“Actually, it’s one government requirement that we like because it underscores the important role that hospice volunteers play in caring for the dying and their family caregivers,” said Garry Mac, vice president of marketing for Hospice of Chattanooga.
Mac’s comments came as he stood with Teresa Kennedy of Cleveland at a Tuesday luncheon in which volunteers from Bradley and Polk counties were honored along with other Hospice of Chattanooga volunteers in the 18-county region the agency serves.
This past week was designated as National Volunteer Week.
In comments to the 300 people in attendance, Mac cited federal legislation, enacted 30 years ago, that made hospice a Medicare hospice benefit, enabling tens of millions of Americans to avail themselves of the highest quality care at life’s end from the nation’s dedicated hospice community.
Additionally, he said, this federal legislation created one of the most compassionate corps of trained volunteers seen anywhere in the health care community.
“Volunteers bring companionship to people in the final months and weeks of life, often a time when people find themselves cut off from the community, isolated and alone,” said Karen Sloan, director of volunteers for Hospice of Chattanooga.
“They (volunteers) provide respite to family members who carry the load of caring for dying loved ones while also struggling with their own grief in the situation.”
Hospice volunteers also provide support by helping in Hospice of Chattanooga’s Cleveland office on Keith Street, working with patients in local facilities or even through the pet therapy program.
“We are grateful for and celebrate our volunteers every day of the year,” said Mac, “but National Volunteer Week is our special time to celebrate all they do so we can show everyone that hospice and palliative care volunteers are, in their own way, doing the work of angels.”
Hospice began in this country over 30 years ago as a largely, volunteer-driven community movement.
Notably, Monday, April 16, was National Healthcare Decisions Day, emphasizing the importance of advance care planning. Hospice of Chattanooga is a local resource for you to gain education and understanding about advance care planning with volunteers often playing a key role in these efforts.
Sloan said there are many ways to volunteer at Hospice of Chattanooga here in Cleveland by calling the direct line to the volunteer department at 423-892-5104 or stopping by the office at 2145 Keith St.