Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice Executive Director Sara Beil Honors the Hospice Volunteer’s Heart
By Sara Beil, Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice Executive Director // October 10, 2020
Hospice Care in the U.S. was Founded by Volunteers, Can Dedicate as Much or Little Time as Life Allows
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Volunteers are the heart of any organization. What makes hospice different than other healthcare services lines is the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires hospice to have a certain percentage of their staff hours be provided by volunteers.
In fact, in 1982 it was required hospice volunteer hours equal at least five percent of the hospice provider’s total patient care hours.
There are two types of volunteers: Direct Care Volunteers and Indirect Care Volunteers.
Direct care can encompass various activities such as providing respite for families and caregivers, participating in alternative therapy programs such as pet therapy or music therapy.
Indirect care can include, but not limited to, providing clerical support in the office or sewing our Legacy Bears which are indirect care volunteers.
One might ask why does hospice need volunteers? Our volunteers will often connect with patients and families in a way that others cannot. The volunteer is an integral part of the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) in that they provide valuable insight into the overall care of the patient.
The IDT is unique to hospice as it is patient-centered and each discipline, volunteers included, are a spoke of a wheel with the patient and family as its center. Hospice volunteers are trained and prepared with our Volunteer Coordinators, Jenna Restivo and Lesa Thompson before ever having interacted with a patient.
They are educated on the hospice philosophy, boundaries for volunteers, the overall end-of-life journey, services offered by hospice, communication tools and how to treat each patient with the utmost respect and privacy.
For one of our volunteers in particular, Lyman Rowan, I had the opportunity to sit and talk with him on his volunteer experience and asked him to share what hospice is through the eyes of a volunteer. Here is what he had to say:
“Sir Winston Churchill said, “There are many things in life that will catch your eyes, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.”
This is why I am a 26 years hospice respite volunteer. The most frequent comment I hear about hospice is “I could never be a hospice volunteer; it take a special person to do that.” Absolutely not true. It takes people like you. We are just like you.
As a volunteer, I typically spend three to four hours a week visiting with patients which can also include giving caregivers a much-needed break – or respite. Often our time together is spent playing games, watching television or just talking.
I will get to know the life story of a patient and many have been World War II or Korean War veterans. Some have never shared their military experiences with anyone, not even their family. To hear these stories remind me that we are losing generational histories every day.
Over time a friendship and a trust develops. Patients will share surprising information and stories over the course of our time. Some patients I have had the blessing of sharing time with have amazing stories.
One veteran rode in a tank with General Patton, met President Eisenhower in the Oval Office and grew up with Ronald Regan. A non-verbal patient suddenly started speaking to me about her faith and family days before her passing.
One 97-year-old man came out of a month-long coma to tell his wife he loved her before he peacefully passed away in my arms. To see the gift of hospice through the eyes of a volunteer is something that cannot be duplicated. Each patient is unique and fins a place in my heart.”
Each volunteer has his or her comfort level with hospice and that is what makes this group of professionals so wonderful. They bring life experiences, deep-felt compassion and caring for their patient and the unselfish giving of themselves.
Hospice care in the United States was founded by volunteers and we vow to continue the original mission with our team. According to National Hospice and Palliative Care Association (NHPCO) more than 400,000 trained volunteers provide more than 19 million hours of service every year. We want you to help us continue our hospice mission today.
A volunteer can dedicate as much or as little time as life allows. To become a Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice volunteer, it is as easy as picking up the phone. You can call our office at 321-253-2222 and ask to speak to Jenna or Lesa.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice Executive Director Sara Beil has been with the Wuesthoff Hospice family since May 2016. She received her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Central Florida in August 2015 and has worked in acute care since 2003 and found hospice to be her passion when she started working as a hospice educator in May 2016. Beil became the Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice Executive Director in February 2017 and said, “once I started in this field and have the ability to give the gift of hospice to the residents of our county, it is the area of healthcare in which I will remain for the rest of my career. We only have once chance to deliver exceptional, high-quality, compassionate care and I am honored to lead an organization of professionals who not only believe this but live this mission every day.” To contact Beil, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 321-253-2222.