Hospice Nurses: Resilient, Remarkable, and Appreciated
By Kathleen Coronado, BSN, RN, VITAS Healthcare General Manager, Broward County, Florida
Challenges over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed the grit and resilience of our valued nurses, especially those who provide hospice services. As end-of-life caregivers, hospice already commands an extra level of sensitivity.
Add in changing patient access, visitor restrictions, and mask guidance, and we saw just how much day-to-day nuances shifted our care delivery.
Throughout it all, our nurses remained resolved. As committed, compassionate clinicians with a can-do attitude, they have navigated these changes with grace. Always keeping the patients and their families first, they served in ways most never anticipated.
Our nurses stood in for families who could not be by their loved one’s side as their condition worsened. They facilitated video visits to maintain a connection that would soon become a vital memory. They used technology as a substitute for in-person contact, which would never be their chosen option but was the only one they had.
Nurses learned to be strategic and innovative, using VITAS devices to link loved ones, whether they were working with COVID-19 patients or not.
Bravery of a Hospice Nurse
Bravery is a term used to describe firefighters, police officers, and soldiers; our nurses have earned this distinction, too.
Aware of the possibility of acquiring the virus themselves or passing it on to their family members at home, they entered patient rooms courageously to provide the hospice care needed as patients neared the end of their life. As best as they could, our nurses upheld the VITAS mission of enhancing the quality of life for those in the end stages of their disease.
Never forget the unmistakable influence this calling gives you.
As a nurse myself, with 23 years of experience, I see 2020-2022 as a watershed phase in the healthcare industry. I witnessed our caregivers serve with their whole hearts while also experiencing the drain that comes with special restrictions and increased volume. They knew nothing was more meaningful than serving patients as they entered the end-of-life phase.
Like many of them, I was drawn to work with the terminally ill more than 16 years ago and would not change my career path to any other niche. Now as a general manager, I feel both a duty and an honor to provide leadership and support to our field staff.
In the field, I see you as you withstand the rigors of our tumultuous times. I praise you for serving as educators, mentors, patient advocates and, when needed, hand-holders. I encourage you as we enter a newly open phase to find ways to recover and revitalize.
Hospice Nurses Are Essential to VITAS
To our nurses, YOU are the heartbeat of VITAS. As you bond with your patients, your presence is a significant gift. From all of us at VITAS, we thank you and salute you for all you do each day, every day.
To all of those considering the nursing profession, we need you. When you look in the eyes of a loved one as he or she thanks you for showing empathy to their mother, father, sibling, spouse or other loved one, you experience the value of your role beyond measure.
Hospice is a calling. In a culture that seldom speaks of death, you will have the privilege of sharing your expert guidance with grieving families. You will also listen, patiently and quietly, as the days go by and patients review their life, leaning on your compassion and care.
So many avenues will open to you as you draw on your clinical skills and pursue resourceful ways to use them. As a hospice nurse, you can offer in-person or virtual contact, or move to an administrative role. You can lead other nurses and be an example to those who ask how you cope and manage during uncertainty. Because as we have seen, our skilled and talented nurses have coped and managed.
Your expertise will always hold value. Your ability to connect with patients and bond with families will always resonate as a memory of thoughtfulness and dignity. Never forget the unmistakable influence this calling gives you.