Hospice & Community Care’s more than 400 employees go above and beyond each day for our patients and families. All of our team members, regardless of their roles and disciplines, make a significant impact in the lives of our patients and their families, and we are shining a spotlight on them. In each edition of Hospice Horizons, you will meet a team member who is living out our mission.
As we celebrate our 40th anniversary we can’t help but pause to recognize the reason for our longevity and reputation, our staff. In 1980, we started with a few community professionals and a volunteer nurse; today we have grown to more than 400 employees. Thank you to our team!
Throughout this growth, there has been an employee who has been with Hospice & Community since nearly the beginning, and who has played a role in helping to build a Home Hospice program that is exceptional.
Tracey Wheatley has been working at Hospice & Community Care for 35 years and began as a field nurse and case manager with six other team members. Today, she serves as our Lancaster Director of Home Hospice since 2015, leading our Home Hospice team in providing excellent hospice and end-of-life care for all patients, family members and caregivers.
Throughout her career Tracey has witnessed firsthand the changes within the hospice industry and at Hospice & Community Care. While change can be scary for some, Tracey shared that she is proud to be a part of an organization and industry that was small and that is now nationally recognized.
“Hospice care overall is now recognizing that all disciplines are important in the care of a patient,” commented Tracey who is a Registered Nurse. “A lot of the care that hospices provided in the beginning were focused on nursing. As the industry grew, other disciplines became so important. And, during this transition, we [Hospice & Community Care] were in the forefront of the industry. We had a part-time bereavement counselor and a volunteer chaplain.”
Tracey has also seen changes in the field of nursing over the last 35 years. “Technology and medications have played a significant role in the healthcare industry,” shared Tracey. “People are being kept alive longer and getting much sicker, resulting in more end-of-life care needs. When we first started as an organization many of our patients had been diagnosed with cancer; now no two patients are alike and no illness is alike. With more complex terminal diseases, nurses now need to know a great deal more and education is huge. Hospice & Community Care is fortunate to have an internal education department.”
She shared that clinicians are finding that family caregivers are savvier and go online for answers, resulting in higher expectations in their loved one’s end-of-life care. And, Tracey experienced that firsthand recently when she was no longer just an employee, but a patient family.
“If you’re a clinician in the hospice industry you understand what hospice is medically,” shared Tracey. “But, being part of my dad’s caregiving team taught me more about what hospice really is. We know that hospice individualizes care for each patient’s wishes and needs, but it really goes beyond that and individualizes the needs of each family member.”
So, with all of these changes, what does Tracey enjoy most about working at Hospice & Community Care? “I get to work with excellent staff,” she shared. “Everybody comes to work wanting to do the best that they can. As team members, we are there for one another, and I am proud to say that I work at Hospice & Community Care.
“My dad died with our mother whispering in his ear how much she loved him and the unbelievable life and experiences that he gave her and his two daughters while Johnny Cash was singing ‘You are My Sunshine’ in the background,” shared Tracey.
This is what Hospice & Community Care is all about, and this is why Tracey has been with us for 35 years.