Toms River, NJ -- As a young man, George Kresan wrestled with a difficult career choice: engineering or medicine? Engineering won for a variety of practical reasons, but retirement offered the former AT&T/Bell Labs employee a precious opportunity to again explore his interest in medicine, albeit in an unexpected way.
The Toms River resident, now 85, has been a volunteer at Barnabas Health Van Dyke Hospice and Palliative Care Center at Community Medical Center for more than 20 years. After noticing how hospice care had benefited close family members, a small ad in his church bulletin seeking volunteers was all it took to launch him into weekly visits with patients and their families.
George’s typical routine involves providing respite care for patients in their homes for two-hour stretches so caregivers have a chance to decompress, shop or attend doctor’s visits. “The program has been an important part of my life because it’s fulfilling in so many ways,” says the father and grandfather, who has been married for 58 years to his wife, Barbara. “People ask me how I do this, that it seems so morbid. Well, I don’t look at it that way – the rewards far outweigh the effort. I feel enriched by the experience.”
George considers the numerous friendships he has cultivated with patients and family members to be a cherished side benefit of his volunteer efforts. One patient – a fellow WWII veteran who had served with the famous Flying Tigers in Burma – spent hours reliving history by sharing photo albums from that time period with George. Another friend, the sister of a patient more than 15 years ago, swaps emails with him regularly.
“My sense of what is important and what is not has changed a lot since I’ve been with hospice,” he says. “I see the importance more of people rather than things and I tend to have more appreciation for time with my family and friends because a lot of people don’t have that. It has me thinking more about what kind of person I want to be.”
Into his ninth decade, George also feels his hospice experiences have helped him to confront his own mortality in healthy, productive ways. “Volunteering with Hospice has helped me face mortality with much less fear.”
About Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center
The health care team at Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center has been privileged to serve more than 52,000 patients and their families during one of the most personal times of their lives. Specially trained experts in end-of-life care are privileged to provide comprehensive and compassionate medical, emotional and spiritual care at a time when it is needed most. Our programs, which serve infants, children, adults and the elderly, honor the individual choices and values of each patient and family, while offering full access to the broad array of services provided by Barnabas Health. For more information, please visit www.barnabashealthhospice.org.
Date: February 4, 2013
Contact: Lisa Tortorello
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