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Hospice nurse's kind care helps patients, families

Krystle Wagner • Jun 6, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Memories flowed as Eve Marcum visited with the Vollmer family.

Russell Vollmer’s wife, Alice, and his sons shared stories of their times at the family’s cabin in the Upper Peninsula and trips across the country as Marcum took Russell’s vitals and assessed his condition.

Russell Vollmer, 89, died May 29.

In working with hospice patients, Marcum walks alongside their families. It’s a role she fills to ensure the patient’s quality of life and manages their symptoms.

Entering hospice care isn’t about giving up hope, said Marcum, who recently received the peer-nominated 2017 Nurse Excellence Award from the North Ottawa Community Health System.

When Russell complained about not having any energy and started losing weight, the Nunica man underwent testing that revealed he had cancer. Since he was always healthy, Alice said the diagnosis was “shocking.”

With the diagnosis of the “widespread and fast moving” cancer, Russell decided to “leave it up to God” and remain at home with friends and family by his side.

Having Marcum, a pastor and social worker with the family has brought them comfort and peace, and Marcum has been kind and patient, Alice said.

When Marcum, 44, meets with a patient and family, she tries to prepare herself that she will one day lose the patient, whether through death or stabilizing enough to leave hospice care. Developing and building relationships is among the best parts of her job, she said, but it can be emotional and hard losing the patients and families with whom she grows close.

Marcum said it can be exhausting for families providing care, so hospice staff members are there so the family members can focus on their relationship with their loved ones.

Having the ability to stay at home with Russell allowed family and friends to share and reflect as he rested comfortably and peacefully. Alice said the important thing she was able to focus on is cherishing the love they have for each other.

Alice said they had heard of hospice, but they weren’t aware of what it entailed. Throughout the entire process and journey, Alice said they were treated with respect, dignity and love.

“The support we’ve been given, you can’t explain it until you’ve been through it,” she said.

For more information about Hospice of North Ottawa Community, call 616-846-2015.

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