St. Mary’s Hospice seeking volunteers |

St. Mary’s Hospice seeking volunteers

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

St. Mary’s Hospice of Northern Nevada is seeking volunteers for its Carson City program. It’s a chance to make a real difference in someone’s life, according to volunteer Stan Reeder.

“I lost my wife five years ago to cancer. Hospice took such good care of her that I want to pay them back,” he said. “Volunteers really help people. They can die at home, with their families, with dignity. I firmly believe the patient is more at peace.”

Part of a team of nurses, chaplains, nursing assistants and social workers, hospice volunteers provide companionship and perform simple tasks for patients and their families.

After successfully completing a 30-hour training program, they typically give four hours each week.

“Volunteers come from all walks of life,” said Nancy Mallery, volunteer coordinator for St. Mary’s. “We have secretaries, nurses, construction workers and many retired people — anyone who can offer support, help and friendship.”

Normally, volunteers are matched up with patients according to their needs and will see them once or twice a week.

“I think they need more men volunteers,” Reeder said. “I’ve done a number of handyman chores for families, like building a ramp. But I also make beds, vacuum, or take them to the grocery store — whatever they need.”

St. Mary’s clinical supervisor Elissa DeWolf said the Carson City program started in the early 1990s, an effort to reach outlying communities. The program serves towns within a 45-mile radius, including Dayton, Silver Springs, Minden, Gardnerville and Topaz Ranch Estates.

She said the office handles about 30 patients a month and reached 51 patients, more than Reno’s office, last Christmas.

“Sometimes the response needs to be immediate,” she said. “During these times, it’s much easier when the family knows we’re closer.”

The outreach program receives referrals from physicians’ offices, family members or hospitals and the service is usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.

Volunteer training is offered twice a year and will begin the week of Aug. 19, meeting each Tuesday for three hours through Oct. 21. For information, call Nancy at the Saint Mary’s Hospice Volunteer Program, 884-8900. St. Mary’s hospice is located at 3264 Goni Road in Carson City.