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Nursing and Radiology Students Learn the Benefits of Hospice Care

Posted Apr. 12, 2012

 Danielle Procopio, community relations director at SouthernCare, speaks with KSU at Salem students on hospice care.

Salem, Ohio – As part of their classroom experience this semester, students from Kent State University at Salem’s radiation therapy program learned about hospice care from Danielle Procopio, community relations director at SouthernCare, a local hospice provider located in Austintown.

Shellie Warino, clinical coordinator for the radiation therapy program, said she helped coordinate the program because radiation therapists oftentimes treat patients who are suffering, thus receiving palliative care.

“I wanted our students to better understand hospice care so they could be an advocate for quality of life care for their patients,” she said.

Procopio explained that hospice was created to support, through whatever means were necessary, those who are terminally ill and have six months or less to live. This care could come in the form of medicine, counseling and support – physical, emotional and spiritual. Although it is often thought of as a provision for those with cancer, many patients have other terminal diseases.

“People don’t understand that hospice is there to help and comfort patients,” she said. “So much as changed in the past 10 years.”

During the hour-long presentation, Procopio walked both radiation therapy and nursing students through hospice care. She explained what hospice is, how it started and what it provides. Using a fact sheet that was provided to all attendees, Procopio explained the various requirements patients must have in order to qualify for the service.  She also explained what students should ask their patients to see if they want the support of hospice.

Both senior radiation therapy students Sierra Ammon and Sarah Stoklosa said they found the program very informative, with Stoklosa noting that she learned a lot, especially hospice’s many benefits and all the services it could provide to patients.

Procopio noted that numerous volunteer opportunities were available to students if they think they would like to work in hospice care. She said volunteering was a good way to see if a student would enjoy this line of work, and that many nurses, volunteers or students who do enjoy it stay for a very long time. “These nurses have decided that they want to become a part of this transition through life,” Procopio said of hospice nurses. “They become part of the family. It’s a gift these nurses choose to give.”

Following the presentation, Warino said all 10 of her radiation students scheduled to learn how to become hospice volunteers starting in the summer semesters.

For more information on SouthernCare, hospice services, or volunteering opportunities, please contact Procopio at 330-797-8940.