There are careers and then there are callings. For nurses at Homeland entering the profession is not based on earning potential or job benefits; it is founded on a passion to help others. From caring for residents at Homeland Center to home visits, nurses have a unique and extraordinary opportunity to change a patient’s life and be by their side to assist with their health care needs. Through their time together, nurses form friendships and unshakable bonds with patients and their families.
Two of Homeland’s outstanding and compassionate nurses include Hannah Miller and Cathy Whiteside, who serve hospice patients and their families. Their personal story’s of human connection through their work mirror those of Homeland’ impressive nursing staff.
Hannah Miller, BSN, RN has been a nurse with Homeland Hospice for more than four years. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Prior to working for Homeland, Hannah was an intensive care nurse (ICU). Her time with patients was limited, and she found herself drawn to those she couldn’t save. When her patients were facing their final days, she wanted to be by their side.
“I realized I had a calling for end-of-life care,” Hannah says. “Becoming a hospice nurse is the most rewarding decision of my life.”
For hospice nurses like Hannah, every day starts with a routine of scheduled visits but plans easily change based on the health challenges of patients. Finding the balance between these two important priorities keeps each day different than the one before and allows nurses to be there for patients and their families when help is needed most.
“I get to know my patients through my work,” Hannah adds. “By knowing their interests and personalities, I strive to bring them peace at the end.”
In December, Hannah was caring for an elderly gentleman in his final days of life. Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, his extended family was unable to be by his side. Hannah helped arrange for his friends and family to sing Christmas carols outside of his window. With his limited mobility, he managed a small smile and whispered “thank you” to Hannah. The patient died that night.
“I’ll never forget that precious moment,” Hannah says. “I believe he changed my life far more than I could ever change his.”
After years of working in the field as a nurse, Cathy Whiteside, RN, BSN, recently moved in the role of assistant director of clinical services for Homeland Hospice. In this role, she supervises the nursing staff, helps with training and fills in when needed with patients. Through her nursing tenure, she has seen first-hand the demand for nurses increase to keep pace with the aging demographic of the region.
“The need for nurses has never been greater,” Cathy says. “This demand is an opportunity for people to enter a rewarding career.”
Like Hannah, Cathy fondly remembers the relationships she formed during her many years working with patients. As a native of Harrisburg, she often personally knew her patients from her church or neighborhood.
“My presence brought my patients an added level of comfort,” Cathy adds. “It was a privilege to care for them in their final days.”
The past year has challenged nurses everywhere as social distancing measures prevented many family members from comforting their dying loved ones. The Homeland team acted with added creativity and compassion to fill the void many patients faced.
“I am so proud of my fellow nurses at Homeland,” Hannah says. “They have done an amazing job caring for patients and one another.”
To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.