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Called to Care

Jan 26, 2024

Lisa Norton, Communications and Philanthropy Manager

Angela Hospice would be nothing without its exceptional team. But what inspires these compassionate, caring souls to pursue this noble profession? Read their stories to learn how hospice helps them to fulfill their purpose each day.

Marwa Mallah thrives in her role as Patient Family Liaison because she loves helping people.

“My favorite part about my job is working with the families, and just sensing the relief that they feel, knowing that our team members are there to help.”

In her role, Marwa spends time talking to families, introducing the hospice philosophy, discussing what hospice care is and isn’t, and how it might align with a patient’s own goals. If hospice is a good fit, she prepares for their admission.

“It’s really making sure that everything is in place, that there’s not much that they’re worried about during that time, because it is a really trying time for them,” she explained.

She knows she’s making a difference when she can see their anxiety subside, or when they tell her, “thank you so much, you’re an angel!”

“I just really love working for an organization where my life values and life morals also line up with the morals and values of our organization.”

Melissa Alsobrooks is grateful for every patient she meets in her role as an Angela Hospice nurse.

“I love to cross paths with people in different stages of their life,” she said.

Melissa came to Angela Hospice in February 2023, as her first nursing job. While in nursing school, she was working as a photographer and met a family whose child was in hospice care. It was then that she first realized hospice nursing could be a good fit.

“That was a very sacred thing for me to be part of,” she said. “That was my first introduction to hospice nursing.”

Now having been a hospice nurse for eight months, her favorite part of the job is still connecting with patients and families.

“To be able to sit with them while they’re holding something that can be so terrible and so heavy at the same time, but also reflecting on their beautiful life… there’s just so many elements to it, and I think it’s a privilege to share that with somebody.”

“Thank you for sharing your fears with me. And thank you for allowing me to take care of you.”

Coming off maternity leave, social worker Dominique Lamar thought, if she was going to be leaving her twin baby girls to go back to work, she better be doing something important.

“I wanted to do something that was purposeful,” she said. She wanted to change lives, so she started applying to hospices.

Part of what interested Dominique about hospice was realizing her grandmother, who died from stomach cancer in her 50s while Dominique was still in high school, could have benefited from hospice care.

“I think that in the African American community, sometimes we lack the resources that are available to us,” Dominique said. “I think years later I asked my mom, ‘How come we never did hospice for Grandma?’ And
she was like, ‘I just didn’t know much about it.’ So I think being able to provide awareness to my community was a part of the reason.”

“I enjoy connecting with the patients and I enjoy connecting with their families… you get to kind of see them through this journey.”

When Ricky Middleton’s Aunt Sherry had cancer, he was in the hospital with her a lot.

“I saw her get good care, I saw her get bad care… I felt the reaction I got when a good nurse was in the room explaining everything, showing that they care, and they’re not just there to make money,” he said. “Once I saw the good ones… I had that feeling inside. I just knew I wanted to provide that for other people.”

Ricky joined the Angela Hospice team as a home care nurse eight months ago, and since that time he’s seen how he can help families’ stress and anxiety wither away.

“When you come into a stressful situation – someone is struggling for months – then over time you change it, you change things for the better as best as you can… it gives you the most overwhelming sense of love… You just feel whole,” he said.

He’s glad to be part of the Angela Hospice team, where his colleagues’ empathy and caring is evident in all they do. Ricky’s compassion shines through just as brightly.

“Give it your entire heart, your patients and the families they deserve it.”

After losing her 2-year-old daughter Riya in 2013, and her infant daughter Cana just three years later, Jamie Gibbings knew she needed to do something to help other grieving parents.

“I’m a believer in God and I know that there’s reason for my pain,” she thought. “I’m not made to feel so much hurt… there has to be something more for it. So I became a birth and bereavement doula.”

Jamie began doing advocacy work for parents facing miscarriage and infant death as well, but she kept running up against the same hurdle.

“It was like nobody really wanted to talk because I wasn’t a nurse. So I was like, ‘OK, well, then I’m going to go become a nurse now.’”

She reached out to Dr. Nadia Tremonti who had helped her so much during the passing of her daughters, and she said, “Come work with me at Angela.”

Now Jamie is caring for Angela Hospice patients, including patients in the My Nest is Best Pediatric Program.

“I love it,” she said. “I kind of feel selfish sometimes, working this job, because it makes me feel closer to my daughters. And when I was telling that to my husband, he said, ‘You know, that’s called purpose.’” Jamie continued, “It’s very rewarding to just be with people in such vulnerable times. And knowing that I’ve experienced it, I think really helps parents through it.”

“Everybody’s going to pass away at some time, regardless if it’s a two year old or 102 year old. And being able to make that journey for them, and the process, just a little bit easier, and to maybe give them and their families some memories and a better quality than sitting next to a hospital bed… is a wonderful thing to think about. Because if it was your loved one, which would you prefer?”

When Kristine-Joy Sidon talks about her patients, her face absolutely lights up. She works nights at the Care Center, so it’s a special treat when one of her patients is a night owl.

“When there are those little bits of time that we get to just hang out with a patient, it’s so cool,” she said.

When families come to visit or stay the night, she likes taking care of them, too. She lost her own father suddenly at a young age, so she’s grateful for the chance to make someone else’s journey a bit easier, even if it’s just getting them a blanket or some ice cream.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m always hosting a slumber party… especially if there’s family staying over,” she said.

On those nights when families aren’t visiting, she knows they often worry they can’t be with their loved one, so Kristine-Joy makes it her mission to keep them company, especially if they are close to transitioning.

“I always make sure that they don’t ever feel like they’re alone,” she said.

And when someone has taken their last breath at night as she held their hand, she called it a humbling and peaceful experience.

“It’s such an intimate thing that if you haven’t experienced it, it’s just hard to describe… It’s really a gift, honestly,” she said.

“We get to come in and treat those symptoms, and then the family just gets to hang out as their loved one, not their caregiver.”

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