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Hospice workers to present at international conference

Hinsdale – Two Adventist St. Thomas Hospice employees and two volunteer hospice chaplains are scheduled to share their work at an upcoming international conference. The 17th International Congress on Palliative Care, taking place Sept. 23-26 in Montreal, has accepted two of the hospice’s abstracts for presentation.

Both abstracts highlight the hospice’s vigil program, established in 2007 to provide support to patients, families and facility staff when a patient begins his or her dying process. Vigil volunteers are specially trained hospice volunteers who remain at a patient’s bedside for the duration of the dying process in the event that no family members are able to be there or if all the family members are experiencing a crisis.

These volunteers must have completed at least 33 hours of training and have at least six months experience as a hospice volunteer. During the bedside vigil, volunteers can gently massage a patient, re-position them to make them more comfortable and serve as a calming presence for the patients and all the people involved in their care.

Barb Zerby, coordinator of volunteer services, Ellen Norton, a hospice nurse, and volunteer chaplains Linda Liu and Ed Partyka are scheduled to present information at the conference. Zerby established the vigil program.

Presented by McGill University’s Departments of Medicine and Oncology, Palliative Care Division, the biennial event is designed to give healthcare professionals, therapists, volunteers, and all those involved in care for the dying the opportunity to renew themselves as providers of care and obtain the inspiration that will help shape the palliative care of the future. Thousands of people from all over the world are expected to attend.

“We are honored that our representatives were chosen to present information to our peers about this groundbreaking program,” said Pam Mezyk, executive director of Adventist St. Thomas Hospice.

Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, 8230 S. Madison, Burr Ridge, is part of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. For more information on the vigil program or other hospice programs, call (630) 856-6990. For more information on the congress, visit www.pal2008.com/index-e.html.