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Gift of Care

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A local hospice caregiver finds reward in caring for the elderly population.

adamarionDuring high school in Covington, La., Ada Marion belonged to a club that visited nursing homes once a week. That’s when she fell in love with the elderly. “It’s a population that does not get enough respect,” she says. “Our society puts such emphasis on youth and beauty.”

Now, Marion is a social worker specializing in hospice care at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. “I felt drawn to the patients because they still so much need touch and socialization,” she says. “They need to sit, and talk and tell their stories.”

Marion works with clients and families in their homes, as well as at local nursing homes. Along with anticipatory grief counseling, she provides emotional support for patients and their family members. Guiding grieving family members who may be in conflict with each other can be a tricky path to navigate. “Sometimes it’s challenging for family members who don’t understand this process,” she says.

Marion admits her job is emotionally taxing at times. Some patients are simply not financially equipped to handle end-of-life expenses, and it can fall to her to deal with things like making sure a patient has electricity and food to eat.

“I’m very passionate about making sure my patients have everything they need and making their wishes come true,” says Marion, who has worked at the hospital for almost four years. “I sometimes say that I ‘beg, borrow and almost steal’ to get my patients what they need.”
Recently, the last wish of one of her younger patients, a father with throat cancer, was to take his kids to a New Orleans Saints game. Marion arranged for tickets to be donated.

It’s cases like these when leaving work at the door can be a challenge. “I have to debrief before I go home,” Marion says. She was recently nominated for—and won—St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s Ambassador award for her work.