Vets needed for hospice program


Whidbey General Hospital’s hospice program needs a few veterans ready to serve.

The hospital is searching for more volunteers, said Suzanne Reynolds, a volunteer coordinator. In particular, they would like to find veterans, since these volunteers can often better relate to the life experiences of patients who also served in the military.

Volunteers sit with patients, chat, read to them, do light chores and run errands.

Volunteers need to be 18 years or older, pass a background check and participate in about 20 hours of training. The next training session is later this month. Those who are interested should call 360-914-5635. At the moment, about 30 patients are in the program.

“You have to be comfortable attitude about dying,” Reynolds said. “You need to be a good listener, generally a calm person and want to be of service.”

The hospice program is about a year old and Medicare certified, which means that someone on Medicare receives hospice care at no cost, said Diane Fiumara, hospice manager.

Hospice provides care to people who doctors believe have less than six months to live. Patients can choose to stay at home, where doctors, a social worker, nurses and the chaplain come to them. Hospice aids help patients bathe or shower.

“If you ask most people to picture where they would want to die, they would say in their homes surrounded by family and not in a sterile hospital environment — although some prefer that and that’s OK too,” she said.

The hospital also is working to become certified with We Honor Veterans, a collaboration between Veterans Association and hospices.