Employee Spotlight: Paula Schrock-Bending

Name: Paula Schrock-Bending, Care Center Nurse

How long have you worked here?
I answered an ad in the paper in 1994 for a CNA. I had done patient care my whole life but I wanted to do something alongside going to nursing school. So I came over and trained with staff and went through all the shifts. As a nurse when I graduated in 1997, there wasn’t a position for a RN, so I waited patiently and then I came on board in 2000 as a RN. So 16 years.

What made you decide to work here?
I answered the ad primarily because a Felician Sister, who was my lab partner in a chemistry course at Madonna, said, “Paula you need to go into that hospice field. Sister Giovanni has just opened up a Care Center and you need to go.” I said, “No, I don’t know if I want to do that,” because death and dying to me was very scary. I wanted to work with the geriatric clientele but I didn’t want to do it at the end stage. But then I decided, OK, why not?

I was pleasantly surprised working for Angela Hospice…My youngest patient was eight weeks old and my oldest patient was 105, so we went through the life span of taking care of patients. Then the diagnoses weren’t generic, they were all over the map. It’s been a wonder.

As the years have gone by, oh my gosh, this company…it’s all of us who have kept this company going and our beliefs and the compassion and empathy that we do for these patients, and it’s us that have turned this company into what it has produced. That’s why I’m still here, because we do great work.

Paula with a patient, Rita, in the old Care Center.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Every day is very unique. It’s just not the same. I mean there might be a same face but it might be a different quirk or a different expression. We are presented with so many different things on a daily basis and that’s why I like it. It’s unpredictable and it’s challenging and it’s wonderful, and I love the excitement about that. I love coming in and working with my co-workers. We’ve got a great team and we respect each other.

What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
My co-workers, and then knowing that I can provide high standards of nursing with my patients and know that I’m doing everything in my power to make patients and families have the care that they deserve. I love the challenges of everything that we get in there. It’s not boring, and that’s what I love. I’m so blessed that I found that ad in the paper. I love what I do.

Also, being a preceptor – I love to teach about hospice and how we work at Angela Hospice. I’ve been doing this for probably eight or nine years, teaching students from Schoolcraft, Eastern, Madonna, U of M Flint, Henry Ford.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
That’s hard to pick. There’s one ALS patient in particular and I still remember his words. He had been here three-and-a-half years and he was a friend of mine before he came here. He could only move his head back and forth, and he could swallow, maybe move his finger a little. Every wrinkle under his skin bothered him. The more the disease progressed it was more bothersome so he would go, “Just one more, just one more thing.” I never, ever said anything about it and he said, “You never say anything about my ‘one more thing.’” I said, “Why would I?” Then we had a little conversation about that. My point to bring up was he looked at me with those eyes, and I’ll never forget this, and he said, “Paula, thank God for your health.” And I said, “Every day.” You know, you take for granted some of the things that you have, but at this point, some of the patients and families that we take care of, there’s no material things left and it’s just surviving another second, minute, day. For him to say that, it has stuck with me the rest of my life.

Paula (left) received her 15-year service award last year.
There was another patient who we would know was in pain because she would start repeating her words. She had her pain medication and I went in there and I thought, let’s sing a song. The first song that popped into my brain was “You Are My Sunshine.” So I started singing softly to her and the repeating started slowing down. Then she stopped and she started singing the song with me. For about 15 minutes we were in there singing softly and I was rubbing her hand until she went to sleep. Those are other moments I take from this position. It’s just the gentleness that you learn to do here. It’s those kinds of “bonus moments” I call them, because you don’t always get those, and you don’t always expect thank-yous, but we do get those. What I expect is for my patients to be pain-free, have symptom management, and the family is happy. What I don’t expect but I get are these little gestures – like if a patient is unresponsive and they raise their hand and they touch me, or smile, or just their eyes looking at you – you don’t need words. That’s what is wonderful about this position. That you get so much back.

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