What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. For Abbi, it means making patients and their families feel cared for, comfortable, and dignified.  As Medicare’s first coordinated care model, we must protect the Medicare Hospice Benefit for nurses like Abbi.

Abbi Bentz is a registered nurse and VITAS® Healthcare Paw Pals® volunteer, which connects pets and their volunteer parents with hospice patients in nursing homes, assisted living communities and private homes. These Paw Pal visits offer a welcome distraction from illness and help people feel a little less lonely.

After spending some time with a VITAS patient, Roy Johnson, Abbi realized he was clearly an avid horse enthusiast and reached out to a friend with a small horse farm to arrange a visit.  Here Abbi shares what it was like to watch Roy meet Colin the horse:

Watching Roy, and the way he moves his hands, his facial expressions, and his body movements, it’s like he’s reliving these experiences inside his head. While he’s talking about horses it’s like watching the past happen.

There was a moment when Colin put his head down beside Roy, and they were smelling each other, literally nostril to nostril. Knowing horses and how they interact with people, I could tell Colin just knew Roy was a horse person.

I’ve done a lot of volunteer work throughout my life. When you’re working with a patient who is facing the end of life, and they share their limited time with you, and share their stories—it’s very special. I take it very seriously to know that, in some way, I help them live on through the memories we make together and the memories they share.

We invite you to keep promoting the power of hospice by joining the My Hospice campaign. Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter or share your My Hospice story with us.