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Hidden Gems: Meet Rachel Robertson of GHC Hospice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Robertson.

Hi Rachel, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
When I applied to the Master of Social Work program at the University of Pittsburgh, I had no plan to become a hospice social worker. However, our lives take unexpected twists and turns. The summer before I started classes, my father was under the care of a hospice provider in my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. He passed away the day before I was to start classes for graduate school.

Fast forward two years to graduation. My husband John and I had decided that we were ready to move to a warmer climate and settled in Savannah, Georgia. One of the jobs that I applied for was a hospice social work position. Just one week after earning my MSW, I moved to Savannah and started a career as a hospice social worker.

I know that watching all the ways hospice helped our family led me down this career path. I truly believe that the end of a person’s life deserves just as much love and care as the beginning of a new life. It is such a gift to be able to be a part of a person’s journey.

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I have been providing end-of-life care for nearly two decades. I am very passionate about what I do and have met so many amazing nurses, chaplains, care providers, and families along the way.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think the hardest part about a career in hospice is getting started. Getting comfortable talking about death and dying is not easy – this is a topic that most people try to avoid. But if we are going to help our patients and families find a sense of peace and comfort, we need to be able to talk openly about the process.

Working in healthcare, in general, comes with a wide variety of challenges. Every individual comes to us with their own unique experiences and values. It can be a challenge to meet someone where they’re at emotionally and help them work towards acceptance.

Working through the pandemic has been both difficult and rewarding. Early on, most hospice social workers were working remotely. I realized pretty quickly that smiles and hugs help me get through the workweek. Trying to continue helping people without face-to-face interaction was very difficult for me.

Once we were able to start visiting our patients again, helping people work through their fears and anxieties became very important. I am so glad to be back in the field doing what I love!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
At GHC Hospice, we strive to be the gold standard in hospice care. We have offices across Southeast Georgia and have recently opened an office in South Carolina.

Our staff is knowledgeable and compassionate, a very important combination when providing end-of-life care. Our medical directors out are very involved in symptom management and are responsive to our patients and staff to ensure the highest level of patient care.

The GHC Hospice foundation also sets us apart from other providers. One hundred percent of funds that are donated to the GHC Hospice foundation go toward making life better for our patients. This includes assistance with home modifications such as ramps for wheelchair access, or even making “bucket list” dreams come true.

A few recent examples of this include sending a patient and his family to his first-ever concert, getting a patient to the beach for a family getaway, and sending another patient and spouse on a 3-day cruise out of Jacksonville because he had never been on a vacation before.

We also love to celebrate milestone birthdays with our patients! It is such a joy to help families make memories.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I can honestly say, I had a very good childhood with lots of love. I spent lots of time reading but also played outside with the other neighborhood kids. We had a lot more freedom back then and no cell phones.

I don’t know that I have one specific memory that stands out, but sort of a collective memory of spending time with my many, many cousins and aunts and uncles. I have a pretty big family on both sides, and I always loved our gatherings and reunions.

It seems like we were always celebrating a birthday, graduation, or a wedding. Even funerals are a celebration of life in our family!

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