Daniel Huber, RN, started working as a home hospice nurse for the VNA just over two years ago, switching gears from an intense job as an emergency room nurse – and he’s never looked back. “It’s the first time in my nursing career that I can give my patients 100% of my nursing ability and attention because in the emergency room they give you 5,6,7,8 patients (at once) and the only time I get to see my patients is when I’m sticking them with a needle or giving them paperwork to discharge,” says Daniel. “In hospice, if the patient needs two hours of my time, they have two hours.”
Daniel wasn’t always so optimistic about being a hospice nurse. Initially, he had concerns about the unique emotional challenges that treating patients with terminal illnesses might entail, but once he began, those concerns were quelled, at least as far as the patients were concerned. “The dying process doesn’t bother me as much as the patient’s family; sometimes it’s hard to watch the family struggle,” he says.
And the patients greatly appreciate Daniel’s commitment and compassion. “I had a patient tell me a couple of weeks ago that this is the first time a nurse has ever given him 100% of their time and attention, and that’s because we’re hospice…we get to say, ‘You need more of our time, I can do it,” says Daniel. “For instance, this morning I saw one of my patients, it’s a 15-minute visit. She’s a very lovely lady. She’s 79 years old and she’s got shortness of breath, COPD, and she’s on oxygen and lives alone, so I try to spend extra time with her because really, we’re the only interaction she gets. She doesn’t drive, or if she does it’s very minimal, and her family all lives up north, so the only time she talks to them is on video chat; I’m really the only outside person she gets to talk to.”
Daniel recalls how recently this same patient had a mouse running around in her house and his 15-minute appointment with her turned into a much longer one as he arranged for a pest control company to come out to the house and get rid of the rodent.
He is also grateful for VNA’s Hospice Medical Director, Dr. Venazio. “It’s having the autonomy and the faith that doctor Venazio has in the nurses, and you just can’t beat this job,” he says.
VNA Hospice is provided wherever a patient calls home, whether that’s a skilled nursing facility, assisted living facility, memory care or patient’s own home. And when a patient’s care can no longer be managed at home, they can stay at VNA Hospice House, an elegant yet cozy state-of-the-art facility with 12 well-appointed private rooms, a private chef, relaxing space for family and friends, and 24/7 nursing care.
VNA is the only non-profit home health and hospice organization in Indian River County proudly caring for our community for over 45 years. If you’d like to find out more about VNA Hospice or any of VNA’s home care services, visit www.vnatc.com or call us at 772-202-3972.