Palliative Care and Hospice Social Worker
Sam is a cup of comfort to patients and their families. She warms their hearts, lifts their souls and eases their minds during some of the most complicated, intimate and fearful times of their lives. “Serving our mountain residents means meeting people where they’re at – both figuratively and literally. I am just so humbled and softened by being afforded the privilege of witnessing people’s innate bravery and wonder as they navigate through matters of life and death.”
At Mount Evans, our social workers in hospice, palliative care and home health have more than 100 years combined experience supporting the emotional well-being of mountain patients and their families and providing valuable expertise with legal and financial issues. Although there is no such thing as a typical day in the life, we spoke with Palliative Care & Hospice Social Worker Sam Harwood about what it means to serve mountain patients and their families.
Q: Why did you want to work at Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice
A: I was familiar with Mount Evans from my previous work in the community and admired their approach to health care. I often referred people to Mount Evans and was always struck by the type of care and attention provided to all people, equally, regardless of perceived barriers. In a fragmented system distracted by a bottom line, Mount Evans demonstrated this ability to rise to the task and responsibility of caring for all people the very best they could. My values closely aligned with the work, the mission, and the people leading the organization and I knew it was here that I would be able to grow and serve in a way that felt right to me.
Q: What do you find rewarding about your work?
A: I appreciate how, through service to others, we all feel more connected and at ease. I love that, through this work I am able to collaborate with a diverse group of people, systems, and values to serve and support people during some of the most complicated, intimate, and fearful times of their lives. I also am just so humbled and softened by being afforded the privilege of witnessing people’s innate bravery and wonder as they navigate through matters of life and death –and I am constantly inspired by this!
Q: What does it mean to you serve our mountain residents?
A: Our mountain residents means meeting people where they’re at – both figuratively and literally. It means we provide a person-centered approach to health care, one that honors and supports each individual’s unique goals and values.
Q: Do you feel like you make a difference in the lives of patients?
I certainly aim to! As a social worker my work is guided by tenets of social justice, dignity of the individual, service, and the importance of human relationships. I believe it makes a difference when we can infuse health care with principles that place patients at the center of the work.
Q: Describe a moment from your job that touched your heart?
A: Days before one of our hospice patients was about to pass, I met with her and her daughters who had both traveled to stay with her from out of state as she was living out her last days. I was meeting with the family to review some logistical aspects of hospice, the end-of-life process, and offer support as the family was suddenly understanding that their matriarch was quickly approaching end of life. Through the discussion, each person declared their fears, and existential pains related to death and dying. Then, without too much prompting or direction, we were all suddenly sitting in the patient’s bed, cuddled close, singing a Carly Simon song together. In that moment all who were present were gifted the opportunity to rejoice, sing, and giggle in honor of this incredible woman’s life, it was so powerful but also so simple in nature. This moment held true how raw, vulnerable, and united we can be in life’s most terrifying, unpredictable moments. It helped me to open up to what is possible for people as they grieve, and reminded me to remain authentic to who I am as I help people traverse the unknowns of life and death.
Q: Not all health care organizations are equal, what do you think that makes Mount Evans special?
A: Mount Evans is bolstered by an exceptionally spiritual, brilliant, and compassionate group of health care providers, most of whom are women! The people who work here are simply supreme. To learn from and work alongside the women who champion the mission and work of this agency is a great honor.