August 2007

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                         Duke Hospice Volunteer Newsletter
                                          August 2007
From our director: Never just a volunteer…

       I will always remember the first time I heard a person describe themselves as ―just a
volunteer.‖ At first I was surprised to hear that coming from the person, because have never felt
that people who give freely of their time, talent and resources as ―just a volunteer.‖ In my mind
people that give of themselves to make a difference in the life of others or in the interest of an
organization, are in fact very gracious and kind people. They are the people that the rest of us
look upon and say what a wonderful individual and I wish I could be more like him/her.

       I had the opportunity to speak to a group of new volunteers at their training in Raleigh. In
case you haven’t heard, I am somewhat of a guru when it comes to the regulations and
standards of hospice Medicare. After all these years, I can site the condition of participation and
the current interpretation of the standard. Other than making me a very unexciting person,
knowing that stuff has served me well over the years. At the training I shared that in 1984 when
the Hospice Medicare Benefit became law; there was a very unusual standard within the body
of regulations. That condition states that at least 5% of the total care of a hospice patient must
be provided by community-based trained volunteers.

       How insightful those members of the Congress were at the time. To the best of my
knowledge, it is the only form of federal health reimbursement that requires and recognizes the
value of community volunteers. It both separates hospice from other providers of health care
that engages those in the community to contribute of themselves. I want you to know that I will
always affirm and appreciate volunteers. Whenever you want to review the impact of any
community service organization, look at their utilization of volunteers, you can then determine
the real impact. So there is no such thing as ―just a volunteer!‖ You allow us to both meet and
exceed the goals of our impact. Without you, we would be just another part of health. Thanks to
you, we are far more.

Ron D. Thompson

Watch for your invitation: Come one, come all! In late August we will have a ―Meet and
Greet‖ brunch to introduce our new Duke Hospice Director, Ron Thompson, to all our
volunteers. Ron has 20 years of hospice experience and looks forward to a chance to talk with
you about his vision for our hospice as well as to explain the ―Open Access‖ concept that will
bring hospice service to new patients quicker than ever. This event will also give you a chance
to catch up with some of your hospice friends and exchange information on our new programs.
Welcome to our Lilly Foundation fellow/intern Anita Petit-Homme. Anita comes to us
through the Duke Pathways program, which supports Duke undergrads and recent graduates in
discerning vocations to the helping professions. Anita is a first generation American of Haitian
descent from southern Florida. In the summer of 2004 she studied
in Ghana and Togo where she conducted independent research.
Since then she has volunteered as a behavioral health technician at
an inpatient psychiatric facility for children, as well as working as a
Heads Up AmeriCorps volunteer at an inner city elementary school
and as a volunteer for the Genocide Intervention Network. During
her academic year tenure with hospice, Anita will train and serve as
a patient care volunteer and coordinate the Gift of Words program.
A gathering will be scheduled for sometime in September to introduce Anita to the heart of Duke
Hospice—our volunteers. Keep an eye open for your invitation.

Check out the Volunteer Services webpage for the newest Volunteer Spotlight. This month’s
volunteer in the spotlight is Betty Moody (aka The Candy Lady). Betty has spread her candy
and cheer, homegrown tomatoes and attentive care to hospice patients in two local nursing
homes for five years. For the rest of the scoop on Betty, go to And many thanks to Martha
Brunstein who writes our Spotlights. If you know of a hospice volunteer you think the rest of us
should know more about, contact Carolyn and she’ll get Martha on the job!!

Hip, hip, hooooray! for our very own Sarah Woodard!! Sarah recently received the 2007
Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award. This award is given to an individual who has
demonstrated extraordinary leadership and service to the Durham community. As many of you
know, part of Sarah’s leadership and service has been through our hospice for the past 14
years. Many thanks to Sarah for her generous gifts of self and to Duke Energy for the wisdom to
recognize them.

Do you ever see these announcements about volunteer awards and think, ―You know,
somebody ought to give an award to the hospice nurse (or chaplain or . . .) I’m working with.
She’s/he’s a real hero!!‖ The Strength, Hope & Caring Awards are intended for just this
situation: These quarterly awards recognize the Duke HomeCare and Hospice staff and
                    managers who inspire us all; demonstrate special, compassionate care;
                    demonstrate a personal, outstanding commitment to our patients and
                    colleagues; or make a significant difference in one patient / family /
                    colleagues’ experience. Consider sending in a story about strength:
                    someone you notice lifting another to get through difficult times; supporting
                    us; projecting confidence in the face of adversity; remaining positive in
                    difficult times; listening and acting in compassion; contributing to the team
                    environment; or supporting learning and development of self and others. Or
perhaps a staffer has impressed you with his/her sense of hope: touching lives, answering
questions, shining a ray of light in difficult times, encouraging patients to improve their own
situations, encouraging others in any way. Or you’ve heard from a patient or family member
about a staffer’s exceptional example of caring: going beyond the routine, stepping in for a
colleague at a key moment. Think of a specific story or a series of stories about your nominee
and contact Duke HomeCare and Hospice human resources for a nomination form and
guidelines at or 919-620-3853

Our next bimonthly staff/volunteer memorial service will be Thursday, August 2 at 8:30 a.m.
at the Unicorn Bereavement Center. This observance remembers our patients who passed in
June and July and helps us honor our work and our grief. Please come and share this time with
others who understand what it costs you to do this work. RSVP to Carolyn if you plan to attend.

If you missed the Jewish EOL issues seminar at Duke’s Institute on Care at the End of Life, you
may still be interested in the book. Rabbi Mark A. Popovsky’s Jewish Ritual, Reality and
Response at the End of Life: A Guide to Caring for Jewish Patients and Families is now
available through the ICEOL for $18.00. This guide introduces Jewish beliefs and practices
around illness, death, and loss, and provides practical suggestions for responding to the
sometimes complicated situations where the clinical, religious, and cultural are entwined.
Stories included throughout make this little guide offer both a valuable resource for patient care
and an interesting exploration of Judaism’s rich traditions. For ordering information, visit or call 919-660-3553 or e-mail

Continuing Education opportunity coming up: Thursday, August 9th, 2:00–3:30 p.m., Durham
office, an audio web seminar: Calming the Storm: Addressing Terminal Restlessness.
Offered by Jennifer Reidy, Joanne Nowak, and Suzana Makowski—all hospice medical
directors. Agitation and delirium at the end of life are common and distressing conditions. The
terms used to describe these conditions can be confusing and may lead to misdiagnosis and
improper treatment. This seminar will address the scope of the problem in hospice, and the
importance of preventing medication-induced delirium. The physicians will review assessment of
delirium within the context of goals of care and prognosis, as well as the use of pharmacologic
and complementary therapies. Because some volunteers work with patients who have terminal
restlessness, you may find this discussion both interesting and useful.

Daytime volunteer training will be offered beginning in September in the
Durham/Orange County area. If you know someone with some time to give to the
dying of their community and their families, someone you have always thought
would be just perfect as a hospice volunteer, suggest that they call Carolyn or
check out our Duke Hospice website: Current
volunteers who would like to update their skills are also welcome to attend. Call for          an

              Do you ever see articles on the internet or in a magazine that you think other
              hospice volunteers might enjoy? Did you see the recent article about Oscar, the
              Hospice Cat that predicts patients’ deaths? A number of our volunteers did and
              thought it was worth passing along. If you see an article or a book you would like
              to share with other volunteers, please send the information to Carolyn. She can’t
              pass along everything she gets, but Oscar was worth a mention. The AP article
              can be found at
              The original essay in the New England Journal of Medicine can be found at

During the months of August, September, and October, DHCH will exhibit at several events:
CenterFest, United Way, and State Employee campaigns. Development and Marketing are
looking for volunteers who will partner with us at these events. The volunteer will help staff the
DHCH display booth, answer questions about DHCH services, hand out educational materials,
and talk about volunteer opportunities. A DHCH Development or Marketing staff member will be
present at all events. The hours will vary from event to event, but most events only last 1 to 2
hours. The August newsletter will list the upcoming exhibit opportunities with dates and times. If
you are interested, please contact Tricia Christie at 919-620-3853 ext. 253.

Surveyors could be here at any time. Wear your badge, wash your hands, send in your reports
weekly (in ink), including documentation for phone calls and declined visits. You know the usual.

Our Care Blanket Pilot Program for children of Duke Hospice
patients is off to a great start. Several volunteers are creating blankets
to be given to children of our hospice patients. The program is starting
with children of patients at our Inpatient Care Facility and will expand,
if we receive enough blankets, to children of all our hospice patients.

One recent Saturday morning at the Durham office, Anne Weston
conducted a Care Blanket workshop for hospice volunteers. In two
hours, and fortified by Carolyn’s homemade coffee cake, three novice
blanketeers produced three ADORABLE! no-sew fleece blankets. They left with printed
instructions and enough confidence to make more and teach others.

Samantha Gasson has offered to lead workshops for interested groups. If this is a project you
would be interested in or know a group who would like to be involved (family reunion attendees,
a scout troop, shut-ins, ladies week at the beach), please contact Carolyn Colsher at 919-620-
3859 ext 235 or to schedule a training session. You and the kids will
be glad you did.

                       Weather forecasters are expecting up to 17 tropical storms and hurricanes by
                       the end of the hurricane season, which began June 1 and will end Nov. 30.
                       During bad weather, we encourage you to put your safety first. If you need to
                       reschedule a visit because of weather, call your patient or the caregiver and
                       set up a new time. Do not feel obligated to venture out in a storm. Our
                       volunteers are too valuable to risk having them blown away.

                  A RESOURCE FOR YOU . . . Continuing Education for August

 Our volunteer library has a wealth of valuable books on a number of hospice-related
 subjects. This month’s BookNotes covers Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of
 Life by Ira Byock, MD.

For more information please contact:

                           Carolyn Colsher, DHCH Volunteer Services Supervisor
                         (919) 620-3859 ext 235 or email

―Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will
turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, no matter how it turns out.‖

                                                                    --Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

     And thank you, as always, for everything you do for our patients and families. Carolyn

    Mission Statement: Duke HomeCare and Hospice will provide innovative, thoughtful care, using an interdisciplinary team
             approach, to achieve the best possible outcomes for the patients, families and communities we serve .


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