What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Simone Pike, RN

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Simone Pike, RN

I never saw myself in the medical field.  Maybe it’s because my Mom had chronic illnesses that made me an anxious child and I wanted to be far from medicine and health care. Then my Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer when I was 16. I became her caretaker. My Mom, who was previously a nurse, said I’d make a good nurse and I brushed it off. The hospice team down where I’m from were our angels. The cancer took her in two and a half months. My whole life changed. My then 17-year-old mindset went from my boyfriend and college to the meaning of life and death. I decided to take a CNA course and see how it went…I loved it. Although I’m introverted and can be seen as a hard exterior,  I was a natural at caring for people in need. When college came around, I enrolled in nursing school and although that was the second hardest thing I’ve ever gone through it was totally worth it. Caring for people, especially those in this fragile part of life, gives me so much warmth inside. I look up to all of you and the hard work we do. I’m proud to be a part of a team that really...
What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Elaina Greenarch, RN

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Elaina Greenarch, RN

Since I was a small girl, I knew nursing was my calling. In high school I started working in a local nursing home & fell in love with caring for the seniors in my community. For the past 22 years I have found an abundance of joy in serving the seniors in my area. Along my journey I was blessed to meet some amazing hospice nurses & always felt that someday my path would lead me down this road. I had always felt a special honor in assisting patients at the end of their lives, in helping them ease through their transition & doing whatever I can to ease the worry of their loved ones. A close friend, Amy Souva, started working for Transitions & immediately began  attempting to recruit me. I’d had the pleasure to work with every local hospice company but when Transitions entered the scene & she started telling me about their mission, then I read the commandments, I just knew this was the perfect team for me. And I was not wrong!  This job is so incredibly rewarding & I learn something from my fellow nurses every day! I am absolutely honored to be part of the Transitions Team! & am so thankful that Amy snatched me up to ride along on this amazing...
What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Andrea Freeman, RN

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Andrea Freeman, RN

I have been a nurse for many years and have worked in different fields during this time.  I was always interested in hospice but I was never able to commit due to having a demanding family schedule that would not have allowed me to be truly there for my patients.  Well, things change and my daughter is now pretty much self sufficient at the age of 13 (to say the least..) so my decision to revisit a hospice career came into play once more.  I interviewed with Transitions and really liked what the mission and philosophy that was presented to me stood for. Now that I have worked for Transitions for over a year, I believe wholeheartedly that I have found my passion within hospice. I enjoy the connections I have with my patients and their families.  Nowhere else can a nurse feel such gratification and validation!  To become such a part of that patient’s life at the end of their life is truly rewarding.  At the end of the day when I am mentally exhausted, I collect my thoughts and know there is nothing else I would rather be doing. I have spent many nights crying for my patients, advocating for my patients and always trying to figure out what more I can do to ensure that they have awesome moments, making each day better than the last.  I have been told that it takes a special person to be able to care for another human being in their final stages of life.  And it does.  Nursing is centered around caring and that is a trait that cannot...
What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Rebecca Hunter, RN Case Manager

What It Means To Be A Hospice Nurse…Rebecca Hunter, RN Case Manager

Growing up I never wanted to be a nurse. I thought all they did was sit in doctors’ offices and spend most of the day on the phone talking to patients.  To say that was a misconception is an understatement! Born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, I began my career in the health care field in 1998. As years passed, I found my self gaining experience in every spectrum of the health care continuum (M.D. offices, X-ray, MRI, ER, Surgery, to name a few). Throughout this time, I was able to see nurses in various roles and with just as varied responsibilities. My view of the nursing field changed, and as many have done and will continue to do, I put myself through school while working nights as a tech in the ER. In the last 12 years as a nurse, my specialty focus had been ICU. I was even blessed to have helped coordinate organ donations. I can’t begin to imagine the number of patients I’ve helped care for over the years who have been in the last moments of their lives. But it is only in the last couple of years did I truly awaken and realize my place not only in nursing, but on this Earth.  Moving to Central Illinois two years ago was a tremendous change.  A leap of Faith, not knowing a soul down here…a new job opportunity for me and and a good school district for my son.  While working ICU for the last two years, I have helped more patients pass away with dignity and provided genuine support for...
Social Work Spotlight: Leslie Kula-Leitner

Social Work Spotlight: Leslie Kula-Leitner

Leslie Kula-Leitner, MSW, LCSW, ACM-SW Bereavement Counselor Transitions Hospice Education: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Benedictine University MSW, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Professional Background: Post grad school, I worked for a year at Lexington of Bloomindale, a skilled nursing facility, as the Admissions & Social Services Director. After that, I was a Medical Social Worker in several departments at Alexian Brothers Medical Center. The last eight years, I was the Social Worker for the Palliative Care team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. I have also had multiple internship experiences and part-time jobs, including working with kids who have autism spectrum disorder; a halfway house helping women with addictions; and a county community health center. I also have experience for about a year as a therapist in private practice. Why did you become a social worker? Why did you become a hospice social worker? I became a social worker because working with people and helping people was my interest. I am not a person who does well with routine, so I enjoy the unique situation that every person presents and the unknown of each day. I chose to pursue hospice work after my job in palliative care and some of my personal experiences with hospice. I always viewed hospice workers as very special and truly see the honor of being a part of peoples’ end-of-life stage. How would you describe your experience as a hospice social worker? I have enjoyed the quality time I spend with patients, families and co-workers. I have been able to be a supportive force for patients and families during some of their darkest times. Most...
Transitions Hospice Celebrates National Volunteer Week

Transitions Hospice Celebrates National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week takes place April 15-21, 2018. This commemoration, established in 1974, provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate volunteers and volunteerism. “At Transitions Hospice, we are fortunate to have many dedicated individuals who volunteer with our clients and their families. It takes a special person to spend her/his volunteer time with people living with life-limiting illness,” said Elise C. Wall, Volunteer Coordinator at Transitions. “These volunteers inspire me every day with their gentle and creative approach to serving others.” Transitions Hospice owner and CEO, Jim Palazzo, is very supportive and proud of the volunteer program. “We believe in focusing on the life each individual has to live. Our volunteers help our patients and families make the most of what time is left.” Transitions volunteers donated over 2500 hours of their time to patients and families in 2017. Companion Volunteers visit, play games, read, reminisce and share stories with their patients. Vigil volunteers have the opportunity to sit bedside in a patient’s final hours. “Sometimes, all that is needed is a supportive presence and a hand to hold,” Wall said. Transitions volunteers offer all of this and more. Office-based volunteers help support patients and families through completing clerical tasks and assembling informational packets and binders. “We are always ready to welcome new volunteers onto our team,” stated Sara Dado, Executive Director of Transitions. “Our program is growing and we look forward to increasing our roster of valued volunteers,” Dado said. This year’s theme for Volunteer Week is “Celebrate Service.” Transitions wishes to recognize, celebrate, and thank all volunteers for their donation of time and talent. Hospice volunteers serve...