Submitted photo: During the last week of school, the Ivy Tech Community College-Lawrenceburg nursing students who had taken a new course organized by the college and Highpoint Health Hospice met one last time with their professors and Hospice representatives. Seated in front are students Sarah Cundiff, Kay Lynam, Kendall Schlemmer, Jenny Prather, Desiree Hussey and Jillian Gutapfel. In the back are Professor Holly Hinkle, Hospice volunteer Kris Meinert, Highpoint Health Hospice Bereavement Counselor Rev. Patti Warning, Professor Lucille Sullivan and students Cody Deerberg, Kate Drake, Jenny Geers, Sara Sams, Rhonda Savage, Kasey Pretty, Morgan Cady, Khristine Handy, Cortny Schuman, Austin Franz, Professor Katy Morton and Professor Jane Becker.
New hospice course is a joint effort
Working with Hospice patients can be an emotional experience, but it can also be very rewarding.
For the 2018-19 academic year, the Highpoint Health Home Health & Hospice Department worked with the Nursing Department at Ivy Tech Community College-Lawrenceburg to design a credited course for nursing students on working with Hospice patients and their families.
As part of the college’s Nursing Complex Medical Surgical Curriculum, the course was the brainchild of the Rev. Patti Warning, Highpoint Health Hospice Bereavement Counselor.
“In May 2018, I began praying about how I could connect with Ivy Tech Community College and find students to volunteer for Hospice,” recalled Warning. “Having been introduced to Tamara Schwing, Program Chair and Associate Professor of Nursing, and Jane Becker, Assistant Professor of Nursing, at Ivy Tech, I wanted to work with them to find a way to add Hospice training to the school’s course schedule.”
Becker already was aware that her students were not provided sufficient information about Hospice, including how to recognize when its services were needed by patients and families, and she wanted the students to receive hands-on training in that area.
In addition, she wished to include information that Hospice was a comprehensive program which offers visits by a social worker, counselor, clergy and nursing services including pain management and palliative care.
Bereavement services are also part of Hospice care and can last up to 13 months after the patient’s death.
The course began in February 2019, and the students shadowed both Highpoint Health nurses and Warning. Each student did eight hours of online training, two hours of one-on-one training with Warning and a minimum of four hours of volunteering, most exceeding those hours.
They volunteered by visiting patients and families, helping in the Highpoint Health Hospice office and delivering flowers to patients. The students also worked on a folder filled with information about funeral planning, as well as grief resources and support groups.
“Rev. Warning made volunteering for the students very easy by offering them a variety of volunteer opportunities,” said Becker.
“All of the students were able to work it into their schedules. Course work by the students included writing about their experiences and discussing it with their professors.”
Students who completed the course were: Jenny Geers and Rhonda Savage of Batesville; Kendall Schlemmer of Bright; Morgan Cady, Sarah Cundiff, Kate Drake, Austin Franz, Jillian Gutapfel, Khristine Handy, Desiree Hussey, Kay Lynam, Jenny Prather, Kasey Pretty and Cortny Schuman of Lawrenceburg; Cody Deerberg of Metamora; and Sara Sams of Sunman.
In addition to Mrs. Becker, the students’ instructors included Holly Hinkle, Program Chair and Associate Professor of Nursing; Katy Morton, Assistant Professor of Nursing, and Lucille Sullivan, Assistant Professor of Nursing. Helping Rev. Warning was her volunteer assistant, Kris Meinert of Versailles.
“It turned out to be a wonderful semester with Ivy Tech nursing students and their amazing professors. By April the students’ volunteer time totaled 199 hours! Not only did we meet our goals, we exceeded them,” Rev. Warning added. “All of the students who participated in this project said they enjoyed it and they would like to continue to volunteer for Hospice.”
The course will be offered again in January 2020.