A letter I sent to the hospice team I have the privilege to work with.
I feel a deep sense of gratitude as I finish my orientation that I would like to share with you.
Each person who has helped to orient me has had an impact on my practice.
To the CNA’s and HHA’s: You have shown me the foundation of connection. Being present with our clients and having to help them when they are most vulnerable. You provide help with activities we once took for granted we could do, sensitive daily rituals involving intimate parts of our bodies that are normally never exposed to others. You help take the sting, embarrassment and, for some, shame out of needing this kind of assistance. You do it with such professionalism and compassion that it puts our clients at ease. This is a priceless gift. Thank you.
To our Spiritual Care Team: You have shown me the deep, rich mine of mystery that lies within each of us. You provide our clients a link between this life and the next, the wonder of finding a connection to something greater than ourselves, the power that a prayer, the singing of a favorite hymn or spiritual song, can do to bring peace to troubled or aching souls.
To our Social Workers: You have shown me the art of performing the intricate steps required in the dance of human relationships. In an ever changing, unpredictable and often thorny path, you place your feet calmly and with purpose, clearing the way for our clients and their loved ones to find their way back to each other. When that is not possible, you comfort and hold them, witness to the immense limitations and possibilities we humans have as social creatures in relation to one another.
To our Nurses: You have shown me patience, courage, skill and resilience. You give me such pride in the heritage of our profession, of all the women and men who walked into danger without blinking to ease the pain of wounds, to minister to our fickle bodies that sometimes seem to betray us. You radiate compassion without pity, withstand fractious moods and misplaced anger, find creative ways to work in sub-optimal conditions so that if the gold standard of care cannot be met, the patient still receives the best care within the limitations you are presented with.
To our Physicians and Nurse Practitioners: You lead, you innovate, you tolerate levels of stress that would break most and have caused many of your colleagues to leave the profession. You use humor, patience and forbearance to keep our patients comfortable and willingly challenge your colleagues when they show ignorance about palliative care and hospice. You educate, you guide, you inspire.
To everyone in the office: Sometimes I think you have the hardest jobs of all because you do not go into the homes and feel the gratitude, see the expressions of relief and share the laughter and tears with our clients. You provide each of us in the field with invaluable support and encouragement. You keep things running in the most difficult conditions I think our health care system has ever faced.
I am so proud to be a part of this team. I value each of you, am looking forward to continuing to get to know you and hope that I can prove to be a colleague worthy of all you have given me.
With immense gratitude and respect,