ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mercedes Baila believes sincerely in the hospice mission of providing quality, compassionate end-of-life care to those who are dealing with a terminal diagnosis. She became a volunteer at Silverado Hospice Los Angeles in 2013 and says that her experience working with hospice patients has been "life-changing".
Mercedes makes weekly visits to her patients who are affected by dementia and Alzheimer's and are in the later stages of the disease process. Her visit activities vary based on her patient's condition and how they are feeling physically and mentally. Mercedes, a professional Flamenco dancer, has danced with them or simply held their hands. Oftentimes, a comforting presence is all a patient needs.
"Before becoming a hospice volunteer, I never knew that I could love someone I didn't know that whole heartedly," shares Mercedes. "And I like knowing that families feel that there is someone there to support them and their loved one."
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that there are more than 355,000 trained hospice volunteers contributing more than 16 million hours of service to hospice organizations across the country.
"Volunteers play an integral role in hospice care and each and every one deserves recognition and the highest accolades. From direct patient support and caregiver relief, to administrative support in a local hospice office, hospice volunteers selflessly give of their time to serve patients and families who are facing end-of-life challenges," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.
Mercedes has shared her story as part of a national campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice, which shows that hospice is not about giving up, but rather making more meaningful moments possible. In "The Gift of Volunteering", viewers are given a glimpse into the life of a hospice volunteer as the camera follows Mercedes on two separate patient visits. Mercedes and her patients dance, smile, laugh, cry and live in the moment.
"We often say that volunteers are the heart of hospice," says Schumacher. "Their gift of caring has a profound impact on patients and families and we cannot say thank you enough for the support they provide."
NHPCO, Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications
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SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization