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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Lifestyles

BridgingLife’s hospice heroes earn recognition

Second in a series.

BridgingLife of Westminster has recognized six of its “hospice heroes” for their work providing care to hospice patients and their families. In the weeks leading up to Taste of Carroll, BridgingLife’s annual fundraising event which will be held at 1623 Brewing Company in Eldersburg April 25, The Times will highlight each week two heroes and their contributions to their community.

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BridgingLife is a nonprofit that has served Carroll County for more than 35 years, formerly as Carroll Hospice. The organization provides hospice care to anyone, regardless of insurance coverage or financial situation. No one is refused or denied hospice care.

Hospice is a patient-centered, family-oriented approach to care for anyone in the advanced stages of a life-limiting illness. The goal of hospice is to enable patients to live out the remainder of their days in comfort and dignity by combining pain and symptom management with spiritual and emotional support.

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Jennifer Ballas

Jennifer Ballas, 49, of Westminster has served as an inpatient palliative care coordinator at BridgingLife for nine years.

Starting her career as a pediatric nurse, she later transitioned to palliative medicine where she cares for patients in their final moments of life.

“I believe that it’s equally important to celebrate the moments of a joyous birth and also to celebrate all the moments of a life well-lived at the end of life,” she said. “What drew me to palliative medicine was caring for people who are in those final chapters of their journey and really celebrating the time that is left in those final chapters.”

Having experienced what it is like to have a relative in hospice care, Ballas said she understands its value.

“All the years that I’ve done palliative medicine I was giving out educational advice to move forward with hospice, but when my own mother was in the care of hospice, I learned firsthand just how amazing the gift of hospice really is,” she said.

Ballas said it is an honor to be recognized as a hospice hero for her work at BridgingLife.

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“I have such a love for taking care of people who are my friends and my neighbors and getting to know people in our community in a way that really builds on relationships,” she said. “Every day is different and it gives me so much life purpose and meaning to serve a community in this way.”

Desiree Johnson

Desiree Johnson, 45, of Owings Mills has served as departmental secretary at Sinai Hospice Inpatient Unit in Baltimore since June 2021.

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In her role, it is her responsibility to handle the administrative and clerical duties that contribute to the function of the hospital, such as creating death certificates, generating medical charts and ordering supplies.

As a teenager, Johnson experienced what it was like to have a family member in hospice care. She said the experience made her want to pursue a job in the field.

“My aunt had died at a very young age of breast cancer and I was 13 and it was very traumatic,” she said. “[Hospice] was something that I’ve always wanted to learn the other side of the medical [field] as opposed to being on the family side and it just clicked for me.”

Johnson said she was shocked to find out that she was selected as a hospice hero.

“I never, ever thought that the small things that I do just to make sure that the unit runs smoothly, that anybody was noticing,” she said. “This is something that we do to give care and love to anybody because I could be in the role of the patient or the family member, so I’ve always just tried to be the person I would want to have if I was in that role.”


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