Tuesday, September 27, 2011

State of the Heart Hospice Helps Employees Deal With Loss in the Work Place

Marlene Black, Bereavement Specialist for State of the Heart
The recent situation was a unique one for State of the Heart Hospice: An employee of an Indiana company had died suddenly, leaving a close-knit work force grieving for their co-worker of 17 years. State of the Heart was called upon to help with grief support for the firm in Portland, Indiana.

“I realized we had a need, but I did not know who to call for help,” explained Crystal Kahut, Human Resource Specialist for the Joyce-Dayton Corporation which has offices in Dayton, Clayton and Portland. “We are a very close, family-oriented company, and our employees view one another as more than a co-worker.”

Kahut immediately began her search for grief support and was soon directed to State of the Heart Hospice and Marlene Black, Bereavement Specialist for the agency. With offices in Portland, Greenville and Coldwater, State of the Heart cares for families and patients in eastern Indiana and western Ohio who are confronting a life limiting illness.

“I was impressed with how quickly the company reacted in this situation,” Black said. Within a short time, Black and Darlene Pearson, a State of the Heart Social Worker who helps with grief support went to the company and spent time talking with those who were distressed about the sudden loss of a fellow employee. Their time spent with those at the company was at no cost to Joyce-Dayton.

In addition, the two hospice employees left literature for Kahut to share with employees. She took pamphlets around the plant, leaving the materials in tool boxes and at work stations. “I felt this was the right thing to do to provide help and support to our employees,” Kahut said. “I let them know that the folks from State of the Heart would be available to talk with them anytime.”

Bereavement support is an important part of hospice care. Patient families can receive grief support services up to 13 months after a patient has died. There is no cost for any of the services. State of the Heart provides grief support to anyone in the community who is grieving, regardless of association with hospice care. Support is provided to adults, children and teens.

The non-profit agency which is observing 30 years of service to area communities has become a community resource for grief support. Bereavement specialists go into schools to help students deal with grief and loss, particularly when there has been a tragic loss of life for one of the students or school staff.

The experience with the Portland company was a ‘first’ for State of the Heart, Black explained. “It would be great if more companies were to use our bereavement services. It would be a real service to employees to have such support. If you can help the employees deal with their grief, it helps the overall work environment. It shows the employee that the company cares for them. I was really impressed with Joyce-Dayton for the way they handled this. Their actions say a lot about the company.”

As a gesture of gratitude, Joyce-Dayton made a donation to State of the Heart, directing it to bereavement support. Kahut told Black, “I can’t quit thinking about the service your organization provides and what a help it was to us.”

State of the Heart Hospice offers one-on-one grief support, grief support meetings for adults and youth, grief support sessions at schools, and an annual camp called Camp BEARable for young people who are dealing with grief and loss. There is no charge for any of the grief support services the non-profit agency provides. Black said that if any companies have a similar situation where employees are impacted by the loss of a fellow co-worker, they can call her for assistance. There is no charge.

For more information about State of the Heart, go to the agency web site at www.stateoftheheartcare.org.

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