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From Candy Striper to CNA: Meet Teena Mowery

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teena mowery, cna

Employee Spotlight

At 12 years-old Teena Mowery from Shippensburg learned she loved to help others while working as a candy striper at a local hospital. This experience led Teena to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) when she was only 16. Today she proudly works as a CNA for Homeland HomeCare, which has provided a continuum of care for countless clients and their families since its origination six years ago.

Over the past year Teena has worked solely with one client with Parkinson’s disease who resides near Hershey. Through her extended time with the client and his family, she has formed a strong and trusted bond.

“I look forward to seeing him,” Teena says. “I know I can make his day better because he has 100 percent of my time and focus.”

CNAs play a critical role on the HomeCare team as they are trained to notice changes in a client’s health condition, which a caregiver may not recognize. This attention to detail along with support of day-to-day activities provides safety and security for individuals in their care.

During an average day, Teena assists her client with bathing, dressing, feeding and light housekeeping tasks. Her extended time with one client has helped Teena develop a routine, which provides comfort to her client and his wife who also serves as a caregiver.

Recently, Teena helped her client enjoy dinner at a restaurant with his wife and family. While his speech is limited, he shared a touching moment with her.

“He said I love you,” Teena shares. “I know his words meant he is grateful for my support.”

Homeland’s HomeCare services can help improve a client’s quality of life while living safely in his/her home. HomeCare also benefits the primary caregiver who may be unable to perform the daily tasks required to help his/her loved one. This support also gives caregivers a brief respite from the emotional pressures of caring for a loved one.

While many of us can learn the skills needed to work as a CNA, the compassion and empathy for others cannot be taught. This comes from the heart, making the profession a labor of love.

“My clients and coworkers are extended family members,” Teena adds. “I love what I do.”

For more information on Homeland HomeCare call 717-221-7892.

Homeland Hospice Staff Member Earns Advance Certification: Meet Angie Smyser

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angie smyser, homeland hospice social worker

After four years as a social worker with Homeland Hospice and nearly two decades of working in the profession, Angie Smyser has earned her certification as a licensed clinical social worker, which refers to social workers who have obtained their master’s degree in social work and completed the requirements in their state to obtain their professional license. Angie is the first person at the organization to achieve this accreditation. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Social workers are an integral part of Homeland’s team of support. They work with nurses, counselors, home health aides, physicians and others to provide comprehensive support to patients and their families. Social workers assess the emotional dynamics of a household and help families face their concerns during a patient’s end-of-life journey.

“Social and emotional issues come along with health issues,” says Mary Peters, MSW, assistant director of social services at Homeland Hospice. “Social workers bring these components together to best serve our patients.”

As a licensed clinical social worker, Angie can now both meet the immediate needs facing families and dive deeper into counseling to help patients and their loved ones overcomes emotional barriers to finding peace.

For Angie, helping people involves looking at the behaviors and emotions at the surface as well as what is kept private and only shared after earning one’s trust.

“We all have layers to our emotions,” Angie says, “Dealing with the imminent death of a loved one often brings out unresolved feelings and issues.”

Through her training, Angie has learned to approach issues through a clinical lens to see how she might help patients and family members deal with the root causes of issues. Finding productive solutions to problems while family members have the opportunity to communicate often lessens the burden of grief after the passing of a loved one.

To earn her license, Angie completed 150 clinical hours with an experienced licensed clinical social worker who served as a mentor. Angie participated in individual and group sessions monthly or more frequently for more than four years. This was followed by a comprehensive exam, which she passed in August.

“Homeland is fortunate to have Angie’s skill set,” Mary says. “We can now bring an additional level of support to our patients and families.”

For Angie, the driving force behind her interest in earning her certification is her eagerness to help families when they need it most.

“Sometimes people just want to be heard,” Angie says. “I’m honored to help families in their time of need.”

To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

 

A Career of Empathy and Kindness: Debbie Klinger to Retire from Homeland Hospice

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Debbie Klinger - Retired RN and Homeland Hospice DirectorAt the end of February, Debbie Klinger, RN and Director of Homeland Hospice, retired following her nearly eight-year career with the organization. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

During her tenure, Debbie has strived to embody the heart and soul of the hospice mission while working with patients and families. Through her leadership, she has created a team that practices empathy and kindness while delivering the highest quality care.

Debbie knew she wanted to be a nurse early in life. She learned she was accepted into Geisinger Medical Hospital’s School of Nursing on the same day she learned she was expecting her first child. Debbie put her aspirations of a nursing career aside while she raised her children. When her sons reached their teenage years, Debbie decided to begin her nursing education.

“I became a student as a single mother at age 38,” Debbie says. “My passion for nursing never waned and my determination to achieve my goal grew stronger.”

After working many years in management with other hospices, Debbie joined Homeland Hospice as the Assistant Director of Clinical Services. She later advanced into her current position. While Debbie has been part of many successful projects and events, her legacy is the creation of strong teams committed to consistent and compassionate care.

“I’m proud to work with a team of dedicated professionals who believe the patient comes first,” Debbie adds. “I believe this is the hallmark of our organization.”

Kris Crockett Portrait - Our TeamOne of those dedicated team members, Kris Crockett, RN and Assistant Director of Clinical Services of Homeland Hospice, will move into Debbie’s role. Kris has been part of the Homeland team for more than nine years. She started as an on-call weekend nurse and began working as the assistant director of clinical services in 2017.

Over the past few years, Kris has worked tirelessly to reduce the organization’s pharmacy costs while continuing the highest quality of care. This process has included daily research of the cost of prescriptions along with educating the hospice team about medication changes.

Like Debbie, Kris believes in building strong teams by focusing on the mission of the organization while never losing sight of the little things about the job, which can culminate into a big difference.

“Our nurses often check in with one another during stressful times,” Kris says. “These small acts of kindness aren’t in their job description, but build lasting bonds between team members.”

As Debbie’s retirement nears, her commitment to Homeland Hospice will continue. Debbie and Kris are proactive planners who are committed to working together as a team to ensure the transition is seamless.

“I’m proud of my years with Homeland,” Debbie says. “I’m confident Kris will continue to lead the organization with vision and compassion.”

Homeland Hospice serves 14 counties throughout central Pennsylvania, providing end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland staff is closely involved as death approaches and may be present at the time of death. This is one of hospice’s greatest strengths – helping the patient and loved ones cope as a person approaches life’s end.

To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Homeland’s Bereavement Team Offers Comprehensive and Compassionate Support

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Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW - Bereavement Team

Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW

Learning how to navigate the unchartered waters of grief after the death of a loved one requires a strong support system and the development of coping mechanisms to find hope for the future. Homeland Hospice provides a holistic approach to grief support using a team of compassionate counselors. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Recently, Homeland Hospice reorganized its bereavement counseling team after longtime counselor Brian Medkeff-Rose retired after 28 years of service. Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW, now serves as the lead bereavement counselor and Alexis Conkle, MSW, provides administrative support while Noelle mentors her to learn the hands-on demands of the job. Alexis looks forward to taking on counseling duties as her time with Homeland progresses.

For Noelle and Alexis, the team partnership and their shared dedication to Homeland provides a strong foundation to help patients and families during their grief journey.

“Bereavement support is rewarding work,” Noelle says. “I’m humbled by the strength and compassion I learn from every family.”

While the steps of grief may form a pattern to healing, everyone’s process and timing is tied to his/her personal story. Through the shared understanding of loss, many people find comfort in Homeland’s bereavement support groups, while the individual process of handling heartache can often best be addressed through individual counseling. The duality of support needed on a pathway through grief is why Homeland offers one-on-one consultations and support groups.

While Alexis is new to her role, she has been part of the Homeland team since 2018 when she started as an intern. After earning her degree, Alexis was a social worker with Homeland before transitioning to the hospice bereavement team.

Alexis Konkle, MSW - Bereavement Team

Alexis Conkle, MSW

“I look forward to working directly with families and helping them through the challenges of grief,” Alexis says. “I admire the strong bonds the Homeland team forms with families, as it makes this work a calling and not a job.”

For many people, the grieving process has become more difficult because of social distancing measures in place through the COVID-19 pandemic. Noelle connects with clients via phone calls instead of in-person visits. During these calls, she not only focuses on the grief caused by loss, but the added loneliness of isolation.

During the winter months, Homeland’s popular men’s breakfast series and women’s luncheon series have been placed on hold. During the summer months, the groups met outside where they could socially distance and still spend time with one another.

For many people, comfort is found through the consistency of these support groups. It’s not uncommon for strong friendships to form during this time together. Support group sessions focus on the various stages and aspects of grief. Most importantly, the meetings provide a safe space for people to be around others who understand what they are experiencing.

Noelle and Alexis find their new partnership to be a rewarding learning experience. As Alexis learns new components of her position, her questions and observations spark a new perspective in Noelle. Together, the team is committed to providing the most comprehensive support possible.

“We understand healing takes time,” Noelle and Alexis remark. “We will walk with you through your bereavement journey.”

Homeland Hospice’s bereavement support program is available to the bereaved of Homeland’s patients as well as anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

To learn more, please contact Noelle Valentine at Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.