Even on Holidays, Hospice Heeds No Clock or Calendar

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In the words of Joyce Robinson-Beck, “We never close.”

But she’s not employed at an all-night diner or 24-hour convenience store.

Robinson-Beck is a long-time registered nurse for Emmanuel Hospice, where the critical mission of providing personalized care and comfort doesn’t bow to the clock or calendar.

“No matter the hour of the day, no matter what time of year, people have needs, and it’s our privilege to serve them,” she said. “And that goes for holidays—Christmas and New Year’s included.”

Waiting to start hospice care until after the holidays is a common inclination, but hospice services can provide the necessary care and comfort to support both patients and their loved ones during what is already an overwhelming time of year. Having this support can enable families to focus more on cherishing their time together. 

“Holidays are stressful enough,” Robinson-Beck said. “There are so many expectations already in place, and when you are in need of healthcare, that just intensifies the situation. So we make it our responsibility to be there, and in what can be the toughest of times.”

According to Robinson-Beck, Emmanuel strives to return a call for service within five minutes. The care team then does everything possible to respond to the need within an hour—which is a pretty tall order for a hospice organization whose service area translates to a 50-mile radius.

Just last winter during the holidays, Robinson-Beck recalled a situation where a patient’s daughter called late at night and needed to admit her mother for hospice care. 

Despite a blizzard raging, “We were able to bring her meds, equipment and pretty much everything she needed to receive care in that daughter’s home rather than enter a hospital.”

Robinson-Beck says many calls received during the holidays—and after traditional daytime business hours in general—are from older caregivers who are unable to return a patient to their bed following a fall. 

“That happens more than people realize,” she said. “These days, people are living longer, and it’s not unusual for a caregiver to be in their 70s or 80s or even 90s, and unable to lift that loved one.”

The reaction Emmanuel receives from its patients and caregivers? 

“They’re incredibly grateful,” Robinson-Beck said. “They may be initially hesitant to call us during a holiday, for example, because they don’t want to be a bother. But when they realize this is something we do and want to do, they’re amazed, and it humbles us.” 

For Robinson-Beck and many of her colleagues, stepping up at all hours of the day and times of the year isn’t just an obligation or duty. 

“It fulfills the needs we have as caregivers ourselves,” she explained. “The way I see it, God gives us all gifts, and it’s on us to uphold that responsibility.”

Her job was made more complicated this past year due to the passing of a brother-in-law this past fall, an uncle seven months ago and her mother five months ago. 

“I’ve been really sad since my mother passed away. But I know I have a job to do. And I can hear my mother’s voice whispering, ‘Go back to work, Joyce. You’re needed.’” 

That work, said Robinson-Beck, “fills my cup, and there’s no bigger calling.”

Anyone can connect a loved one with Emmanuel Hospice. You don’t need a physician referral to begin the process. Visit EmmanuelHospice.org or call 616.719.0919 to learn more.

Courtesy of Emmanuel Hospice.


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