I wanted to share a story with you today, a story of passion from one person sharing his talent to hospice patients.
Ain’t no Mountain High Enough
Our beloved musician volunteer, Sam Hazlewood, may not be singing Diana Ross and the Supremes, but he is demonstrating the theme, “Nothing can keep me from you.”
Sam’s performances include favorite sing-alongs and anecdotes, and he has shared his gift with HOM since 2012. Before the pandemic restrictions, he was seeing over 25 patients at one time, keeping all on track with a notebook and a “gig” schedule so each patient had 1-2 music sessions per month.
Since August of 2018, Sam had been taking his guitar and beautiful smile to a patient in the north and playing for sometimes over two hours. So when the pandemic hit, it hit Sam pretty hard.
“This is my purpose,” Sam will tell you. And there is no doubt it is. There had to be a way to let the music play.
With the collaboration of the nurse, social worker, VPC, and activities director at the facility, “Video Musician Visits” emerged. Sam had his first performance on April 21 with his patient along with two others he had previously played for and one new patient.
Coordination and help from the facility activity director drive the success of these visits, besides Sam’s charm of course. A time is set that is best for the patient and Sam gets tuned and ready. The facility calls into Sam’s tablet from their tablet and sets it up in the patient’s room. The performance usually lasts 20-40 minutes, then facility staff will “pick Sam up in the tablet” and take him to the next patient.
“One patient was singing right along,” Sam said, “and when she got to the point where she seemed tired I told her it was ok, she could just rest and let me sing.
“Sometimes I’m not sure they are all that awake but then when I’m done, they’ll say ‘thank you,’ so I know they are hearing me.”
On May 19, Sam had his gig scheduled, but the patient he had been seeing since 2018 took a turn and was now in the “active phase” of passing. The VPC called Sam to let him know he may not be playing for her today. But when he connected via video to the facility they said, “Yes, we still want you to play for her.” So Sam was able to share his purpose one more time with his patient in a very special way.
Sam is a special human, as are all of you. There are countless stories such as this, and we thank all of you who have found the way to continue phone or video contact with your patients since the onset of this pandemic.
There is definitely no mountain high enough for our volunteers. You are truly remarkable and so loved!
The Cadillac Area Community Foundation has granted Michigan Hospice funds to purchase 9 tablets, to improve quality during treatments, medications, services, grief support, and spiritual care of patients and families in need.
Happy September, Doreen