Volunteer of the Quarter - Staci Cummings - Heart 'n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC
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Volunteer of the Quarter – Staci Cummings

Congratulations Staci Cummings, La Pine Heart ‘n Home Volunteer! We are so grateful for her service and huge heart for those around her!

Imagine this: you’ve been a Hospice Volunteer for a while. You’ve dropped off flowers from time to time, made some projects with the Youth Volunteers, and perhaps you’ve been in charge of birthday cards for patients. But then, a close friend comes on hospice services.

If you’re Staci Cummings, your volunteer style changes dramatically.

It began when a man named Doug put his wife Nancy (names changed for privacy) on hospice services after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Doug tried everything he could, and even took his wife all the way to Australia for experimental treatment. Eventually it became clear that Nancy’s disease was so advanced that it was time to simply make her comfortable and allow her to live out her days in Doug’s care with the support of Heart ‘n Home.

Staci was Nancy’s friend for a long time and she watched Nancy’s journey. She then referred Doug to our local Heart ‘n Home office. Staci lovingly volunteered for Nancy, only reporting a few hours here and there as a Volunteer and supporting Doug and Nancy as a family friend throughout the week.

One solemn day, Doug called Staci in a panic. He was in severe pain and needed to be rushed to the emergency room. Staci stayed with Nancy all day while Doug was at the hospital, where he eventually was diagnosed with end-stage liver cancer. Doug came on our services immediately so we could administer comfort measures. We helped to place Nancy in an adult foster home so Doug could trust she was taken care of. Staci took him to his paracentesis appointments, which were about 80 miles round trip. She did so with love and care and tenderness only a family member could, with the skill and expertise of a highly trained Heart ‘n Home Volunteer.

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Staci Cummings, La Pine Volunteer

Earlier I said that Staci would be most likely found making Valentine’s Day cards for patients or coordinating the Youth Volunteer projects. Staci ended up being at bedside as often as she could and we had planned to schedule an 11th Hour Training just for her. “I couldn’t do this for anyone else, but I have to be there for him,” she said.  She was able to be with him when he passed away.

We are thankful for Staci. La Pine is a better place with Staci in it, and our community benefits from her passion for hospice and caring for her friends and neighbors. I wish I didn’t know what it looked like when patients do not have someone in their corner- unfortunately this happens too often. Doug was not one of those people. Doug had a champion rooting for him until the end.

Joelle Brown
La Pine Volunteer Coordinator
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC

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Hospice Youth Volunteer Scholarship Winners: Fruitland High School

Congratulations to the 2011-2012 Cicely Ambassadors for a very successful year of serving patients and your community, as well as all of the countless moments that will be not be forgotten.  A special congratulations to our scholarship winners from Fruitland High School:

  • Milly Davis ($1,500)
  • Kacie Gastanaga ($1,250)
  • Emily Tingey ($1,250)
  • Daniel Dahle ($1,000)
  • Jandee Carlson (1,000)

We are very proud of your successes and look forward to the 2012-2013 Ambassador Team who are already trained and volunteering.

Pictured Left to right: Todd Stice, CFO, Heart ‘n Home; Milly Davis; Jandee Carlson; and Kacie Gastanaga (Daniel Dahle not pictured)

Top Fears of Caregivers – Getting Sick

“’Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.” Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862).

We may not like it but getting sick is a part of life and Thoreau may have been onto something. After all, being sick usually means we can stay home from work or school, lie in bed or on the sofa in our pajamas, and maybe even get taken care of for a couple of days. But for professional caregivers and individuals caring for a loved one in the home, coming down with cold or flu can be a huge inconvenience and stressor – and you don’t want to spread illness to anyone, especially your patient. Newborns, the disabled and elderly, and those with chronic diseases are most at risk for contracting illness.

At Heart ‘n Home, we encourage good health and well-being for our patients and their families, employees, and Volunteers through proper diet, regular exercise (if able), staying hydrated, “me time,” and getting plenty of sleep.

Taking some precautions during cold and flu season is important, especially for caregivers so as not to spread germs to already vulnerable patients. Here are some ways to protect yourself and those around at home and work:

  • Stay away if you have symptoms! Don’t go to work, school, or to see your patient. Instead, see your doctor.
  • Wash your hands frequently, scrubbing for at least 15-20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself to be sure you’re taking enough time).
  • Carry hand sanitizer at all times and use it frequently.
  • When in public places, avoid touching door handles, stair and escalator rails, countertops, magazines, even pens. Best is to have a paper towel in your hand but if that’s not practical, wash your hands after contact.
  • Planning a trip? Remember that the close quarters of an airplane, train, or bus can harbor germs. Build up your immune system ahead of time with an over-the-counter supplement or preventative vitamin.
  • Feel a sneeze or cough coming on? Grab a tissue! According to ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, the safest way to sneeze is into a tissue because 100% of the germs expelled during a sneeze (which can travel up to 10 or more feet away) are trapped in the tissue. No tissues handy? The next best thing is to sneeze or cough into the interior of your elbow. Watch

Finally, take a few extra precautions. Wear gloves when handling contaminated waste (diapers, dressings, sanitary products) or even ordinary household trash. When doing laundry, wear gloves if linens are soiled. Hold linens away from your body, don’t shake, and wash separately from household laundry. Change bathroom towels and washcloths daily. Store food properly and dispose of anything questionable or past the expiration date. Don’t let anyone with a weakened immune system handle or change fish tank water, bird droppings, or cat litter. Wear a mask or gloves if changing these things for a patient. Whenever possible, let fresh air circulate throughout the home. It may be “healthy to be sick sometimes,” but it sure is more fun to be healthy!

Tips for avoiding the flu.

Hospice Volunteer of the Month – October 2011

Phyllis was born in Mountain Home, Idaho, and at about the age of three months her family moved to Portland, Oregon. She and her husband, Mike, have been married for 20 years and have five children and five grandchildren. Phyllis has worked as a cook for Elkhorn Adolescence and has spent most of her career cooking; whether it was hiring, managing, or doing the cooking herself. About 16 years ago, Betty and Mike moved to Granite (a little place out of Baker City) to retire. Phyllis likes to play pool, read mysteries or other good novels, and does some quilting in her spare time. Phyllis stays very active in her church, her community, and helps friends and neighbors whenever possible.

Phyllis admits she was nervous for her first Volunteer assignment, and was pleased when it worked out so well! Phyllis states, “Volunteering has led me to want to help and serve others as much as I can.” She laughs and says, “It has helped me learn to deal with all sorts of people and problems.  Some of my patients haven’t talked very much, but they know I am there and I see the light in their eyes and the smile on their faces. It’s wonderful and every experience is different. I enjoy getting to know them and helping where I can, whether it is sitting by their side, holding their hand, or doing their dishes.”

Heart ‘n Home is so happy to have Phyllis as a Volunteer! Thank you, Phyllis for the work and dedication you provide to your patients.

Help us congratulate Phyllis and what she represents to all volunteers!

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