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Ilene Kotajarvi

Hospice Volunteer Coordinator

OSF Hospice


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OSF Hospice

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According to Ilene Kotajarvi, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator with OSF Hospice, there are patients who have either outlived their family members, been alienated from family and friends, or who have no family nearby.
To register for the training session, or for more information, please call Ilene Kotajarvi at (906) 786-3915.

According to Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Kotajarvi, the cart is wheeled into the patient's room, which offers convenience for care providers while providing a welcome distraction for patients.
In addition to a CD player and music, the cart offers a host of supplies designed to soothe both patient and family during their hospital stay. "Such items as quilts, Bibles and prayer booklets, books and children's books may be taken home by the family, to help provide ongoing comfort," said Kotajarvi. Invited were Kotajarvi, representing Hospice, and OSF St. Francis Hospital Palliative Care Team representative Linda Lanasa, whose specialty is dealing with patients during their final days - providing comfort to them and their families. For more information about hospice care or to inquire about becoming a volunteer, call OSF Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Kotajarvi, 786-4456 ext. 20.

It can be for many reasons including some people are literally outliving their families," said Ilene Kotajarvi, Hospice/NODA volunteer coordinator with OSF Home Care Services.
"It began with the vision of one woman and now NODA programs are in place throughout the United States, Europe and Singapore," Kotajarvi said. "OSF Home Care Services partners with local health care facilities to provide trained volunteers for situations when someone is in the last hours of life and does not wish to be alone," Kotajarvi said. She added that ManorCare has been open to making NODA available to their patients. They have introduced the volunteers to the staff and given them a tour of the facility. "ManorCare has been just great to work with," Kotajarvi said. No nursing skills are needed to be a volunteer - just compassion, caring and dedication. The volunteer needs to commit to at least 2-4 hours a month and be willing to be on call during the time they have chosen. "We believe that when someone is born, they should be surrounded by love and feel the same way when someone is dying. We do our best to provide that service," Kotajarvi added. According to Kotajarvi, the program is not intended to take the place of nursing care. The volunteers are trained to sit and offer comfort only. With the facilities it partners with, OSF provides them with a tote bag containing a Bible, rosary and rosary prayer card, book of devotions, CD player and CDs. Kotajarvi speaks highly of the volunteers involved in Hospice as well as the NODA program in Dickinson County. To learn more about NODA or becoming a Hospice volunteer with OSF Home Care Services, call Kotajarvi at (906) 786-3915.

According to Ilene Kotajarvi, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator for OSF Hospice, the program is not limited to individuals who have been involved in the Hospice program, but to anyone in the community.
"When people experience grief, their response can be from a recent loss or one that took place many years ago," she said. "The important thing is for individuals to feel that their experiences are real for them." Kotajarvi said the team can provide a warm, caring and confidential environment that allows the grieving individual the opportunity to be supported by others who understand. "They are not alone in this process," she said. "Groups can help in the grief recovery, group members understand that others have experienced similar emotional and psychological grief-related problems. And groups help members heal and find hope through trust, openness and honesty." Kotajarvi said the grief group is open to the public for anyone who has experienced loss no matter how long ago the loss was. "With some people there's never a closure, whether its something the person realizes or doesn't realize," she said. "It can go on for years. But everyone's different." Even with group support, Kotajarvi said healing may take much longer than the four weeks of grief support. "Some can begin the healing sooner while others take longer," she said. "The problem is we don't deal with grief in our society. A loved one dies and you get three days off of work and then you are expected to be over it and get back to work. It doesn't work that way." Kotajarvi said an additional four-week support group will be offered in the fall.

"To date, we have had 25 patients in the Hospice program here in Dickinson County," said Ilene Kotajarvi, OSF Hospice volunteer coordinator.
"This first group of volunteers have all had patients and we've heard nothing but positive things about the work they've done." The OSF Hospice program came to Dickinson County on Jan. 1. Kotajarvi said that the OSF Hospice program in Delta County was the first in the state of Michigan. We are here for them - they don't have to wait until the last few days to get help," Kotajarvi said. She added that terminal means that someone has six month or less left if the disease runs its natural course. The volunteers do not perform patient care and can't give medications, Kotajarvi said. "They are a companion and can do light housekeeping, but most of all they are to be a friend," she said. Kotajarvi also brought a Reverie Harp to the recent meeting for volunteers as music therapy for patients. The harp can be used with patients who aren't able to communicate. She demonstrated the harp and showed how the volunteers can play it and put it up to the ear of a patient so they can hear the vibration. Kotajarvi said that they are flexible with the schedules for volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Kotajarvi, volunteer coordinator or Marci Anderson, Home Care Hospice coordinator at (906) 786-3915.

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