• Hospice Volunteer Michael Shattuck Receives National Points of Light Award

    Bridgway Hospice volunteer Michael Shattuck was recognized with the national Points of Light award for volunteer service. The award is presented by the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service for volunteers that inspire change and improve the world through their service.

    Mr. Shattuck greets and directs patients at both Bridgeway Hospice and the Wellstar Health Center Infectious Disease unit. He is a friendly blessing to both patients and staff alike, welcoming and assisting however he can. His motivation to contribute stems from his own experience as a patient.

    Mike was suffering from multiple illnesses for four consecutive years. He would go to a clinic, get treated, and come back home. When his medical conditions were getting treated, Mike had nobody visit him. His personal experience motivated him to help others in need of companionship and emotional support. In July 2017, he joined Bridgeway Hospice with a clear goal of contributing towards providing with the most comfortable and compassionate end-of-life experience.

    Speaking of the award Michael says he is “honored to receive this award. My interpretation of Christianity is to render aid, succor and comfort to the poor, sick and dying.” He goes on to say that “you either contribute to the world or take from it. Like it or not, we are all part of one global organism.”

    Points of Light engages more than four million volunteers in 30 million individual hours of service each year. They recognize a special volunteer five days a week in the US and the UK.

    “The Daily Point of Light Award recognizes exceptional individuals who are using their time, talent, voice and treasure to improve the lives of others,” said Jaqueline Innocent, VP of Recognition Programs of Points of Light. “These points of light, like Michael Shattuck, make an impact on individuals while also helping build resilient communities.”

    Michael Shattuck continues to inspire others with his work and hopes to show others they can make a difference in their communities too.

    Bridgeway Hospice is committed to bridging the way to comfort and peace. Just like Mike’s service and commitment to hospice patients, hospice volunteering is a very rewarding experience that will challenge and enrich volunteers from all walks of life.

    To learn more about Michael Shattuck’s work, visit http://www.bridgewayhospice.org/volunteer/ and http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs/recognition/dpol/awards/6238

  • The Morphine Myth Part II

    A common concern with hospice care is the use of morphine and some myths regarding its use. In our last post we discussed an overview of these concerns and why hospice uses morphine. This week we’d like to address the most common objections to its use and some of the myths surrounding that.

    “But morphine is for drug addicts.”

    While it is true that there is a growing health crisis involving opiates, the sort of Morphine administered in a hospice setting is quite different from the drugs at the center of the opioid addiction crisis. The type of opioids involved in the current health crisis are usually prescription pills unlike the vials, syringes and patches used in hospice.

    Morphine use in a hospice setting also consists of much lower, managed doses administered by a trained healthcare professional. An essential part of addiction is the drug-seeking behavior. Hospice patients generally do not exhibit this behavior. When their pain is managed, they don’t go after more opiates. It’s also a good idea to keep a log near the medicine to track the timing, volume and effectiveness of each dose.

    “Morphine will make my loved one sleepy and they won’t be themselves.”

    Allowing a patient and their family time to share together is one of the primary goals of hospice. Morphine is only given to manage pain and symptoms, not as a means to sedate the patient or make them “high” so that they are not themselves. Morphine, especially in low doses, helps with the patient’s symptoms so that they may be more of themselves than a product of their ailments. It does not affect them mentally or change their personality.

    Just as with any medication, when first starting the patient may take some time to adjust. This may include initial drowsiness but after the first few days, these effects go away. Every person is different however, and some may react in different ways to opioids. In these cases it is up to the patient, their family and their care team to consider alternate forms of pain management.

    “Morphine kills.”

    There is no evidence that opioids speed up the process when a person is already terminally ill as long as they receive the proper dose to control their symptoms. The opposite may actually be true. Troubled breathing and constant pain drain hospice patients of their energy and strength. When these symptoms are relieved, the patient can be made more comfortable and even slow down the rate of decline.

    This myth stems from the circumstances in which morphine is used. If a patient is in hospice and prescribed morphine, they are usually in the advanced stages of terminal illness. The person is in the process of transitioning with or without the morphine. Sometimes the patient’s final moments may come shortly after a dose of medication, but this is just a coincidence.

    Hospice seeks to provide a comfortable passage through the end of one’s life. Hospice never intends to speed up this passage, only to make it more peaceful. Morphine is nothing more than a tool to aid in this goal.