By Joe Mellenbruch
Death is hardly ever an easy thing for people to endure, and for those nearing the final stages of life, it’s comforting for them to know that the people surrounding them are familiar, that those caring for them know them on a personal level.
That is an essential service offered by the Mercy Hospice, stationed in Devils Lake, which offers medical care, compassion and support to the terminally ill and their families.
Much of the staff at Mercy Hospice is local, including hospice nurse Barb Haugland, RN, and social worker Berta Soper, LSW, who have both been employed at Mercy for only a matter of months. However, both women have lived most of their lives in Devils Lake. According to them, the fact that the Mercy staff is predominantly local makes the service they offer that much more comforting to the patients they care for.
“I love the local component,” said Haugland, who started working for Mercy Hospice in February. “We’re able to service people that we know, people that we’ve grown with over the years. And that’s me. I enjoy helping people that I’ve gotten to know over the years.”
Haugland has been a nurse for over 30 years and has worked in a number of different areas of nursing, including pediatrics, geriatrics and hospice as well. According to her, hospice has been an extraordinary experience for her after just seven months at Mercy.
“I’ve had so many experiences in my experiences with the hospice already,” Haugland said. “There are such heartwarming stories that I’m a part of, lives that are so encouraging to me. I’m so happy for the opportunity to work here.”
Soper feels the same way as Haugland with regard to to local element that Mercy Hospice brings to it’s patients, and in fact, she’s heard directly from patients that they prefer to be cared for by people that they know personally.
“We’re going into people’s homes. It’s a very intimate program because people are approaching the ends of their lives,” Soper said. “In that circumstance, its much nicer to be with people that you know and that you’re comfortable with.”
Soper has been in social work for over 30 years, and much of her experience has dealt in working with families, something that is very much a part of working for a hospice center.
“A hospice program is just unbelievable in what it can do for families,” Soper said. “This program fits in with my values, my spirituality. It’s inspiring. I am so honored to be a part of this experience and to share it with the families we care for.”