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Getting to Know You

Hummingbird Hospice is filled with caring clinical staff. During National Nurses Week, we would like to highlight a few of our amazing nurses and give thanks for the hard work of the entire clinical department. Providing comfort and guiding families through these most difficult times is a skill not learned but built into the hearts of individuals from birth. We are proud to have you all on our team.

Kayla Peterson, Registered Nurse

How do you keep your spirits up?

Throughout the past seven years, I have lived and worked as a Registered Nurse in Asia, Europe, and the United States. I’ve experienced the joy of a baby taking his first breath and the sorrowful passing of a loved one within mere hours of each other. I also have three young boys who are growing too fast for my heart to handle. These precious memories and daily moments with my children are a perpetual reminder of life’s unyielding pace. I strive to find the beauty in each situation, whether it be one of happiness or grief. This perspective has resulted in an optimistic outlook on life and kept my spirits flying high!

How do you lift the spirits of patients and loved ones?

I allow them to lead in each situation. Many days are full of listening and validating emotions, others are spent telling jokes and finding humor in difficult situations. Sometimes I find myself sitting in silent companionship with those who need a shoulder to cry on. Working in hospice presents daily opportunities to make positive, long-lasting impressions on others during some of their most vulnerable moments, and I do not take that responsibility lightly.

Matt Heitkamp, Registered Nurse

Some people might say that working with those who are dying is depressing. Do you feel that way? Why or why not?

When I would mention to other people that I was changing from bedside nursing to hospice care, I would often get the same response which was, "wow, I don't think I could do hospice, it sounds so depressing". I believe this response comes from a general lack of understanding of what hospice care is as well as what each individual person feels about death and dying.

My mom in particular told me she was concerned about me moving my career in this direction for this reason worrying it would be "too heavy" or "a huge depressing burden" to work in this field. Now I can only speak for myself and my own feelings or values, but I definitely do not feel that hospice is depressing or unfulfilling at all.

My nursing background prior to hospice is entirely critical care/ICU nursing. Throughout my work in critical care, I have seen over and over just how difficult medical treatment can be on someone, especially extreme measures against all odds. At times it can feel like torturing someone, and the sad truth is that if and when these patients I'm reminded of are able to express their wishes, they ask for comfort and release. I bet if you asked the ICU nurse in your life, they would have several stories of times a patient has asked to be allowed to die comfortably and wished the extreme measures would stop, but especially in a hospital setting it just isn't that simple.

With hospice, a choice is made for a focus on comfort and relief absent of extreme sometimes tortuous measures and being able to help give someone that is an incredible gift. Rather than depressing, I find it incredibly fulfilling to be able to be a part of such an important part of life, a part of life everyone must go through at some point.

What do you think you bring to people who are dying?

In regard to what I bring to people who are dying, most importantly, I hope I bring comfort to them and their families through medical and emotional support. Hospice work can be delicate but amazing, and I hope that I'm able to help patients and their families have the best possible experience during a difficult time in their lives.

Sasha Montemayor,

COO, Director of Nursing

If nurses would like to work in hospice, is there any specific training, certifications, or experience that they would need?

Although nursing experience is not required for certain hospice care roles, I would say having a good foundation or skillset is beneficial. We look for team members who are confident in their abilities, yet open to new challenges and learning opportunities. That's what makes Hummingbird different; we provide care in a variety of settings. Hummingbird is where everyone should go because we can do just about anything as we are not conservative to care.

Specific training:

Not completely necessary but if you want to reach for the stars you can receive your certification with Hospice and palliative credentialing

There will be job-specific training when you come on board with Hummingbird. I can take in a nurse fresh out of school who is open and eager to learn, but it is helpful to have some sort of critical care experience. Nurses will become experts with IV insertions, hanging fluids, monitoring vitals, administering and monitoring medication reactions, wound care, and responding to changes in each patient's condition, just to name a few. Our skills are very rounded, that's what sets Hummingbird apart.

Train with Sasha Montemayor, she got yew! Experience needed:

Compassion, great COMMUNICATION skills, interpersonal skills, strong time management skills, flexibility, patience, ability to work independently, leadership skills, and most importantly clean bag technique and clean car technique! Also, STAY CALM

The Hummingbird Difference

Our ideas and concepts regarding what type of care should be provided are not conservative, as all patients and families deserve to live their best quality of life. Most importantly, they deserve optimized care and support throughout this new transition. Our patients are not just numbers, but a part of our Hummingbird family. Together, we grow and learn, expanding our abilities and understanding of how to offer individualized compassionate care for the patient and family as a whole. We do not focus on just the patient, but include loved ones, caregivers, medical directors, nurses, spiritual care, social workers, and volunteers as a unit to ensure the comfort and experience during this stage of each patient's life is exactly as they wish it to be.

Hummingbird strives to change how hospice is perceived, and advocates for a change within our healthcare system. This is the Hummingbird Difference

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