Hospice Austin’s Blog
We live in unprecedented times where end-of-life care discussions are more important than ever. These conversations are always difficult, even with the most accepting of patients and families. As the referring physician to hospice care, regardless of your field, your patients trust your judgement and recommendations for their journey ahead.
Hospice Austin Executive Director Marjorie Mulanax has been the face, heart, and soul of Hospice Austin for 27 years. The Texas and New Mexico Hospice Organization has selected Marjorie Mulanax as the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award. As the 2021 honoree, she is the seventh winner of the Association’s most prestigious award.
When legendary Texas Blues matriarch Marcia Ball was asked to perform a Swan Songs concert for a Hospice Austin patient, she didn’t hesitate. She brought her electric piano, set it up in the patient’s living room that was festooned with flamingo decorations, and rocked the house for nearly an hour. The living room was filled with friends, family, and even the patient’s Hospice Austin nurse, with the patient and everyone else tapping and nodding along to the music.
I woke up one day and decided I wanted to do something that matters. I wanted to go back to school and find a career that would allow me to make a difference in the lives of others. I actually decided I was going to go to ACC and apply to Hospice Austin before I ever even applied to the program. Hard work pays off and I applied to Hospice Austin as soon as I had my certificate. I’ve had two family members pass in the hands of this organization and my heart is so full being able to now work for them and be on the other side.
I develop a special relationship with all my patients. I didn’t sign up for this for a paycheck – I do this because I feel like it’s what I’m called to do. If you can’t give love and comfort and care, you’re in the wrong job. I love my patients. I advocate for them and each day I try to do my best for them – putting a smile on their face, or wiping their tears, or just giving them a hug.
When my dad was sick in McAllen, we had help from an agency, but some of the CNAs were very rude to my father and tried to rush him. We know people lose the ability to do things when they are sick, so CNAs need to take the time to do things gently – transfer, help with the shower. People were so rude with my father. That’s what motivated me to become a CNA. One day I will be the same age, and I want to be treated well.
I’m hands on – we are there to give patients love and everything they need. I like that we can spend time with them. I’ve worked with patients on the home team and now here at Christopher House. I like both. Giving the patients a bath, applying lotion and oils – they love it – it’s so relaxing for them.
I was on the COVID-19 Response Team over 6 months. I wanted to be there to help them.
A lot of my patients are men who have been in the military and don’t feel they need assistance but they do. Some of them say, “I’m gonna die before I let someone assist me!” If I have a stubborn patient, we sit down and talk and get to know each other. Many times we have a lot in common and don’t realize it.
I’ve been a CNA for 30 years. I started shortly out of high school. My mom said, “Come work where I work.” She’s a CNA, her sisters are CNAs, my cousin is a CNA. It was just in our family – they are so loving and giving and compassionate.
I remember when we started Camp Brave Heart for grieving children over 20 years ago. We were certain that the need was there – most kids and teens knew no other child who had a loved one die and felt very isolated – but we weren’t sure how it would go. Would anyone attend? Would it be fun? Would it be healing?
Last year we had those same questions when we decided to hold the camp online over Zoom. A surprising number of kids attended. And yes, it was fun; yes, it was healing. The kids made connections, both with one another and with their own grief.