Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Friend till the End ; Patients Get Support from 'Hospice Herb'

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Friend till the End ; Patients Get Support from 'Hospice Herb'

Article excerpt

For more than 18 years now, Herb Weyer of Evansville has been listening. It's just one of the soft-spoken 84-year-old's many strong suits, his colleagues say, and it's a quality that's come in particularly handy in his work as a volunteer for Deaconess Hospice Care.

For the hospice patients with whom Weyer regularly interacts, life is indeed in the twilight, and an available ear can be a very good thing.

"When I started volunteering, a lot of my friends said, 'I don't see how you can do that,'" Weyer says. "But it doesn't bother me. You meet a lot of nice people. It's really rewarding. It's not one of your 'pleasure' jobs maybe, but it's rewarding and I enjoy it."

Weyer's long service was formally recognized this summer when he received a 2012 Golden Hoosier Award from Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. The award was presented at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis on Aug. 14.

"He's 'Hospice Herb,'" says Tina Hale, a registered nurse who is Deaconess Hospice Care's volunteer coordinator and the person who nominated Weyer for his award. "He's just such a constant, stable, supportive person. He's calm. I can send him into any kind of family dynamic, and he can handle it... He likes what he's doing, and he appreciates the opportunity to be able to help people."

Weyer is one of 61 hospice volunteers at Deaconess. They're people who come from all walks of life and who, on average, donate 350 hours each month. Some even work full or part time somewhere in addition to their volunteer duties.

They collectively provide an array of services, all of which aim to achieve a common goal: Ease the patient's end-of-life journey, in the process assisting that patient's family and loved ones as much as possible.

On any given day, Weyer might make it possible for a patient's primary caregiver to rest, run errands or make appointments. He might also provide transportation or companionship. And when a patient does pass away, he'll make the necessary calls to hospital staff, in addition to any the family might need.

Hale says that when it comes to finding consistent, dependable volunteers like Weyer, there's not much use in placing help-wanted ads. …

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