Hospice workers aim to make what life patients have left the most memorable 

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

If you didn’t know, November is National Home Care & Hospice Month. According to the Association for Home Care & Hospice website, the month is designed to celebrate “workers who play an invaluable role for their clients as caregivers, companions and friends.”

Renae Horecka

Renae Horecka, regional director of clinical operations for St. Croix Hospice in Albert Lea, Mankato and Rochester, has been involved in hospice care for eight years.

She started her career as a nurse at local nursing homes, working alongside people in hospice. She was encouraged to try it.  

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According to Horecka, hospice workers deliver care to patients wherever they consider home and have life-limiting terminal illnesses. 

“We are there to make what life they have left the most memorable, the best they can have,” she said.   

Starting in hospice care, she was out in the field visiting patients every day.

“We all had our caseload of patients, and we traveled to wherever they live, and provide that individualized hospice care,” she said.

Sometimes visits were social, and part of being a field nurse included companionship.

Now, her role involves mentoring caregivers.

For Horecka, a typical day when she started involved going straight to her patient.

“You get in the car, you go,” she said. “It’s a lot of windshield time, it’s a lot of in and out of your car, you’re one on one with the patients, which is absolutely phenomenal.”

But these days, as she works in her current role, you’re likely to find her at a branch site.

“It’s a lot of phone calls and meetings and just ensuring that our patients are getting the best care from a high-level overview,” she said.         

The one-on-one patient care originally drew Horecka to the field.

“Being able to sit alongside your patient, the time that you’re there doesn’t matter,” she said. “They’re your primary focus, and you’re there to help whatever they need.”  

Her favorite part of the job was being able to see the spark of joy in staff members’ faces.

She also said the end of life can be as beautiful as giving birth.

For anyone thinking about a career in hospice, Horecka said to go into the field with an open mind.

“You have to be OK with changing your schedule,” she said. “You can’t be one that needs a set schedule that can’t change.”

She also wanted to clear up a misconception of the field: Hospice care doesn’t not mean a person receiving care was going to die immediately or that any medication would be stopped.     

According to Horecka, the Albert Lea branch has been around since this August.