I started working as a nurse and directly into hospice when I was 58 years old. Although I had been in the medical field in other roles and had lost friends and relatives of my own, I didn’t really understand the scope of care in death and dying until I came to work for Transitions. My mother died in hospice half-way through nursing school and I thought she had very good care; in fact, the nurses were a big reason I wanted to work with hospice patients. Now, after being a hospice nurse myself for five years and caring for many patients and families through this difficult but often beautiful time, I know that it could have been better back to my mother’s time.
I also know that my initial reasons for working in hospice are still my reasons for staying. I’ve been with only one company as a nurse because Transitions takes good care of our patients like we would our own families. As hospice nurses, we offer comfort care instead of invasive measures, a shoulder to cry on instead of a never-ending parade of experts, education instead of a lecture.
As a Transitions Hospice nurse, I have the time to get to know my patients as well as their families and to do the little things that make their life more enjoyable and their loved one’s death less traumatic. I remember joining hands with an Italian family and singing a round of “That’s Amore” as their mother passed peacefully and her son saying, “We couldn’t have planned a better end for her.” I loved obtaining an order for beer with lunch and dinner for my patient who always requested “a shot and a beer” when asked what I could get her. And one of my favorites, scouting garage sales for a lamp for my little lady who thought her room at the nursing home was “too dark and dreary,” as she would often say.
At one point last year, it was a family member who needed Transitions care. When my father-in-law was dying and I told the family that we could keep him at home, Transitions staff were there 24/7 through those last days. My in-laws had never experienced anything like that and were so comforted by the fact that he could die at home with his wife of 71 years at his side.
We have three commandments at Transitions: Commit to Hospice, Always Do the Right Thing, and Each Person is an Individual and Unique. I consider being a Transitions Hospice nurse a privilege because I have the opportunity to live those three principles every day and in my belief, these three set us apart from others. These take end of life care to a new level and indeed, make every patient’s final days count.
Susan is a Nurse Case Manager for Transitions Hospice. She has been in the medical field in a variety of roles for over 40 years, but calls hospice her “true calling.” Susan is a wife to David, mother to Natalie and Gwen, and grandmother to Morgan and Ellie. Her family is her passion, and her love of camping and travel is known to all. She intends to explore complementary medical practices such as Reiki and Reflexology to add to her holistic care of others.