In hospice care, those around the patient often work to ensure the he or she is comfortable during the final days of life–providing palliative care, creating a soothing environment and gathering loved ones close.
But there’s another form of comfort that IndyBar members can provide–the comfort that comes from peace of mind that end of life decisions have been made and families will be taken care of. The IndyBar Hospice Program provides this type of pro bono legal assistance to terminally ill patients.
The program’s impact goes even beyond the patient–those associated with the program, whether IndyBar volunteers or hospital personnel, are often also touched by the impact of such seemingly simple actions. Read below for firsthand experiences from a volunteer attorney and a hospital coordinator.
By Jeff Heck, Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn LLP
As the incoming co-chair of the IndyBar Hospice Program, I jumped at the opportunity to act as the notary for one of our volunteer attorneys, Jennifer Andres of Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn LLP, as she consulted with a client at a local hospital.
Jennifer received a request to assist a client with executing a durable power of attorney to enable a family member to care for the client’s financial needs. Jennifer met with the referring hospital social worker and then I was able to witness Jennifer explain and help the gentleman execute his durable power of attorney. It was touching to observe the patience, kindness and respect with which Jennifer treated her latest client.
We later heard from the social worker that the gentleman refused to put down the completed documents until he could personally give them to his daughter, as it meant so much for him to have that piece in place. We also learned that the patient died a few days later. I was very glad to witness firsthand the comfort our volunteer attorneys provide to those clients in the Hospice Program at a time when they need it most. We should all be very proud of and grateful to the volunteer network of attorneys who donate their time and expertise to make this program possible.
By Rev. Karen Estle, Eskenazi Health
When I think of the attorneys coming to Eskenazi Health to do pro bono work for our patients, I immediately recall my experience with two patients. Recently, one gentleman wanted to name his daughter to take care of everything and make any decisions. The daughter was unable to access his bank account, was paying her dad’s bills and would need to apply for his Social Security. I arranged for an attorney to come and complete a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Representative form. I made copies of the forms for him and put them in a large white envelope. I asked where he wanted me to put the forms for his daughter to pick them up after work. He said, “Give them to me.” Once I gave him the forms he held them tight with two hands until his daughter arrived. I did not realize how important completing the forms was until I saw him gripping the envelope and then it became very clear.
Some months ago, I met a very ill man and his wife. The man wanted to have a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Representative form and a Simple Will completed. They had both of their names on everything that I could think of to ask about, but he was so worried. When he was a young child about 10 years old, his dad died and he had no documents completed. The man’s mother struggled and there was money in a bank they were never able to access. This patient swore he would never let this happen to his family. When the patient was discharged before we could get the documents done, I arranged to have the attorney come to a follow-up clinic appointment the next week. The physician knew how important completing the documents was and let the attorney and me take care of business first. This patient was so relieved and grateful that even his increasing pain did not matter that day.
The pro bono attorneys do an amazing job. We are so blessed to have them come to Eskenazi Health. I get to see the gratitude, smiles and peace.•