2550 Tenderfoot Hill Street, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80906
Counties Served: Colorado - El Paso, PuebloPalliative Care
Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care offers care and support for each step you choose. Our programs provide specialized medical care (palliative care and hospice), practical support, counseling, and spiritual support for those affected by complex, serious illness. Patients receive services at home, assisted living and nursing facilities, and our own licensed hospice inpatient unit. Grief support for surviving loved ones continues for thirteen months following the death of a PPHPC patient. PPHPC is celebrating 39 years service, and is the only community-based, nonprofit hospice provider in El Paso and Teller Counties in Colorado.
Hospice workers are doing the most serious work in the world, said Ron Culberson, a home care social worker, EMT, speaker and humorist. Despite how serious the work is, hospice people get it, he said, they know the need for balance.Ron visited Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care in late September during a staff appreciation day to share what he has learned about balancing the seriousness of the work specifically, the importance of finding humor in work and in life. Theres a risk of being too serious in the work and losing objectivity, he said.Ron started working in hospice at 25 years old. Then usually the youngest person in the room, he felt he had a special opportunity to learn a lot from other staff members and patients alike and being so young also gave him a license to have fun. Over the years, he learned that fun can not only help people enjoy their jobs more but also do their jobs better. Thats the focus of his book, Do it Well, Make it Fun, which has been shared with Pikes Peak Hospice staff.Success isnt about being serious, he said. Pikes Peak is not the most serious hospice. Youd never put that as your mission statement. You want to be the best hospice. Its about excellence, not seriousness. That idea applies to people, too. Ron said a lot of people become more serious and leave their inner child behind at some point in their adult life. Theyd be better off hanging onto that inner child, instead, he said. Humor can lower stress and help creative and flexible thinking. For example, every joke has a setup and a punchline. The punchline is funny because it gets the listener to think about the setup in a different way with a play on words, revealing something that should be obvious or giving a surprise. Humor builds, Ron said. The more you find things funny, the more you find things funny. That can lead people to think more creatively in other situations.Humor can help with stress, too. Stress is not automatically stressful, Ron said. Stress isnt caused by what youre doing or what is happening around you but instead comes from what you think about it. To help with those regular stressors, Ron suggested finding fun, or allowing yourself to have fun, to perform better. When you have fun, youre more likely to do something good for yourself, he said. He referenced Volkswagens old Fun Theory commercials as an example. Most passengers leaving a Subway station used an escalator, but after giant musical piano keys were installed on the stairs, people started taking the stairs so they could play the piano. Ron encouraged everyone in the room to find more fun in their work for their own sake as well as for their patients. We need you to keep doing what youre doing, he said in closing. Youre providing something in the community that is so necessary.
Jami Leahy lost her husband, Scott, long before she could have ever expected. Their three boys were still young. There was so much more they hoped to share. And Scott wasnt the kind of guy who would give up easily.He would always bounce back, and he was always fighting his disease up to the very end, said Jami. Throughout Scotts battle against a rare type of neuroendocrine cancer, he refused to let the disease hold him back. He continued coaching his sons baseball and soccer teams and remained active as a Scouts leader. Meanwhile, he sought out clinical trials and traveled to try out various treatments. When those treatments were not successful, the Leahy family began to think about their other options for care.Choosing Inpatient Hospice CareMost people receive hospice care at home, because that is where they feel most comfortable. Home is where Jamis mother received hospice care before she passed away in 2007. But as Scott neared the end of his life, he made the decision that he did not want to pass away in his family home because of concern about the memories that would leave for Jami and their children. In May of 2017, when Scott opted for care with Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care (PPHPC), he and his family spent the last five days of his life at our inpatient unit at Penrose Hospital.PPHPC was able to provide the family a large room with a beautiful view of majestic Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. Jami says it was a comfortable space where she and the boys ages 6, 10, and 13 at the time basically camped out and shared precious memories. Among those memories is the way the staff at PPHPC took the time to teach the boys how to help care for their dad. Jami says they adopted a pitch in and help attitude, and it helped the whole family be able to work together to make Scott comfortable until the very end. She says the boys gained an increased level of empathy because of this experience, and in fact, her oldest son is now interested in attending medical school because of his experience helping care for his dad.Finding the Right Grief SupportAfter Scott passed away on May 16, 2017, Jami sought out grief support services to help her navigate this difficult time. She began by attending groups at PPHPC but was usually the youngest in the group, and she desired to connect with others who were experiencing grief at a similar stage in life. She found a group for young widows at the Heartlight Center in Denver, but found it difficult to travel from Colorado Springs to Denver on a regular basis. In the same spirit of her late husband, Jami didnt give up easily. She found a solution by creating one and helping others in the process.Instead of frequent long trips to Denver, Jami started her own support group for younger widows in Colorado Springs. The group started at the YMCA three years ago and now regularly meets on Zoom with sessions of four to nine people.People often choose to handle their grief quietly and discreetly, but Jami has learned that more transparency and openness can help us process our grief.I believe coping with grief is something that should be talked about openly, and I have tried to normalize grief to help others through the process, she said. I have learned a lot, and if I can share with someone to help them, I want to help.Jami now shares the knowledge and wisdom attained through her own experience with grief to help others on their path through a similar difficult experience.