What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. For Judy, it meant 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 Judy.

Judy Hendry has served critically-ill patients and their families for 28 years, first in a hospital, then in a nephrology practice and finally with Hospice of the Red River Valley. Early in her career, Judy was often surrounded by people in need and loved to opportunity to comfort the very sick and make them look and feel great. Because of this, Judy thought she would one day become a hospice volunteer when she retired, but hospice came into her life early when she saw an opening for a registered nurse with hospice.  Here she shares what that job means to her:

I love my job! Being a hospice nurse is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. It’s very humbling. I look at it as an honor to go into people’s homes, wherever their home may be, during such an important point in their lives. People are vulnerable at the end of their lives and to let us into their homes and their lives at that time is pretty amazing. This is the best job I’ve ever had. It will be my last job because I don’t want to do anything else.

I’ve learned a lot about what hospice can do for families—keeping people comfortable and letting them die with dignity. We all have people getting older and have to deal with different struggles. It made me look at my life and my family. Working at Hospice of the Red River Valley has helped open up the dialogue about death with my parents and family. For a lot of people the topic does not come easy. I have a big immediate family, and I bring it up all of the time. It makes some people uncomfortable, but we talk about it anyway.

The most common thing I am told is, “We wish we would have called hospice sooner.” I often tell people nobody is ever happy to see me walk through the door because I’m not just “Judy,” I’m “Hospice.” But by the time I leave, there is usually such a sense of relief because there is help. It’s different than any other medical care. There is a time and a place for everything. This is our area of expertise. I tell people it’s a hard phone call to make, but after that first visit, they realize they have someone to call and they are not alone.

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.