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House calls lift spirits of Hospice's clients

April 25, 2001

House calls lift spirits of Hospice's clients



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY

andreabh@herald-mail.com

Chessie Bailey and stylist Kathy MuckPhoto: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Chessie Bailey said she always looked forward to her weekly appointments at the hair salon. Then the cancer ravaged her body and confined her to her Hagerstown home.

That's why Bailey, 82, is so happy to have found a hairstylist who makes house calls for Hospice.

"I couldn't believe it. It was a real surprise," she said. "It's so nice that Hospice supplies this service along with everything else."

Hospice of Washington County in January added to its list of patient services volunteers who offer hairstyling and massages to terminally ill Hospice clients and their primary caregivers, said Dawn Johns, community liaison coordinator for the Hagerstown-based organization.

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During National Volunteer Week, April 22-28, Hospice is celebrating the efforts of these new volunteers and others who provide patient care, pastoral services and office help.

Hairstylists Kathy Muck and Megan Harper visit patients' homes to cut, style or perm their hair. The women also offer free services to people who care full time for Hospice clients.

"God has really blessed me and I want to give something back," said Muck, of Sharpsburg. "I've met so many wonderful people."

Muck, who started with Hospice in February, has already provided hair care services for more than a dozen Hospice clients, she said.

"They just enjoy it so much," Muck said. "And this is something I do because I enjoy it."

Certified massage therapist Linda Jackson agreed. She realized soon after she enrolled in the Hospice patient care volunteer training program that her massage techniques could be beneficial to Hospice patients and their primary caregivers, Jackson said.

"I feel there's a real need there for both the patient and the respite caregiver," she said. "It's stress relief. It's a human touch. It's just a compassionate, caring, comfort touch."

Jackson began in January to provide massage services in patients' homes, and plans to complete the patient care program so she can also help Hospice clients in other ways, she said.

Certified massage therapist Karen Reilly also signed on in March as a Hospice volunteer, Johns said.

Chessie Bailey's daughter, Lana Pittenger, said the in-house pampering has lifted her mother's spirits. Other Hospice volunteers now share some of the patient care responsibilities shouldered by Pittenger, her brother, Larry Bailey, and her father, Elmer.

Elmer Bailey, 85, can once again enjoy daily morning walks and four weekly trips to the grocery store, he said.

"I don't think we're ever going to find out where Hospice ends," Pittenger said.

Anyone interested in become a Hospice of Washington County volunteer in any capacity can call 301-791-6360.

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