Hospices all across the nation are celebrating their clients and employees during the month of November, which is designated as National Hospice Awareness Month.
Mabel Webb, 76, of Rio Vista, has devoted her life to caring for others as she celebrates 24 years as a certified nurse’s assistant with Hospice of the Bluegrass Mountain Heritage.
Hospice is a type of care that focuses primarily on the comfort of patients with life limiting and terminal illnesses. Patients enrolled in hospice care have frequently been diagnosed with an illness leaving them with six months or less to live.
“I go to the family home and do personal care, or if there is something in the room connected to the patient’s care, such as dusting or cleaning, I do that also,” said Webb. “I also help some in medical records.”
In the beginning, Webb served as a volunteer coordinator and spiritual counselor with Hospice.
“I would go into the homes and read the Bible to the patients,” said Webb. “I’d take my cassette player and play gospel music for them also. In my service with Hospice I have seen many saved just from hearing comforting words. Hospice has been so rewarding for me. When I go into that room and someone might not be able to even raise their hand,. And, if their nose is itching, they can’t scratch it. It’s rewarding to know that today I helped someone who couldn’t help themselves.”
Webb said she is often asked why she has stayed with Hospice for 24 years. She replies, “At the end of the day I feel good and I can say ‘thank you Lord I helped someone who couldn’t help themselves.’”
“God gives me my strength,” said Webb. “When Hospice first began a lot of it was volunteer. Elaine Cox and Bernice Reynolds began Hospice and now it has expanded tremendously. When Hospice of the Bluegrass took over Bell County, I requested to work there. Working in Harlan County, as long as I had, I knew most of the families and it’s hard to go in on those who you personally know and help take care of them knowing they aren’t going to get better. I have done this, but now I, basically, work in Bell County and occasionally in Harlan County if they need me.”
Prior to working with Hospice, Webb worked 27 years at the Harlan ARH Hospital when it was called the Miners Memorial Hospital. She said she began working there six weeks before the hospital officially opened.
“I worked in the kitchen, five years as a ward clerk and 20 years in the business office and admissions,” said Webb. “After that I went to Hospice. I hope to continue working with Hospice and will as long as my patients and the families are getting the care they expect and I’m happy with my work.”
A member of Verda Baptist Church, Webb and her late husband, Billy, have two children. Webb notes she lost her daughter, Donna, who was a registered nurse at Harlan ARH Hospital, three years ago. She has two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.