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Gilchrist Gives Back to a Longtime Volunteer Turned Patient

August 5, 2022, Caregiving, Counseling & Support, Elder Medical Care, Gilchrist, Grief, Hospice, Social Work

Gilchrist Gives Back to a Longtime Volunteer Turned Patient

Jerome (Jerry) Hensby has dedicated more than 20 years and 3,100 hours to Gilchrist as a volunteer. Now 95, Jerry is on the receiving end of Gilchrist’s care, as a hospice patient.

Jerry started his volunteer work in 1995, when the organization was named Hospice of Baltimore. His wife, Ellen, was also a long-time volunteer—first at GBMC and later at Gilchrist, as a welcomer at Gilchrist Center Towson.

Much of Jerry’s volunteer work centered on offering comfort and support to bereaved family members. Having lost his son Craig at age 37, he understood the intense pain that these grieving families were feeling.

“Volunteering helped Dad very much after Craig died,” explained Jerome’s daughter, Marybeth. “He enjoyed what he did, and he helped others at the same time they were helping him.”

It was only when Jerry stopped driving at age 90 that he finally stopped volunteering. Upon his “retirement,” Gilchrist honored Jerry with a special plaque at an awards ceremony. The bereavement team, who worked with him closely, wrote, “There are not enough words to say how much you have meant to Gilchrist. Your years of service have been extraordinary.”

At the time, Jerry humbly said of his service, “I feel I have done nothing special.”

When Jerry’s wife developed Alzheimer’s, a compassionate team of Gilchrist specialists cared for her. Hospice helped so much that she actually improved and “graduated” from hospice. Jerry and the whole family were enormously grateful for the wonderful care she received. When Jerry’s health began to decline last year, the family again turned to Gilchrist.

Hospice care has helped with Jerry’s symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, so he can be more comfortable. Marybeth describes their nurse as “absolutely wonderful and very compassionate.” A hospice aide also visits regularly to take care of his personal needs and spend time talking to him. In addition, a social worker visits to offer counseling and resources.

Jerry looks forward to his team’s visits, which he says are very helpful. Hospice has also allowed him to spend more quality time with his family, which is the most important thing in his life.

“My dad loves his whole family being together,” said Marybeth. “He loves his grandkids and great-grandkids—he lights up when he sees all of them.”

For Marybeth, knowing that her father—who she calls her “best friend”—is receiving such compassionate care means everything. And it also means the world to Jerry, who has been so caring and giving to others all his life.

Jerry has difficulty speaking because of shortness of breath, so his words are reserved for what’s most important. When asked what is so special about Gilchrist that he decided to give so much of his time, he summed it up quite simply: “Because Gilchrist is a wonderful organization.”

Gilchrist is honored to care for such a caring and selfless individual. We thank Jerry for his extraordinary commitment to Gilchrist and his tireless dedication to our patients and families.

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