Hospice care, coming as it does in the final phases of terminal illness, is incredibly important in trying to provide the best quality of life possible for those patients who require it. This is where Unity Hospice come in, as their staff of trained professionals work to provide that excellent care to their patients across its many locations here in the Midwest. One such professional is Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Joy Mercer.
Mercer’s work as a CNA for Unity began in 2015 when she started working in the offices of the Northwest Indiana branch as a volunteer, but it didn’t take long for her superiors to see she was meant for more.
“To their surprise, I was already licensed as a CNA, and once they did [realize] I was moved from office work to a full time CNA,” said Mercer.
Since then, Mercer has been on the frontlines with patients and families, but before she heads out for her busy day, she makes sure to take some time for personal reflection.
“Most of the time, I start my day between 2am and 3am and I try to get in an hour or prayer before I start,” said Mercer. “I think of it as prepping time for the day ahead. And I’m thinking about my patients during this time, they’re always on my mind. I’m thinking of ways to make them more comfortable than I did the day before.”
After that, Mercer is on the road, venturing to all corners of the region for her patients.
“From there, I start my rounds and try to do my best. I start with my first patient very early in the morning and from there I go all over from LaPorte County to Lake County and, sometimes, I go as far as DeMotte and Lowell. I do what I do for the patients, though, wherever they are, I just want to show them I care.”
And that care for people in need stems from compassion that Mercer has fostered ever since she was a child.
“I’ve always had this compassion, even as a child. In fact, my dad once had a whole section of the building with elderly people that I would go and see. And I remember, as young as I was, seeing needs in them. I would massage their backs and ask if I could comb their hair or scratch their scalps,” recalled Mercer.
Of course, her connection to her church also helped continue this compassion as she grew older.
“I started to volunteer to visit people in their homes and assist in any way I could. And it wasn’t just basic care, I would clean, wash clothes, and run errands too. And that’s just how I’ve been my whole life, even now with Unity.”
And now, at Unity, she has found a place that shares her values of compassion across all fronts.
“One of the things that won me over when I did my in-service was reading that a CNA at Unity was to care for the family as well as the patients. That took my heart, like, ‘wow!’ That’s key to me, that we as caretakers involve everyone in the care we provide.”
While Mercer has been at Unity for just two years, her life here in Northwest Indiana started much longer ago. Originally from Chicago, Mercer moved to Northwest Indiana with her family some twenty years ago. Now living in LaPorte county, she reflected on what inspired her move.
“Well, before we moved here, I told my husband I wanted country living, but also wanted to be close to the city, and Indiana has been that for us. Years and years ago, I enjoyed coming here and now that I’m living here and deep in it, I’m loving it!”
Outside of work, Mercer maintains a strong relationship with her church and family.
“Most of my time outside of work, I’m usually in church, but first and foremost is visiting my grandchildren. I had three sons and never had a daughter and finally, as my kids became grown, they gave me four granddaughters back-to back, so I’m having a blast! And finally, we just had our first grandson who we call Skip because he’s the skipper of the ship of girls.”
It’s clear to see that community and compassion are key to Mercer’s life, something those around her are sure to have experienced in their time with her.
For more information on Unity Hospice check out their website.