Third 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.
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.
Melanie Johnston, 54, of Eldersburg has served as a registered nurse at BridgingLife for seven years.
Johnston previously served as a traveling nurse and transitioned to hospice care for what she believed to be a three-month contract. During those three months, she said she fell in love with the work.
As a registered nurse, she visits patients who are in need of hospice care and talks with the patient and family members about necessary care.
“I ask [the patient] what’s important, is it staying home [or] is it living somewhere else,” she said. “It’s really me trying to figure out what’s important to them, what do they need to have happen for the rest of the time that they have with us.”
Johnston said she is honored to be recognized as a hospice hero for her work.
“The work is really important, so that’s what matters most to me, is making sure that the people get what they need,” she said. “When you say, ‘what’s important to you’ and you say, ‘I can make that happen,’ that’s what I like.”
Lynn Tieri-Venn, 54, of Westminster, has spent four years as a hospice aide in the inpatient unit at Dove House at BridgingLife.
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After earning a degree in history, she transitioned into the medical field about a decade ago and eventually found herself drawn to hospice.
“My father had died [in] hospice and I’ve always really respected the entire institution of hospice,” she said. “It really is an honor to help people at this point in their lives when they’re the most vulnerable and it’s nice to try and make a difference in their passing, in their journey.”
As a hospice aide it is her job to bathe and feed patients, greet patients and their families when they arrive at hospice and comfort patients who may feel afraid.
She said one of the joys of her job is being able to comfort family members as they say their final goodbye to their loved one.
“A lot of family members really want to be there with their loved one in their final moments,” she said. “It’s comforting that they are able to do that and it makes things so much more peaceful. It’s really a wonderful service.”
Tieri-Venn said it is wonderful to be honored as a hospice hero for her work.
“Being a hospice hero means a lot to me because I’m being recognized by my co-workers,” she said. “I just love my co-workers and apparently they love me, too.”