Connie Yeager was never much of a card player, but as a Heritage Hospice volunteer she likes the hand she’s been dealt.
The Lancaster woman, who took hospice volunteer training in September, is working with her first patient. She has been shuffling quite a few cards during her patient visits.
“We have a wonderful time together. He has taught me to play Phase 10, a card game.”
Yeager’s weekly visits allow her patient’s wife to take a break from being a caregiver and leave the house for three hours.
“She goes shopping or out to lunch while I am there.”
As card players are apt to do, Yeager and her patient converse about other topics during the game.
“I find him enjoyable. I learned he has painted several pictures hanging in his home.”
Yeager says her patient shows a lot of gratitude for her visits, but she views the volunteer work as rewarding.
“He told me at my last visit, ‘I love you.’ Well, I love him and his precious wife.“
As a nurse, Yeager was drawn to working with the organization that provides end-of-life care to patients and their families in the counties of Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties. A nursing instructor at Bluegrass College and Technical School, Yeager was motivated to take the volunteer training because she was curious about this aspect of care.
“My nursing career has covered everything but being a hospice nurse, so this is an opportunity to work with hospice patients.”
Volunteers have several ways to assist hospice other than patient care, and Yeager has experienced some of those, too.
In addition to dealing out cards, Yeager’s volunteer work has included helping with a holiday open house at Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford and a March 3 tea at Hammonds Halls in Lancaster.
Many potential volunteers shy away from working with patients, but Yeager prefers it.
“I have served at the open house and the tea benefit, but most importantly, I now have my patient.”
For anyone considering taking the bi-annual volunteer training, which is set 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 24 at Heritage Hospice, 120 Enterprise Drive, Yeager lists three characteristics they should possess: “be dependable, caring and kind.”
Yeager, whose red hair may provide some insight into an equally glowing heart, finds much in her life to keep that vital organ pumping hard.
“My work, I love. I teach in all three levels in the BCTC nursing program and get to know and love (for the most part) all of our students.
She began her nursing career in 1976 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington. She veered way off course of the original pathway to her career.
“When I started, I eloped and got kicked out,” she recalls of training with nuns with St. Joseph. When the youngest of her and husband Bill’s five children started school, Yeager dusted off the books.
“After five children, I decided I still wanted to be a nurse and I went back to school,” says Yeager, 74. She was 51 when she completed her bachelor’s degree.
Yeager began teaching at the Danville Practical School of Nursing in 1994. For a brief time, the school convened in the current location of Big Lots. She is amazed the nursing program is celebrating in its 10th year at its current Lebanon Road location.
“I was a part of that since they dug the first hole in the ground,” says Yeager, whose office wall has a plaque with a gold shovel on it to commemorate the occasion.
Hospice volunteer training set
Heritage Hospice is seeking volunteers to serve patients in Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties. Volunteers can aid with clerical work, fundraising and patient care. Training is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 24 at Heritage Hospice,Inc., 120 Enterprise Drive, Danville. Register by March 21 by calling (859) 236-2425 or (800) 203-6633.