial Hospital Hospice of Care recognized its volunteers last week at a luncheon.

“This celebration of volunteering allows us to remember that without volunteers of all types, we would be a much poorer society,” said Sandy Eaton, Hospice of Care volunteer coordinator and licensed practical nurse. She said the reception was “a special thank you to everyone who chose to make a special difference in someone’s life that was going through a difficult time.”

Since 1983, volunteers have been working with Hospice of Care to provide care for terminally ill patients in Texas County and the surrounding area.

“The hours a volunteer works are strictly up to them,” Eaton said. “They set their own time and days, and the only commitment we require is a half hour each week from a volunteer.”

Hospice of Care has 13 volunteers.

TCMH Hospice of Care was the first hospital-based hospice in Missouri, and Medicare requires that hospices regularly recruit, train and retain volunteers to provide hospice care. In fact, Medicare regulations require that volunteers do 5 percent of the hours worked by the participating hospice.

In 2008, volunteers averaged 7.7 percent of the total hours worked at Hospice of Care. The monetary value to the hospice program equaled $8,287 in volunteer patient care and $1,287 in non-patient care.

Volunteers assist with hospice-related events like the annual Chili Cook Off, Bereavement Tea and various health fairs. Indirect patient care may involve helping the hospice staff with office work like answering the phone, filing or copying. Direct patient care involves sitting at a patient’s bedside or talking with family members. Sometimes volunteers attend the funeral of a patient that passes away, and a volunteer may continue to keep in touch with the family members.

Phyllis Arthur of Houston is a Hospice of Care volunteer that received an award for 25 years of volunteer service with the local hospice.

“I thoroughly enjoy it,” Arthur said. “The families you meet are wonderful, and volunteering for hospice is very worthwhile for me.”

Arthur’s long tenure as a hospice volunteer makes her a “requested” volunteer by some families in Hospice of Care service.

“I try to give whatever each family needs,” Arthur said. “Sometimes it’s just an hour a day, and sometimes I need to sit all night with a patient.”

Peggy Martin of Houston was also honored by Hospice of Care for volunteering the most hours directly and indirectly in 2008. Martin had 207.55 hours of direct patient care and 55.5 hours of indirect patient care.

Martin moved to Texas County from Dallas, Texas, in 2007 and began volunteering for Hospice of Care last year. Martin works a full-time job and described her volunteering as something she does “in my spare time.”

“I heard about the work of Hospice,” Martin said. “This provides me with the opportunity to do something for God’s people.”

Eaton explained that over the past year Martin has specifically worked with two Alzheimer’s patients that are on hospice service. In addition to sitting with the patients, Martin sings, reads, applies lotion to their bodies, fixes their hair, applies makeup and assists with range of motion exercises.

“I don’t get a lot of feedback from the patients due to the Alzheimer’s,” Martin said. “But they know me and respond to my care.”

Both Arthur and Martin can’t say enough about working with Hospice of Care staff, calling them “marvelous” and “wonderful.”

Eaton is quick to point out, “You can have leaders, but if you don’t have workers with heart, you can’t do the job.” Eaton explained that many Hospice of Care referrals come from interactions with volunteers.

Hospice of Care also recognized Dr. Michael Busha and Dr. Charles Mueller, co-medical directors of the hospice program at TCMH, another volunteer job with the organization.

“Dr. Busha is always willing to stop and listen,” Eaton said. “Our physicians keep us on track medically.”

In 2007, the TCMH Healthcare Foundation began working with Hospice of Care, creating a “hospice fund” for donations designated for Hospice of Care. Jay Gentry, director of the foundation, participated in the luncheon to thank the volunteers and to recognize two families that have donated to Hospice of Care for many years.

John and Jeannie Beltz of Willow Springs and Dr. I.C. and Margaret Keeney of Houston have donated beef to Hospice of Care for many years. The beef is locally grown and sold at the annual Texas County Fair, purchased by the Beltz and Keeney families and given to hospice to auction at a fund-raising event.

The Beltz and Keeney families have had family members in Hospice of Care service.

“If I live to be 100 and help some every year, you’ll never be repaid,” John Beltz said after Gentry presented a plaque honoring the donations. “It was our choice to have our son, Andy, cared for at home by Hospice of Care.”

Dr. Keeney, in accepting the foundation recognition, noted that he was glad to help Hospice of Care after the service they provided for his own father and for many others in the community.

“We hope that the Keeney and Beltz families will inspire many others to walk in their path,” Gentry said.

Both families will have engraved leaves placed on the “Tree of Life” in the front lobby of the hospital.

Several family members of those that received hospice care in the past year were also present at the luncheon. Family members of hospice patients occasionally become volunteers after experiencing the service.

“We all come full circle,” said Melissa Bosserman, licensed social worker and director of Hospice of Care. “Some have used volunteer services and others are now giving back.”

Hospice of Care provides orientation for new volunteers – covering such things as privacy policies, infection control procedures and bereavement.

Monthly in-services are also provided to Hospice of Care volunteers. The training may cover how to use a hospital bed to caring for a patient using oxygen. Volunteers are required to complete four hours of continuing education each year.

Eaton will accept a new hospice volunteer at any time. Interested persons may contact her at 417-967-1279 for additional information. Volunteers must go through an evaluation process and full background check before acceptance into the program.

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