Since the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast first opened its doors more than 20 years ago to provide end-of-life care, they have valued their volunteers. The Hospice believes volunteers offer an enhancement to the quality of care that the staff alone cannot accomplish. Dorothy LeCain has provided support to people through the Hospice since 1989.
Initially, LeCain served patients living in their own homes. In some instances, that meant running errands or providing respite and companionship for weary caregivers. Other times she cooked and cleaned for patients. It did not matter what had to be done, she met the challenge and did it with compassion and care.
During the past several years, her contributions have been more outstanding. Since 1990 LeCain has cared for the most challenged of nursing home patients. She has worked with patients who are not able to verbally communicate. Many of the patients had no local caregivers, family, or friends and were extremely isolated. They were cut off from normal social contact until she came into their lives.
This last “assignment” has been the most special for LeCain. She has worked to be there for these patients in special ways. One of her greatest gifts to them has been sitting at their bedsides. There she talks to them, always offering a loving hand or a comforting word. In addition to this, she has also found creative ways to communicate. She uses gestures, sign language, or other innovative ways to reach her special patients. LeCain even created a magnetic board that had words like “yes,” “no,” and “thirsty” on them which enabled the patients to “talk” to her.
LeCain has also been an “eleventh hour” volunteer. She sits with patients whose death is imminent. This is the most difficult of tasks, but she uses this service to comfort many patients and their families during this very challenging time. LeCain was also one of the first volunteers to care for patients with HIV/AIDS.
LeCain is also the primary caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. Though she struggles to muster the strength and energy to love and comfort her mate, she still stays dedicated to helping others in her community.
Though Dorothy does not serve for recognition, her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was recently presented with the Governor’s Points of Light Award in Florida for her community service.