For nearly 40 years, The Hospice of Baton Rouge has been helping families through one of the most difficult times of their lives. What began solely as offering services to assist people toward the end of life has been driven by a compassion so strong that it’s carrying over to other community efforts.
The Hospice of Baton Rouge provides a wide array of services, with case managers, social workers, chaplains and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) assigned to each family receiving traditional hospice care. Under the leadership of CEO Catherine Schendel and COO Jeff Williams, the organization’s holistic approach to support takes their services far beyond medical care; it extends to offering the best quality of life possible. Some days, staff may be found painting patients’ finger-nails or worshiping with them. While care is primarily geared toward patients’ medical needs, the Hospice of Baton Rouge prioritizes building relationships and spending quality time with patients and their families.
Social workers on a patient’s care team are as essential as those assigned to help with physical needs; determining where the patient will be most comfortable and walking families through insurance issues can provide a semblance of peace for those who are having to come to grips with what losing a loved one may look like.
Williams, who was a chaplain when he began working at The Hospice of Baton Rouge, understands the importance of offering spiritual support, too.
“I’m not sure people realize that chaplains do a lot of listening—for both patients and their families,” he says. “A huge part of all of our jobs here is helping people understand that the range of emotions they’re experiencing is okay.”
Both Williams and Schendel believe that to truly show that com-passion externally, a company must do the same with its own team.
“We all became acutely aware of the importance of work-life balance during Covid, and we’re trying to preserve that as we move forward,” said Schendel. “Our employees do amazing, hard work every day, so it’s even more important that we preserve and protect their quality of life as well as our patients’.”
From conceptualizing a community-based palliative care program to working with families during and after a grieving process to offering specialized grief camps for children, the Hospice of Baton Rouge is determined to continue expand-ing services so that every person is able to face the toughest times of their lives with quality care and compassion.
“Our goal is to make people feel valued and comfortable,” said Schendel. “We are constantly reminding our-selves that compassion is not doing things that will make us feel better about ourselves; it’s providing the best for those around us.”