NEWBERRY — “Your commitment is free and from the heart. It’s loving and caring people like you who chose to be a part of our family,” said Holly Knight as she and Charlotte Berry welcomed the Palmetto Health hospice volunteers for Newberry to their recognition banquet.
Knight and Berry both work for Palmetto Health Hospice and were there along with other hospice employees to recognize the free service they provide to patients in hospice because they want to.
Berry also went around to patients rooms and asked them what they thought of the volunteers. She received notes such as, “One patient said it’s like having a good friend. They don’t the comfort they provide.”
Knight pointed out some figures from the volunteers service time and commended them for going above the expected five percent that Medicare requires.
“With what you have done in conjunction with Columbia, you have gotten to 17 percent (of the required time by Medicare),” said Knight.
Other volunteer statistics for the year include:
• Travel time exceeds $1,000 miles
• Time put in equals 296 hours
• Cost savings for the hospice exceeds 5,600
• Volunteers have a total of 122 patient visits
• 10 bereavement units
The volunteers may contribute as much time as they can handle. Their services include: patient care, sitting with the patient, transporting the patients to appointments, etc., administration work, moral support and 11th hour volunteer otherwise known as the imminent time, according to Debbie Waldrop, volunteer coordinator and community educator
Waldrop points out that one of their volunteers, Joan Felker, put in 100 hours this year. Felker was unable to attend the banquet but there were about a handful of volunteer who did make it and were honored for their selfless service.
The Palmetto Health Hospice Chaplain Charles Pollock spoke some encouraging words to the volunteers.
“We enter the families as strangers but we become a part of their family,” said Pollock, “Our work requires a friendly presence. Thoughts to leave with you: My attitude determines the future. Attitude is personal. No one can change your attitude but you. Think positive. …Take care of yourself and love yourself. Have an inner peace. Do something to relax your mind.”
The Faces of the Volunteers
Trini Windham has been volunteering since 2006 in the Columbia area and she is also the president of the Friends of Hospice Volunteers group.
Windham’s mother was in hospice care before she passed away in 2004.
“My mother was under hospice care at Palmetto Health. That’s how I got involved,” she recalls, “She told me one night, you’d make a good hospice volunteer and that stayed with me.”
Windham volunteers for “the satisfaction you receive from helping someone in their time of need. It’s a wonderful feeling to offer assistance.”
While Windham relishes the moments she offers care to hospice patients, it can be emotionally tough.
“One of the bad things with losing a patient is after you’ve grown close to them,” she says as she recalls a patient she had for about two and a half years.
She says the patient did not know her because of the disease the patient had. However, after the patient died, she got in touch with the spouse. Soon though the spouse died and Windham went to the memorial service which did bring up many emotions, she said.
“At the memorial service their kid came up to me and said, ‘My (parent) talked about you all the time,’” recalled Windham as she was brought to think about why she volunteers.
Another volunteer, Audrey Byrd, has been volunteering since 2002.
“I lost my husband (in hospice care) and I enjoy it (volunteering) and have wonderful companionships. I sit with them and keep them company. One I have now just wants someone to sit with. I love her. My problem is I get too attached,” Byrd says.
Fran Hatcher has been a volunteer for about a decade, she estimates as she tries to remember the time frame that she started.
“I retired from DSS (Department of Social Services) and I like to be useful so I signed up,” Hatcher says, “I wanted to help others and not concentrate on myself.”
“Volunteers get as much out of it as patients do,” she says.
Glenda Wood has been volunteering for a few years now, although she concentrates in the Saluda County area.
“I came and applied. I didn’t want to devote time to myself. I wanted to help others,” said Wood.
Wood also commends the hospice staff at Palmetto Health because they are so “knowledgeable.”
Wood’s brother was in hospice and the volunteer who helped him out was Johnnie Mae Baxter, who was unable to attend.
However, Baxter’s friends, Serphine and Sharon Willingham, came for her. Baxter has volunteered for 10 years now.
“This is her job. She likes helping others. She’s a loving person, very caring,” said Sharon Willingham.
Another volunteer, Marsha DeRosier, has been volunteering for about a year and a half and she helps in the Newberry and Columbia area.
Since DeRosier lives in Little Mountain and works in Columbia, she opts to help out at both locations.
DeRosier likes the non-profit idea, she says.
Her volunteerism stems from her dad who was in hospice care and she says, “It was so helpful to have hospice people around. I figured if I could do something to fill in the gap, I would.”