In the middle of my second week of hospice I was asked by on of my co-workers, Paty, what was the most influential lesson I had learned over the past 2 weeks? Immediately, my answer was the sense of team work and community that I had observed and been a part of. On my first day, I walked into the meeting room of the hospice and was welcomed with open arms by the “equipo” who goes out into the community. They begin every work day with a prayer, psalm, and petitions. After, they discuss the patients they will be seeing that day and any problems they encountered during their previous visits. It is a team of five including an electric psychologist, Dr.Flor, kind doctor, Dr. Katherine, two hard-working technicians, Paty and Gloria, and myself. I admire the way this team of medical associates work hand in hand. They all have an input on each case. They place the problems on the table for the whole group to work together. It isn’t the type of team that works vertically, but rather horizontally. There is respect and accountability in each individual’s role in the group.

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After this group meeting, we set out to go work in the community. I accompanied Paty and Gloria to do bathing, wound care, massages, and assessment of vitals. wpid-img_3842.jpgHere is where I have seen the other part of team and community involved in working at the hospice. The bedside manner I have witnessed, is one that I have never really experienced before. We walked into these homes and it felt as if we were part of the family. The importance of family participation with the patient care is vital in really helping these patients have the best care. Here is where I have seen human dignity at play. Each and every one of these patients no matter what their condition, are treated with dignity. Although most of our
patients have chronic illnesses, they deserve to have tender care because they are human. It is that basic. A right to have dignity and have some sense of peace in the worst of health conditions, is a basic right we all should have.

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Finally, once our rounds in the community are done we head back to the hospice help with the admitted patients. Usually, this means helping feed the patients because we arrive right before lunch. Here is the last part of the network. The staff that works inside the hospice give these more severely ill patients care and dignity, as well. The work doesn’t only come from the medical staff, but the clerical staff are part of the team. They help ensure schedules are made, the moneys are accounted for, families are counseled, the hospice is clean, and the hospice is secure. This hospice can only run like a well oiled machine if everyone plays their part. Not only does everyone play their part, but everyone works together. This hospice team includes the medical staff, the patients, the clerical staff, and the families of the patients. So this team is a community in itself.

If anything from this team, I have learned the importance of the common good and human dignity. This team is made up of individuals who work and sacrifice for the common good of the patients. They not only treat these patients with dignity, but each other with dignity. Each individual has a role and say that is respected by the team. These patients are either chronically or terminally ill, and deserve the care they receive because they deserve to have dignity in their illness. We all have a right to dignity at our basic core.

I am thankful to be working in the only hospice in all of South America, and even more thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with such a strong team and welcoming community.

Leave you with this.

Dignity. It means a belief in oneself, that one is worthy of the best. It means that what I have to say is important, and I will say it when it’s important for me to say it. Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive. And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to other people.

-Maya Angelou