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It is nice that we chaplains get our moments also.  Below is a recent article out of Oklahoma which describes the role and value of hospice chaplaincy. 

Hospice chaplain says it’s ‘all about love’

By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Published: 6/16/2012  2:24 AM
Last Modified: 6/16/2012  5:27 AM

A smile brightened Mary Frances Droze’s face Monday when hospice chaplain Terry Snelling walked into her east Tulsa living room.

Snelling sat down in a wheelchair, pulled it up to the recliner where Droze sat, and asked about her week.

The two have grown close during Snelling’s regular visits over the last eight months.

They talked about his triplet daughters and her traumatic experience stuck in a Colorado blizzard for two days as a child. Her father died a few months later of sickness stemming from exposure as he battled through snowdrifts to find help for his family.

“I’ve had a full life. I’ve enjoyed it,” said Droze, 97, who has battled cancer and heart disease.

At the end of the visit, Snelling prayed for her.

“I always like it because he comes and gives me a blessing,” she said.

Hospice chaplains help patients and their families deal with the emotional and spiritual challenges of facing death. A few of their patients recover. Most do not. The average patient dies after 40 days of hospice care.

Hospice is a calling, not a job, said Angela Temple, who left a position as an intensive-care nurse to become a hospice nurse in the Oklahoma Panhandle. She is now executive vice president of RoseRock Healthcare, a new hospice in Tulsa.

“We call it a hospice heart. If you have a hospice heart, you can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.

Tears sprang to her eyes and her voice broke as she described climbing into a bed to hold her first hospice patient, a dying woman.

Chaplains provide one part of a wide variety of services that hospices offer dying people and their families. In addition to pain management, medical and practical help, those services can include teaching a soon-to-be widow to balance a checkbook and helping a dying young mother write letters to be opened by her children in the years to come as they celebrate birthdays, graduation and marriage.

“It’s a very intense time in a family’s life,” Temple said.

RoseRock is one of more than 60 hospices in the Tulsa area, she said. The company has about 100 patients at any given time.

Snelling and Joy Naylor, RoseRock’s other chaplain, each see about 50 patients. They may visit a patient every couple of weeks, or, depending on the need, almost daily.

Both are Christians who say it is important to respect the religious values of their patients.

“End of life is the wrong time to create a spiritual crisis,” Naylor said.

“I’ve had agnostics, Muslims and Jewish people. You let the patient set the pace. God loves everyone far more than I do. It’s God’s responsibility to open the window.”

Snelling said every case is different.

“You have to be flexible. … It’s all about respect. And it’s all about love. If you treat the patient with love and respect, you’re going to be just fine.”

For about a month, Snelling has been visiting Robbie Cowan, 83, in Bixby, who is bedfast after a fall.

“I had no idea what hospice did. I’d never dealt with them,” said Cowan’s daughter and chief caretaker, Rita Davis.

“They’ve been great. They’ve blessed our lives immensely.”

Temple said that Medicare, which funds nearly all hospice care, requires that spiritual counseling be provided to those who desire it. Ninety-eight percent of hospice patients agree to meet with a chaplain, and those who decline tend to be those who are already closely tied to a faith community.

To qualify for hospice funding, a Medicare patient’s doctor and a hospice medical director must certify that the person is terminally ill and probably has less than six months to live.

Temple said services are provided wherever people live, at home, in a nursing home, “sometimes under a bridge.” RoseRock turns no one away for lack of money.

About 20 percent of dying people use hospice services.

Naylor said working with patients and their families as death nears is an “amazing process.”

“I’m still awestruck by the process,” she said. “These people become such a part of your life.”

She said in her seven years of hospice work, dealing with some 600 to 800 families, she has yet to see a fully functional family.

“In a crisis, the cooties come out,” she said. But in nearly every case, families deal with the issues, and a peaceful death results.

Temple said people with unresolved issues will struggle and fight death.

“A peaceful death is difficult if a person is not spiritually and emotionally where they’re supposed to be,” she said.

Snelling was born and raised in Tulsa and became a hospice chaplain after working for 25 years as a paramedic, first with EMSA and then with the Hillcrest AirEvac helicopter crew.

In his mid-40s he felt called into the ministry and attended Bible school. One day, as part of his training, he rode with a hospice chaplain.

“We started out at 9 a.m., and by noon I knew that this was what I wanted to do when I completed ministry school,” he said.

He also is pastor of a small Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Mounds.

Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
bill.sherman@tulsaworld.com 
By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=18&articleid=20120616_18_A13_CUTLIN559989

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