Adventist St. Thomas Hospice volunteer called to serve
Hinsdale – After Suzanne Combs recovered from a serious illness 10
years ago, she wanted to give back to demonstrate how grateful she was to be
The Naperville resident has expressed that gratitude through
volunteer work with Adventist St.
Thomas Hospice of Hinsdale. After nearly
six years with the hospice, she is still giving back by helping patients and
families through a difficult, end-of-life time.
“Hospice work is a calling,” Combs said. “When I get a call
to do a vigil for a dying patient, I gladly drop what I’m doing. I think it’s
something that only other hospice volunteers understand. It’s not something you
can share with everyone. But when you do mention hospice, nearly everyone has
their story of how a family member was helped.”
Every time Combs meets a new patient, she assesses the needs
of the patient and family. She might spend her time going through old photos or
letters, and reminiscing with the patient. She might see to it that a nursing
home resident gets to go outside. She might sit with a patient during the last
hours of life, praying and massaging his or her hands.
“I was with my last patient for six months,” Combs said.
“She was an artist. I was able to take her outside and help her paint.”
Barbara Zerby, coordinator of volunteer services for
Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, could use dozens more volunteers like Combs.
“Suzanne cares a great deal for our patients and our
families and it shows,” Zerby said. “She brings a unique gift to her work, she
knows how to provide the companionship our patients need, and relief to the families.
She is comfortable in end-of-life situations. She brings an inner peace that
helps ease patients and their families through the dying process.”
A decade ago, when she was still living in Pennsylvania,
Combs experienced her own brush with death. Her appendix ruptured and
peritonitis set in.
“The doctors didn’t think I would make it, but I went
through a long hospitalization and I recovered,” Combs said. She credits her
husband, Jim, for making a tough decision and getting her to the right hospital.
“When you’re as ill as I was, you can’t communicate,” Combs
recalled. “But after I pulled through, I asked myself, ‘How will I ever give
She soon found a way. After she recovered, Combs began
volunteering at a nursing home. Combs knows the value of sharing with others
during a time of grief. She was visiting her father in Florida when he went
into the hospital for a routine procedure and died.
“When I lost my father, I wanted to talk to everyone who had
lost their father,” Combs said.
Combs has certainly carried out her desire to give back
through helping. In addition to her work at Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, she
volunteers at her church, St. Raphael in Naperville, helping with altar
preparation and special decorations. It is also through her church that she
volunteers at Rainbows, a support group for children who have lost a parent
through death, divorce or separation.
Through her garden club, Combs also works with nursing home
patients, teaching floral arrangements as therapy, and she visits those club
members who are facing surgery or recovering from an operation, sometimes
bringing meals. She finds her hospice work very special.
“Hospice work is powerful,” Combs said. “It teaches us how
to face challenges. It’s a gift given from the heart and soul.”
For more information on volunteering for Adventist St.
Thomas Hospice, call (630) 856-6990.
Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist
Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist
Hospital and Adventist La Grange
Memorial Hospital. To
find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.
Media contact: Lisa
Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, Lisa.firstname.lastname@example.org; 630-856-2354