Woman Celebrates 25 Years Of Hospice Volunteer Work
Published: April 22, 2006 | 4063rd good news item since 2003
The Rockingham Memorial Hospital Hospice has been providing care to terminally ill patients since 1981.
During that time, hundreds of volunteers have selflessly given up their time to make people’s lives better.
Though many volunteers have come and gone, one that has remained a constant is Ruth Batten.
The 75-year-old Batten grew up wanting to be a nurse. She always had a love of helping others.
While she never became a registered nurse, she did succeed in her desire to provide care to the sick.
Batten has spent time in nursing homes, hospital rooms and individual homes, caring for those who may have only months to live.
She and the hospice program celebrate their 25th anniversary of caring for the terminally ill.
Caring For Others
Batten, a Harrisonburg resident, has given 8,000 hours in her 25 years as a volunteer. She made home and hospital visits for 10 years before moving to the hospice office on Stone Spring Road.
Presently, she gives her time coordinating the RMH Hospice Foundation work as well as keeping track of volunteer’s hours for the Medicare program.
The way people’s attitudes have changed toward the program is what Batten remembers the most.
“There was a man who resorted to swinging his cane at us because he was so mad about being sent to the hospice,” she said. “But after he spent just one night there, he did not want to leave.”
The theme for the majority of the volunteers is that great love can be given in small doses.
“There are no small jobs,” said Phil Ewald, a volunteer of five months. “You can’t do this job without a lot of caring and a lot of love.”
Ewald commits his time to sending personalized birthday and anniversary cards.
Ready For Help
Batten has seen through the years that her efforts have enriched the lives of the hospice patients and their families. Although, she says, sometimes patients have a hard time letting the volunteers into their lives.
“Not a lot of people want strangers to come into their house,” she said. “But once they realize that we are they to help them, they invite us into their lives.”
The volunteers explained just knowing that someone cares is enough for a lot of people.
“Sometimes you don’t even need to say anything at all,” Batten said. “There are different ways of providing comfort to people.