ProMedica Hospice serving Monroe and Lenawee Counties is fortunate to have over 50 volunteers who provide support in various ways to patients at end-of-life. One of the ways patients are supported is through the Vet-to-Vet volunteer program where a veteran volunteer provides support to veteran patients. Jeri, volunteer coordinator, tells about a recent Veteran’s Day experience and the impact Ray Maliszewski, veteran volunteer, has made on the ProMedica team:
“Ray has been a volunteer since 2017. In his service as a veteran volunteer, he has assisted with multiple veteran recognition ceremonies honoring veteran patients receiving hospice care. He also provided companionship visits to veterans in local facilities and was one of our veteran volunteers for the newly implemented ‘Legacy Canteen’, in which veterans gather monthly at a local facility and share stories and experiences.
When Veteran’s Day was approaching and since no formal gatherings were permitted this year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), I had planned to distribute stars from ‘Stars for Our Troops’ to our veteran patients, as well as our veteran volunteers.
I had trouble contacting Ray and finally discovered he was a patient at ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital. When I heard Ray was in the hospital, I knew how much this star would mean to him. With the help of Yolanda, RN liaison, and the nurses at the hospital, Ray received his star.
Two days later, I received a call from Bill, a local businessman. He stated that Ray had been calling his business by mistake for the last two days trying to contact me, as Bill’s business number is similar to the hospital’s number and Ray thought the hospital could transfer the call to me. Ray told Bill his story about how he is a veteran volunteer, had just received the star and wanted to thank me for having it delivered to him. Bill recognized the importance of locating me and was able to track me down and connect me with Ray.
Ray and I spoke for quite some time, sharing laughs and a few tears when he spoke of receiving the star. Ray said the star meant so much, especially when the nurse read the statement about where it came from. He told me, ‘When I get out of here, I’m going frame it.’ He also let me know he was going to be transferred to a facility for rehab the next day and would be in touch.
The following week I was notified by Ray’s granddaughter that he had taken a turn in his recovery and was sent back to the hospital on a ventilator. On November 28, Ray passed away. Ray will be dearly missed by our hospice team. We learned that even during these challenging times, the acts of many people, including the hospital staff and Bill, prove that a simple act of kindness can mean so much to so many.
We are so thankful to Ray’s family for sharing him with the hospice team over the last few years. I’m also thankful to Bill, who took the time to locate me so Ray and I could have one more visit.”