Melinda Marble has helped Austinites make the most of each remaining day with comfort and kindness for the last 14 years, She shared life lessons she’s learned along the way.
“When patients come to us to ask for help, they have the same four question," she says. "When my moment to die comes, am I going to be in pain? Am I going to be alone? Am I going to be scared? Am I going to be remembered? Here, at Hospice Austin, we help answer all those questions – and make sure their worst fears don’t happen.”
It takes a special person to be able to do this work. Marble says, “I asked one of our doctors why they chose hospice care at medical school and they said ‘I did it because I could, I didn’t faint when someone was dying.’ Sometimes it's that simple. To be with a patient and their family during the hardest experience they’ve ever faced is a privilege and an honor. We work hard to normalize the experience for them – by being calm, by letting them know what to expect, and by knowing how to keep them comfortable.”
Hospice Austin served its first patient in 1980. Marble says it was a labor of love by people who saw the need for this service in Austin. “Nowadays, there are many for-profit hospices, part of big chains, but we remain the same. We're owned by the community, nonprofit, not part of a chain. Any money we make from donations goes back into programs that help our patients and their families – not to shareholders or investors. This allows us to care for everyone who needs us, regardless of their ability to pay or their diagnosis.”
She said she was inspired to get into this work after watching her own father die in a hospital. “No one was telling us anything or overseeing his general wellbeing and it was a dehumanizing experience,” she remembers, “The grief of losing him killed my mother, but when she was dying her doctor suggested hospice care. She had a beautiful death; so different to my father’s, and that made me investigate it.
"I’ve attended many, many deaths of friends, family and patients since then, including my husband’s to cancer, and of course they are always hard. Dying is hard, and it can be ugly and painful, but it doesn’t have to be. And that’s the whole goal of hospice, to make each day as good as it possibly can be, even the last one.”
To make a donation or for more information go to Hospiceaustin.org