McDonough District Hospital recognized for work ethic

Steven Barnum , News editor

The Grateful Patient Program recently recognized the hospice team at the McDonough District Hospital with the “Healing Hand Award.”

Terminally-ill patients who wish to be treated and potentially cured often rely on hospice teams, like the one at the McDonough District Hospital. After a family with a sick relative was pleased with the group’s work ethic and kindness, they nominated them for the award. According to Deb Lawver, the award symbolizes passion for what they doand effort.

“This is a way that folks can recognize a particular team member or department,” Lawver said. “They can recognize caregivers throughout our organization who have made a difference in the care that they received or in theirpatient experience.”

Lawver is the leader of home health and hospice at the hospital, a section that includes five nurses, three nurse’s aides, two counselors and one doctor. Additionally, there are volunteers within the department who provide companionship to patients. Lawver said that the award highlights the care that everyone in this department puts into their job.

“This is for all of them because it was the entire team that shared their work with the patient,”Lawver said.

Home health, the other section that Lawver oversees, provides terminally-ill patients with care inside the comfort of their own home. Such patients prefer to stay at home in these bleak situations, so it’s important for Lawver’s team to be able to provide care for them too. That care includes issuing antibiotics and conductingcardiac assessments.

It’s typical for families who watched the hospice team care deeply for their loved ones to send in a thank you note or a donation to the department or hospital, but Lawver said that this particular family took an ever bigger step. They wanted to further recognize the hospice team for its continuous care in order to manage the patient’s symptoms and keep pain under control.

“The team’s number one priority during the end of the patient’s life is making sure that they are comfortable. They want to help that patient and family member to fully enjoy the time that they have left,” Lawver said.

In such a humbling line of work, there is no shortage of sad moments while on the job. Lawver believes that the team is fixated on eliminating the anxieties that people have when dealing with illnesses.

“When they alleviate some of the questions and pain that comes with managing an illness, then the wife can just be a wife or the son can just be a son,” Lawver said. “The professionals are there to carry some of the burden.”

The care means a lot to the family, but the award may mean even more to the team. Lawver said that she thinks the team looks at its work as a mission.

“Each member was very touched that they were recognized,” Lawver said.

“They consider it an honor to be able to share this time with patients. This group does not shy away from the patient in their final months of life and they are proud of that. I think that it’s another testament to the difference that their type of care can totally change the experience and how we look at final days.”