Advance Care PlanningNovember is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and it reminded me of a recent “mom” event — sometimes the need to have “the” conversation hits you right between the eyes — and when you least expect it.

Here’s what happened:

You know that feeling when you look down at your phone only to see that the same person has called you 6 times while you were in meeting. (I make it a practice to silence my phone during meetings, but I had also turned off the vibrate on my phone that day--that buzz can be stressful, try turning it off…it may add years to your life!)

Anyway, I knew something was wrong when I realized the number was from one of our Hosparus Health nurses, Jennifer Bradbury. She explained that she was at one of our nursing homes visiting a Hosparus Health patient when she was summoned by staff to check on a person who had fallen outside the building. The person was not a resident, she was a visitor.

Jennifer approached an elderly lady who was on the ground and bleeding from her forehead. The woman was disoriented and could only speak of her two daughters by name, and that they were both out of town. She then asked her to call “my son, Jason.” Jennifer looked at her and asked “Jason Parroco?" Jennifer called 911 for my mom and proceeded to blow up my phone.

No, this isn’t a typical occurrence in a day in the life of a Hosparus Health Outreach Manager. But then again, it actually is a good example. The way I look at it:

  • It’s busy
  • It’s about making connections
  • It’s about passion and caring
  • It’s always an opportunity to learn

Here’s what it’s like to do outreach for the region’s most compassionate, nonprofit hospice and palliative care organization.

Busy: On any given day, I can start off at coffee with a community leader, attend a palliative conference at UL downtown, participate in a Norton Palliative meeting, make a lunch presentation to a physicians group, put out a fire at a nursing home and speak to students about careers in healthcare and the importance of volunteering. Most of our days are proactive vs. reactive, but the flexibility and fluidity are paramount.

Fluidity is important just in case your mom takes a fall and ends up in an ambulance…

Connections, connections, connections, thank goodness for connections: Call it coincidence, karma, fate. I like to say we live in a “million-person Mayberry.” Our communities are tight. Kentucky and Indiana are awesome places to live because of our quality of life and incredible sense of community.

When the incident with my mom happened, she was visiting a Sunday school friend who recently moved into a memory care residence. That friend’s son was the CEO and keynote speaker at a ribbon cutting ceremony that I had attended that morning. The nursing home employee who asked Jennifer to care for “the injured lady in the parking lot” was once my children’s babysitter. The doctor in the ER was my neighbor and golf buddy.

All these folks circled back to me to ask about Mom and how she was doing. Lives around here are interwoven. This sense of connection makes my job fun and underscores the importance of patient centered care.

Passion and Caring: This is our battle cry, our badge of honor at Hosparus Health. Does that sound too dramatic? Not really! We are known for passion and caring. It defines our company, our jobs, ourselves. It’s why I’m having to allot for extra time at Kroger, because when I wear my Hosparus Health badge in public (Kroger, Panera, Chinese buffet) someone always stops me to tell me about their wonderful experience with us. And I will never tire of these conversations, even if my ice cream is melting in the bascart.

Back to Mom: I am so grateful to Jennifer for her passion and caring. Mom and all her Sunday school friends are still singing praises for the “nice girl” who didn’t let her bleed to death on the sidewalk.

Always an Opportunity to have “the” conversation: I’ve never worked for a company whose purpose and mission is as important as Hosparus Health. And because of this: it’s very easy to talk about Hosparus and what we do for our community. I find myself easily diverting daily conversations toward my job and my company. This is because everyone is our customer. Everyone!

Unless of course you are immortal, an Avenger… which would be really cool!

Everyone needs to know what we know. Sure, it’s a tough conversation but it’s definitely easier to have a tough conversation before it’s a tough situation. It’s always easier to sell something when you’re not trying to sell something. We are challenged to be creative in delivering our message to multiple and diverse customer groups each and every day. We have a standardized message yet we personalize it to each individual.

Technically, there are 11 people in Outreach, but everyone who works for Hosparus Health does outreach for us. We all have opportunities to share our mission and purpose to our friends, neighbors, families and friends. We are all marketers!

Back to Mom: After 10 stitches to the forehead, her CT scan showed a non-operative eye socket fracture. Besides looking like Stallone in Rocky, she is doing well. My family and I are planning to talk to her about hospice and palliative care soon. We all know that we need to have this tough conversation. And what better time than during Hospice Month?

Won’t you consider having “the” conversation with your loved one?