The quilt legacy was started by Elaine Bain and Beverly Hefner, nursing assistants at Bradley Home Health and Hospice. They felt having patient families contribute their own personal quilt square to the hospice quilt would be a meaningful way to honor and remember loved ones.
Although the process of making the quilt is different now, the legacy of honoring patients is the same. Betty’s Quilt Shop on Keith Street has donated its services for more than 10 years to the agency.
Susan Harper, chaplain and bereavement and volunteer coordinator, said when she looks at or works on the quilt, she is reminded of the stories and lived testimonies of the persons whose lives impacted her own life’s journey. “I came to this agency in 1993,” she said, “when it was Bradley Home Health and Hospice.” She said she had no formal hospice experience, although she had worked as a nurse and chaplain with many people who had died and with their grieving families.
“Surprisingly,” she added, “in addition to the wisdom and experience of the hospice staff, my greatest teachers were the patients and families themselves. I witnessed in their struggles with life and death — miracles of courage, endurance, faith in a loving God, peace, anticipation of heaven and so much else that healed my heart.”
Carlyn Marr began working at Bradley Memorial Hospital Home Health in June 1985, a year after the agency began as a volunteer program. The home health staff felt the patient with a terminal illness still had multiple needs and the families needed support, but this did not qualify them for skilled services through Medicare Home Health benefit. She became director of Home Health in 1987 and director of hospice in 1988.
Hospice social worker Lana Whisman walked through the doors of Bradley Memorial Hospice — the first in Bradley County — in 1985 to attend the Volunteer Training Program. Several months later, she joined the agency as a social worker, then became the hospice coordinator and eventually the hospice director. In 1997, Whisman said, her sister Katy Mosses of McMinn County needed hospice services and “I knew she would receive deeply personal care with Bradley Memorial Hospice.” Even though Whisman was not employed there at the time, that was the agency chosen. “Her name is on the quilt for that year,” she added.
Dr. Daniel Vance has served as medical director since the agency was founded and served in a volunteer capacity for several years. His knowledge, compassion, wisdom and wit are uncommon and Whisman said the team holds him in high esteem. Dr. Vance has a personal knowledge of hospice care since several family members need that level of care — his father and two uncles. “We were not surprised when his contributions were recognized outside our area,” Whisman said, “and Community Health Systems recruited him to be their National Hospice medical director for home care division.
“Our hospice has a lot of history in the community and I think it’s important to honor that history,” Administrator Dorenda Young said. “As a hospice provider, we can provide services beyond what home health can provide and services are available to patients of any age or illness.” The hospice benefit also includes grief and bereavement counseling for 13 months after a loved one’s passing.
Louise Dills said, “I have been blessed to work as the hospice secretary this year.” Since she primarily talks with patients and their families via telephone and coordinates the paperwork, she does not actually meet the patients.
“That is why I appreciate the quilt so much,” she said. “As I scan the photos and place them onto quilt squares, I remember the phone calls and can match names with faces.” She said patients and their loved ones become “a second family to us” and paying this small tribute to their memory “enriches our lives as well.”
One of the hospice nurses said, “Every day I pass by the quilts that hang so lovingly in our office and every day I focus on a different brave face — Sarah enjoyed gardening ... Tom loved fishing — and thus each life is remembered, honored and missed.”