Article captured spirit of hospice care

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Thank you to The Augusta Chronicle and staff photographer Rainier Ehrhardt for the article featuring one of our nurses and patients ("Going gently," Nov. 29).

It was an appropriate story during National Hospice Month to highlight not only Kerstin Staten but the many caring professionals -- nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, bereavement coordinators, volunteer coordinators and countless volunteers -- who have chosen hospice as their lives' careers.

One of the goals of the story was to show that, contrary to what many think about death and dying, a career in hospice is one of the most rewarding in the field of health care. This article, along with everything we do, is a part of fulfilling the wishes of families who are facing the end of life. The family featured in the article has kept a journal of the journey of their loved one through this "valley of the shadow." Thank you for printing it while she is still able to see her story in the newspaper.

I do need to make one clarification stated in the article. This family, like a majority of the families we serve, desire to spend their last days in the comfort of their home, not in the hospital. That is the goal of hospice: to grant patients and families their wishes concerning end of life care, free of pain and with dignity. Most people choose to die at home, surrounded by family, loved ones and friends. Many hospices are privileged to be able to provide a homelike, inpatient setting in their facilities for those who do not want to die at home.

The two most intimate times in our lives are birth and death. On behalf of all hospice professionals, thank you, CSRA, for allowing us to walk with you, become parts of your families and make those journeys a little easier. Hospice is not about dying; it is about living life to the fullest, as long as possible.

Thomas Smith, Augusta

(The writer is administrator of Heartland Hospice in Augusta.)


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