Monday, March 11, 2013

Susan's Reflections

Visiting South Africa and our sister hospice – Hospice Wits – was an incredible experience.  There were many poignant moments – visiting patients in their homes, being welcomed by patients and caregivers into their homes, sharing with colleagues, introducing the Suncoast Hospice Institute’s Learn Center, training and sharing with staff, and experiencing life changing moments with others.  Here are a few of the lessons that I learned along the way. 

Lesson One:  Keep true to your core values and take advantage of opportunities along the way.   I never thought I would have the opportunity to return to Africa.  Through my work with Suncoast Hospice and Suncoast Hospice Institute my path would lead me not only back to the place that changed my perspective on life but it would combine two life changing experiences….Hospice AND Africa.  Who would want to miss out on this?  Visiting with staff and patients in South Africa and seeing hospice in action half-way around the world from Florida only reinforces the universality of hospice.  The language of love is the connection.

Lesson Two:  Really big things can block your way in life – but you just need to adjust your path.  Don’t be afraid to try new things just because there are obstacles in the way.  Look at your situation through a larger perspective…. There is always a different way to do things. 

Lesson Three:  There are some things you should steer clear of…… like bungee jumping!  Who needs it?  Do you really need to scare yourself that much?

Lesson Four:  There is never enough education – we can learn something everyday if we just open our eyes.  Sharing  our Learn Center with our colleagues was an exciting experience.  They embraced the opportunity to use online training to enhance their learning and have made a commitment to share this with the Hospice Wits staff.

Lesson Five:  Never miss the opportunity to laugh with a friend.  I  have made life-long friends along this journey which will be with me forever.  I hope that I have made a difference in others lives, I know they have made a difference in mine.
Susan Bruno

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Valuable Learning

Post by Joy Ruwodo, Hospice Wits Marketing Manager

Joy Ruwodo
I've been at Hospice Wits now for just over two years. In that time, the relationship with Suncoast Hospice has always been something that I've heard of and felt mildly in our Skype phone calls.

The relationship and understanding of how valuable this partnership is really came to light in full force when we had your team over for a visit. I could then touch and feel the reality of our partnership and benefitted immensely from our conversations and other interactions. I learned so much about how you do things in your hospice and how we could adopt some of your ways to improve our own way of working.

Because of the amount of learning from your short time here, I really felt that it was more important for us to keep the relationship going beyond your return to the States. And hence the idea that we should find a way of getting our teams here to be in contact with their counterparts there on a needs basis. I feel that a lot of good progress could come out of that.

Total Gratitude

Post by Nigel Unwin, Hospice Wits CEO

Nigel Unwin
As a nation South Africa is still in a difficult is Hospice Wits. The visit by Stacy, Susan and Terri was energizing and uplifting for all of us. Even though we knew that they would come with so much to share and give, we were overwhelmed and humbled by their generosity from all perspectives. This included the six laptops, suitcases full of materials, Learn Center tool, team building with all parts of the organization, work with our management team and visits with our home care sisters. So much in two short weeks.

To feel that Suncoast Hospice, this time through Stacy, Susan and Terri, genuinely sees Hospice Wits as their partner is overwhelming. We feel we have so much to learn and take and not much to share, apart from our absolute commitment to excellent hospice care. Other hospices here in South Africa, which nominally are partnered with hospices in the U.S., are blown away by what our partnership means and what it achieves for Hospice Wits.

From our perspective the best thing about our partnership is that we know that you have so much more that you want to share with us. Amazingly, it doesn’t feel like a one-way street. Perhaps it's enough to give and to be received with total gratitude? Hopefully it is.

Shared Knowledge & Understanding

Post by Mark Hibbins, Hospice Wits Financial Manager

Mark Hibbins
Despite South Africa being the most advanced country in Africa, we're nevertheless fairly isolated in terms of our understanding or even awareness of worldly developments, specifically around palliative care and, to a large extent, technological advances.

Our country is a vast cauldron of many factors. We have 11 official languages, cultural differences and massive anomalies in living and education standards. Within a mile or two from the wealthy live thousands in abject, unbelievable poverty, with the majority whom are unemployed. Our government health facilities are crumbling, many barely functional.

Hospice Wits has units in Houghton, a wealthy area, and Soweto, an impoverished area. We're so fortunate to share a partnership with Suncoast Hospice.We're extremely proud of our Soweto facility and the services we offer to the community. These are only possible to continue because of the generosity of financial contributions from local and international funders.

Sadly, our USAID/PEPFAR funding terminates in March this year, and this will definitely place an additional burden on us to find alternate funding in order to continue our work in Soweto.

For me, the partnership with Suncoast Hospice represents a golden opportunity for both of our hospices to benefit from a sharing of knowledge and understanding.

Our staff who've visited U.S.A. and Suncoast have returned invigorated and filled with new ideas and enthusiasm. And their experiences have been shared with us. We're also in awe that you and your staff who've visited here over the years feel you've learned from us. We trust our mutual association will remain strong.

We're also implementing a number of Suncoast Hospices’ initiatives. We're excited about the ultimate benefits we surely will receive.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quite a Spectacular Day

Today (Tuesday) Susan, Terri, and I spent the entire day in Soweto. We had an amazing day. We began our morning with the Soweto nurses and community care workers. We had 27 people all together in one room. Terri facilitated the auto bio poem activity with them. We've done this activity previously with the leadership team and the clinical staff in Joburg. We learned a lot about each other. Some of us really like chocolate (what's not to like...). Others described themselves as loving caring people (they are). Many stated they want to be remembered as making a difference in other people's lives (absolutely no doubt about that).

After that activity they presented us with a lovely tea. Tea time is very important here. The staff brought in tea, coffee, and many different sandwiches-along with a tablecloth.  It was quite lovely.  After tea we each left to make home visits with a different sister. As a surprise to the three of us we all met at the shopping mall in Soweto for a late lunch together at Nando's!  David, Deb, and Gayle (the 2011 trip members who were introduced to Nando's together) are you jealous? The food was delicious.

My day was quite spectacular. I did something I've never done before... I was spending the day with Maria. She has been employed by Hospice Wits and working in Soweto for 27 years. She is an amazing nurse. She told me we were going to an NGO (non governmental organization) meeting. I figured we were meeting with other not for profit organizations. Maria said that someone from Hospice Wits had attended previous meetings. Well, when we got there and went inside Maria showed me the agenda. I saw that we were attending a meeting of the ANC Women's Auxiliary! The ANC is the ruling party of Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa. Needless to say I wasn't quite sure what to expect!  I must say it was an amazing meeting. The attendees are very respectful of the chairperson and everyone follows proper protocol. I think we could learn a thing or two from them about how to run a meeting. Anyhow the meeting was about encouraging women to stand up against substance abuse as most cases of violence against women (of which there is much) involves substance abuse. They will be marching peacefully to the police station to deliver a petition and then ending with a prayer service. Hospice Wits will participate. The chairperson said she was humbled to have someone from America at their meeting and directed some very nice comments to me. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

We will post additional blogs about our patient visits. I wish everyone could witness the amazing work this staff does.