I was first exposed to a team approach to healthcare as a volunteer in a hospice inpatient unit. There were doctors, nurses and aides, social workers, chaplains, and music therapists working together, not only for the patients but also for their families. I had never heard of integrative medicine but this was it in action.
At weekly staff meetings I witnessed a blend of professional expertise and heart-centeredness. Discussions covered the issues of medications, insurance, and logistics combined with genuine compassion for those in the midst of struggle. We asked: What can we do to ease their pain and angst? Who do we need to contact to make sure the family is receiving the services they need? Is anyone available to simply sit and listen with an open heart?
Community outreach was an integral part of the effort to educate and support, whether it was a camp for children grieving the loss of a loved one or monthly seminars on topics ranging from advance directives to caregiver burnout.
It became my ardent conviction: this is a model of healthcare not only for the dying but for everyone, no matter the age and stage of life.
My experience at hospice was the perfect setting for me as I began exploring energy medicine and Healing Touch. It was exciting for me to learn that Healing Touch was an active part of the integrative medicine movement in hospitals and healthcare settings throughout the world. The Healing Touch Integrative Care Program has since been created as a great resource for bringing Healing Touch to any healthcare facility.
My Healing Touch training evolved into a career that took me away from those volunteer days at hospice. But the impact that it had on me will always remain. Along with my integrative medicine colleagues at WholeHealth Chicago, I embrace those same qualities: teamwork, heart-centeredness and community outreach.
I am grateful every day for the opportunity to be a part of the WholeHealth Chicago team, but there will always be a place in my heart for hospice.