In Memory of Melanie Collins
I learned this week of the death of a dear colleague, Melanie Collins, RN, BSN. In December 2016 I wrote a Blog about Melanie that is also in my book Creating A Culture of Care: Inspiration and Insights from a Hospice Leader.
To honor Melanie I'd like to share excerpts of that story here today.
In hospice, we don’t have anything to sell other than the services we provide. We don’t make a product; we don’t offer goods or trade. What we offer is love and care to people who are dying, and to their loved ones. Generally, the first order of hospice business is relieving someone’s physical suffering. It can be more challenging to relieve someone’s spiritual and emotional suffering who ask the unanswerable question, “Why me?”. It’s our calling to ease this human sufferingby caring for our fellow beings and empowering them to live their lives fully until...
Have you noticed all of the “noise” in your life lately? The constant chatter on emails, texting, Face Book, Twitter, political debates, talk radio and talking head news, it is endless. It seems everyone is talking but is anyone really listening? Social media offers so many options to “connect” with anyone, anywhere, anytime that a conversation now consists of emojis or single letters vs words.
While it’s wonderful to instantly send off a text or email to a friend or colleague for quick interactions, yet at the end of the day, how meaningful are those exchanges? Are you reminiscing about the beautiful text you received and how it made you feel as you’re falling asleep at night? Or are you feeling frustrated because your in-box is overflowing, and you don’t have time or energy to respond to everyone who wants something from you?
Many of my clients have the problem of staff “over-sharing” emails. ...
Has your summer flown by? School’s in session already, Gator football has begun, and Hurricane season is in full swing. The big Labor Day arrival of Hurricane Dorian in my home state Florida has everyone on edge.
With Floridian’s anxiety meters shifting from low gear to high, it’s easy to begin to dread what this storm might bring. In addition to all the usual storm prep of batteries, water and cans of tuna in the cupboard, and an evacuation plan, it's also important to stay emotionally balanced. I begin by asking myself three questions:
Yesterday I could feel my anxiety rising as the gas stations were running out of fuel and news stations were showing the horrific devastation this storm could bring. I had to stop, and consider my intent, “I want to be calm in the storm”. No matter what storm arrives, Mother Nature’s fury or a personal or...
When We Give a Little Too Much
“It’s better to give than receive”: As noble an ideal as that is, there’s a limit to giving that too many of us involved in caregiving choose to ignore. Where does it lead us?
Those of us in healthcare and other service fields have been taught that giving is honorable and receiving is selfish. So, we give of our time, our money, our wisdom, our ideas and our love without restriction or any overt expectation of return. It feels so good to give, seeing the smiling and grateful faces of those we serve is the reward in itself.
But what about the other side of that equation? What happens when it’s time to receive? Is receiving as easy and pleasurable as the giving side? Very often the answer is no. We are taught to continually push past our limits, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. When we are given a compliment or accolades for a job well done, our automatic reply is “it was nothing” and deflect the gift....
"People facing death can be our greatest teachers. Their lessons may not come with lightning speed or in conventional ways. But they often come straight from the heart, and are more lasting than any other lessons we can learn"
Patti Moore, APRN, RN
This quote is from my book No Mission No Margin: Creating A Successful Hospice With Care and Competence and it jumped out at me today. My 35 years of hospice work has exposed me to many, many people who knew they are facing death. Each person gave me something to add to how I wanted to LIVE my life and I say a prayer for them, my unintentional teachers.
This past weekend was filled with tragedy. I heard of my colleague and friend Kathy Brandt's death. Kathy dedicated her entire professional life to hospice and palliative care and served in many national roles. Kathy made a difference on a grand scale. When Kathy discovered she had terminal cancer she chose QUALITY...
My husband and I recently took a trip of a lifetime to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my company The Watershed Group and our 37th wedding anniversary. Starting in a small alpine village in the Austrian Alps,
then journeying to north of the Arctic circle to the Lofoten Islands off the coast of northern Norway.
We were in search of beauty and peace, tonic for our souls.
As so often happens in travel, we found much more than we were looking for. Beyond the majesty of the Alps and the wild, wind-swept beauty of Norway’s scattered islands, it was the people that we met who shine brightest in our memories of the trip; random strangers who reached out to connect with us, human to human.
There was the young customs agent from the island of Jersey who chatted with us while we waited an hour for our rental car in the Munich airport. We listened, enraptured, to his stories of life on a tiny island in the English Channel and his quest to achieve his triathlon dream in Nuremberg,...
Summer is in full swing!
Image Above: Martha's Vineyard 2018
I hope you all have fun plans for the big July 4th Birthday Celebration! Since I LOVE American History, I usually try to watch parts of the beautiful HBO mini-series on John Adams which describes the first 50 years of our young country. Then the evening of July 4th there is watching of A Capitol Fourth program on PBS with bands and singers and fireworks from the steps our nation's majestic Capital.
We do venture out for live fireworks on occasion. I love the magic of the sparkling skies and the warm summer air and the sounds of "ooh's and aah's" of the crowd as the skies light up with brilliance.
The blossoms of summer are everywhere in my hometown, crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom and our hydrangeas are bursting with blues and pinks, even on the same bush, how is that for embracing diversity!
This year we are heading out on a July vacation, something we rarely do but felt the time was right...
THE VIEW FROM THE EXAM TABLE
When was the last time you found yourself on the patient end of a healthcare interaction? While I wouldn’t recommend it, it’s certainly an educational experience, and one every one of us in healthcare could probably benefit from. A minor procedure recently renewed my perspective on what the view is like from the other side of the exam table, and I’m beginning to think that seeing it that way is something we all need a refresher course in occasionally.
When you’re a patient or a member of the patient’s family, anxiety is common You’re often nervous, unsure about what’s to come, and fearful of making the wrong choice based on the amount of information you have. No amount of late-night visiting with Mr. Google can provide you with a conclusive answer, and in fact can leave you more confused or misinformed than you were to start out with. That’s bad enough when we’re talking about relatively minor...
OUR ENDANGERED NURSES AND DOCTORS: DEPRESSION, DENIAL, AND PTSD
As a nurse myself, I’ve been following with interest the ongoing conversation about a critical issue that has gone too long unaddressed; the crisis-level suicide rates of our nurses (and doctors, too).
A recent article on the MedPage website, Nurse Suicide: Under the Radar, used as an example the suicide of Dana, a bright, energetic and hard-working ER nurse. As bad as the heartbreak experienced by her colleagues was, even more damaging was the way in which their institution handled the emotional aftermath of this woman’s death. One section of that story struck me in particular:
“The department held a debriefing after Dana's death -- a meeting to allow hospital staff to discuss a critical event -- but it was only open to those who had directly cared for Dana as a patient….
Simpson broke down crying in the nurse's lounge when she was told she could not go. She had worked during Dana's memorial...
Today is the 20th anniversary of The Watershed Group. As I look back 20 years I am reminded of the fear and exhilaration I had when I stepped away from my conventional job as the executive director of the Hospice of North Central Florida (now Haven Hospice), to go out on my own.
I loved that job and I loved the people I worked with, but my soul was saying "there’s more to do!" and I could not shake that feeling. Have you ever felt so compelled to do something that you could not turn away from it?
When we begin to trust that our inner voice has wisdom and that wisdom is guided by the Divine, no matter how you define Divinity, stepping out into the unknown is less frightening.
My journey has been just that, jumping in with both feet no matter what I’m doing. From feeling overwhelmingly compelled to build the 18-bed hospice care center in Gainesville Florida and convincing the powers that be and donors that it was the right thing to do 25+ years ago. To feeling...