35 Years of Delaware Hospice:
Sondra Satterfield, MSW, LCSW, Gives Her Perspective
Thirty five years ago, concerned members of the community first brought hospice care to Delaware with the founding of Delaware Hospice. Sondra Satterfield, MSW, LCSW, Delaware Hospice’s Manager of Family Support Services, has appreciated the positive impact of its care and programs over the years and can’t imagine coping with a serious illness without their support.
Sondra remembers hearing about her parents’ friends and neighbors who were cared for by Delaware Hospice. She said, “Every year, my folks would attend Festival of Trees in honor of someone they knew.”
When her father became ill in 1992, she learned firsthand why Delaware Hospice had grown and earned such an outstanding reputation. She said, “Our primary nurse, Cathy Osgood, became our ‘go to person.’ If anyone had questions, concerns or needed help, we’d say ‘better call Cathy.’ She was always there, always personable, and always helpful.”
Ten years later, Sondra’s mother grew weary of her three-year battle with cancer and called Delaware Hospice for comfort and care. Sondra remembers, “Our nurses expertly administered medications that kept her comfortable and alert. Certified nursing assistants provided personal care, which was a great help because she didn’t want us to do this. Our social worker also played an important role, listening to each of our concerns and suggesting solutions. She helped us organize 24-hour care among family members. This team approach, with hospice filling in the gaps, allowed us to keep mom in the comfort of her own home.”
Sondra was encouraged to work with her mom to finish up her estate planning; an important part of Sondra’s mom estate was three pygmy goats. Sondra took the goats in and named their place Betty Goat Junction after her mother. In honor of her parents, Sondra gives out a plaque to the Pygmy Goat Showmanship Grand Champion at the Delaware State Fair.
Sondra regrets that the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford did not yet exist when her parents were patients. She said, “My father didn’t want to remain at home. He was admitted to the hospital and spent his last few days there, with his family and on call hospice nurse close at hand. At one point, my family was exhausted with the care of my mother, and respite care at the Center would have been a welcomed relief. In both cases, we would have benefited from the comfort, personal care, and peaceful environment for which the Delaware Hospice Center is known.
With a social work and therapy concept graduate degree, Sondra served as a Family Services Specialist for Child Protective Services (now the Division of Family Services) for several years and then as an out patient therapist in her own private practice. Sondra didn’t hesitate to apply for Delaware Hospice’s bereavement counselor position. “I had great personal experience with the agency. I knew that they were respected and that their patients and families were receiving quality care.”
The timing was perfect and it was a good fit. Sondra says, “This is the best job I’ve ever had. My coworkers are kind and compassionate. I consider my work to be a privilege. To be with people during very private and challenging times is such a rewarding and valuable experience.”
“I recently sat in on Delaware Hospice’s Ethics Committee’s quarterly meeting, where staff discuss situations and challenges and look at our mission statement to evaluate how we’re doing. As a social worker, I am held by my profession to high ethical principles. It is wonderful to work for an organization who holds itself to high ethical standards as well.”
In her role, Sondra oversees adult and child bereavement, which is provided by Delaware Hospice’s New Hope Program. She said, “I often remind our counselors how important their work is, especially with child bereavement. I know from my previous experience with Child Protective Services that often cases of mental health or substance abuse can be traced to issues dealing with the loss of loved ones or the inability to cope with grief. Our counselors may have no idea what they are preventing, but we do know that they are having a positive impact on people’s lives.”
“As a lifelong Delawarean, it’s also meaningful to me that Delaware Hospice was founded in Delaware to serve Delaware. I have a vested interest in Delaware Hospice, not only as an employee, but also as a person from the community. High school classmates, friends’ parents and church family members have been patients. I know firsthand how Delaware Hospice has helped families during the past 35 years, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
“I love my job, and I love this agency.”
By Beverly Crowl