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IBA: Volunteer Needed to Coordinate IndyBar Hospice Program

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Want to provide legal help to dozens of terminally ill people in their last days without ever leaving your office? The IndyBar is searching for an attorney volunteer to coordinate its Hospice Program.

This volunteer will not perform direct pro bono services with clients, but will be the point of contact with Wishard Hospital, Methodist Hospital and St. Francis Hospital. The coordinator must be readily available to receive fax or email referrals from the hospitals and pass them along to the attorney volunteers. The coordinator briefly reviews the referral to make sure it is appropriate to the program before passing it to the volunteer. Based on the patient’s health, some referrals require immediate turn-around, so the coordinator should have support staff to assist if they have a job that takes them out of the office on a regular basis.

The coordinator will work closely with and be supported by IndyBar staff and the Pro Bono Standing Committee, but does not need to be a member of the committee. Twice a year, the coordinator will create a six month schedule of the volunteers’ weekly assignments. The Coordinator (with staff assistance) will keep a current “database” or spreadsheet with volunteers’ contact information and track how many hours were donated to each case.

The new coordinator will be orientated by the retiring Hospice Coordinator and if secured by Dec. 17, will help create the volunteer schedule for January through June 2013. The outgoing coordinator will also introduce the new coordinator to the hospital contacts.

The number of referrals per week varies, but is typically less than three. Most referrals are able to be handled by the assigned pair of attorneys, so weekly time on the coordinator’s end is minimal. For more information, please contact Caren Chopp, Pro Bono and Legal Services Coordinator, at cchopp@indybar.org.

About the IndyBar Hospice Program

The IndyBar Hospice Program volunteers assist hospice patients through consultations and offering limited representation (primarily with end of life concerns and forms), through Wishard, Methodist, St. Francis and the Abbie Hunt Brice Home. Volunteer pairs address all hospital referrals made during their assigned calendar week (typically three hours of service) and are assigned two to four weeks per year. Training is available via DVD.

Attorney volunteers can comfort hospice patients in so many ways with just a little bit of time. Answering questions, executing powers of attorney or simple wills, or transferring a car title can relieve the mental anguish from which a patient suffers. Some attorneys learn that within hours of their consultation, a patient passes with their affairs in order. With a few phone calls, one attorney volunteer helped unravel a 20-year-old matter that was preventing a cancer patient from receiving Medicaid assistance for chemotherapy and pain medications.

Our generous volunteers touch more people than they expect. Recently an attorney accepted a referral and met with a patient regarding a health care power of attorney. As he and the patient were executing the documents, the patient’s roommate asked if the attorney could help her as well. She had documents prepared and was in need of notary assistance. With an extra five minutes, this volunteer positively affected another struggling, sick and low-income terminal patient.

Interested in getting involved with the Hospice Project or any of the IndyBar’s other pro bono programs? Contact Caren Chopp at cchopp@indybar.org.•

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

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