#lehigh valley hospice
Lehigh Valley Hospital hospice nurse takes caring to the next level
Jeanne Vogt, director of hospice care at Lehigh Valley Hospital. tells her new hires nursing goes beyond what you learn in school.
“What we look for is the heart in nurses for hospice care,” Vogt said.
Consider Lisa Bickel.
A hospice nurse for 28 years, Bickel was nominated by Vogt for an excellence in nursing award for the way she handled a patient’s final moments about a year ago at the 17th Street Allentown facility.
The Berks County woman was caring for a terminally ill woman who had three young children and very little time left.
“(The children) were on the unit, but we didn’t want them in the room when she actually died,” Bickel said.
Instead, Bickel and the patient’s sister picked out three stuffed teddy bears. Before giving them to the young children as gifts, Bickel placed the three bears in the arms of their mother, who would pass away that night.
“I kept the teddy bears as close to her heart as I could and told the kids that they were close to her heart all night, and that she’d always be a part of them,” Bickel said. “It’s something they could have the rest of their lives.”
It was the sort of caring gesture Vogt had come to expect from Bickel in their three years of working together. It’s what helped her win the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Dr. Fred Fister Award for Excellence in Hospice Nursing. She received the award at a ceremony last month.
“Lisa works night shifts and usually when you have night-shift nurses they don’t get to be as much of a part of the team,” Vogt said. “But she’s just so phenomenal because she has created such an incredible team spirit.”
Vogt said her nomination for Bickel went beyond her gesture for the patient’s children and was meant to also acknowledge the “little things” Bickel does for the hospice.
“We’ve had employees go through hardships, and Lisa is the one who puts out emails to get everyone together, make them aware and (organize help),” Vogt said.
Bickel also regularly places inspirational messages in the break room for her co-workers to read during the day, Vogt said.
For Bickel, the award reflects a belief she’s developed in her three decades of work.
“Our society looks at death as something feared and something awful, but it really can be quite peaceful and be another passage,” Bickel said.
Bickel said she and her team look to make patients and their loved ones as comfortable as possible and to give them the opportunity to have special moments near the end of loved ones’ lives.
Bickel’s award reflects her compassion.
“What nurses will find out is that it’s truly a gift to be able to be at the bedside with a patient and their family,” Vogt said. “It’s a true expression for the labor of love and the emotion it creates. Lisa embodies that emotion.”