The candles on the cake read 5-0-0. It wasn’t for my age – or the number of years I served in the National Guard. It was to celebrate the number of hours I had served patients at Ionia Area Hospice & Stoneleigh Residence.
You see, in 2015 my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As a Nurse Practitioner, I flew back home and stayed by her side to help with her care. It was then I had a chance to see for myself the power of hospice care in action. It felt so natural to see life come full circle. The hospice team not only cared for Mom, they helped our whole family during her end-of-life journey.
Soon after my mom passed away, it seemed like every day I would see an email, article or advertisement for hospice. This went on for months! A light bulb finally went off in my head and I realized that my life’s path was leading me towards hospice.
I’d always been curious about what happened to my patients after they were placed on hospice care. Many were people I had known for years and followed through all stages of their lives. I now realized this was a new way I could serve them. I picked up the phone and contacted Ionia Area Hospice.
Right away, I could tell the team at Ionia Area Hospice & Stoneleigh Residence, was different. As a retired Lt. Colonel in the National Guard, our motto is: “Always Ready. Always There”. As a non-profit, community hospice, one of the first things they ask when meeting with patients and families is, “What do YOU want? What are YOUR goals?” “We are here to help you.” Together, our philosophies fit perfectly.
It takes real courage to stand up to your doctors and family and make your needs and wishes known. It took a lot of courage and commitment for me to follow my heart and make the time to take the first steps towards earning hospice certification while working full-time and raising two daughters.
It also takes courage to ask for others for help. But after 500 volunteer hours, I’ve realized that we cannot do this work without help from YOU and support from OUR community.
- We need YOUR help to be available to anyone who needs hospice care, no matter their age, location or ability to pay.
- We need YOUR help to cover the costs of extra nursing visits when a patient develops new symptoms or has a pain crisis.
- We need YOUR help to offset the costs of running Stoneleigh Residence so patients who cannot be cared for at home are safe and comfortable.
- We need YOUR help to close the gap between what insurance covers and the true cost of doing what is right for each patient.
You see, not only do our patients need my help – they also need yours!
I joined the National Guard because I wanted to give of my time and talents to help others during times of crisis. I have now learned that there is a crisis in funding for non-profit hospice care. I am making it my personal mission to help Ionia Area Hospice & Stoneleigh Residence during a very difficult time.
At the end of my 500 hours, Ionia Area Hospice asked me, “What do YOU want, Julie?”
I said, “I am ready. I want to stay at Ionia Area Hospice.” Now I am continuing my service as one of their Nurse Practitioners.
Please join me by supporting Ionia Area Hospice & Stoneleigh with a gift today. Together we can make a difference!
Lt. Col. Julie Coenen, NP