SOMC Hospice gives patient the ride of her lifePosted on 08/02/2019

Virginia Hammond is a patient at SOMC Hospice, and there’s something she wants people to know about her experience with end-of-life care: She loves it.

“I’ve always thought, if you’re going to stand up for something you’ve got to put your face out there and you’ve got to let other people know about it,” she said. “I tell people in the store about this!”

Virginia said she felt that way almost immediately, but her feelings have managed to grow even stronger with time.

“I think it’s great. I have friends here. They love me, they cry with me, they talk to me… They really make you feel like somebody.”

That relationship is why she was not surprised at all when her friends at hospice made one of her dreams come true during the 2019 Hospice Memorial Ride. She is used to them taking care of her and even compares their treatment of her to the way one might look after their child. So, when she expressed a desire to actually ride in the event, there was little question that they would make it happen.

Before the riders left SOMC’s East Campus, Virginia was helped onto the back of a motorcycle and driven around the parking lot. As someone who grew up riding motorcycles, it was an important experience to check off her list. After the event, staff gifted her a photo of the moment and it was quickly put on display in her room.

It’s that compassion and thoughtfulness that endears SOMC Hospice to so many people. It’s why the program draws huge crowds at Hike for Hospice and the Hospice Memorial Ride. It’s why the community donated $3 million so the facilities could be renovated and expanded.

And it’s why patients like Virginia Hammond come to regard the staff not as her caregivers, but as her friends. She’s even added them on Facebook.

“I come over here and it’s like, wow! They’re so glad to see me,” Virginia said. “It’s like we’re really good friends.”

As in any good relationship, though, Virginia also keeps in mind how the experience must be for those on the other side. She expressed sympathy for her nurses, understanding the emotional impact of forging deep connections with patients receiving end-of-life care. To her, it’s just another example of the quality of their character.

“They take a lot of it in stride because they have to,” she said. “I feel for them. I have empathy for them… It takes a special person to do this. They’re going to have to be soft. And warm. And cuddly.”

They have to be the kind of person to make a patient feel so loved that they want to tell everyone they meet, even the ones they just come across in the store.

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