End-of-life care a passion for hospice social worker

Alison Rowell provides care and support in many ways for patients and families

End-of-life care a passion for hospice social worker

End-of-life care at Sanford Hospice requires compassion, both for the patients themselves and for their loved ones.

Hospice social worker Alison Rowell brings that compassion — as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience — to every person she interacts with in her role.

“Helping somebody walk through the end-of-life journey is such a privilege,” said Rowell. “When we’re born, you’ve got people that walk you through that journey. We’re here to walk you through the end of life too.”

Connecting the hospice team

Hospice social workers are part of a larger team at Sanford hospice, including nurses, chaplains and home health aides. Hospice is a Medicare benefit, and home visits are covered by insurance, so all hospice patients are connected with a social worker automatically.

Rowell works primarily as an in-home social worker. In a rural area spanning a 50-mile radius around Fargo, North Dakota, large chunks of her day are spent on the road. The variety of locations she visits is rivaled only by the variety of tasks she performs for her patients.

Rowell answers questions about insurance, food and rent assistance, Family Medical Leave Act paperwork, and other administrative needs.

She also helps with more intangible needs such as grief counseling, crafting legacy projects for hospice patients to pass down to their loved ones, and even mediating conflicting care requests among family members.

“I chose social work because I like helping people,” Rowell said. “They’re going through a lot, and sometimes people just need somebody that’s going to listen.”

Empathetic ear, fierce advocate

Anne Vig, the supervisor of social services for Sanford Fargo Hospice, sees Rowell in action every day. She speaks glowingly about Rowell’s versatility in her role, and her ability to do what’s right for her patients in any situation.

“Alison is great at that,” said Vig. “She’s very empathetic to people, but she’s also a fierce advocate if she sees that things aren’t right or unjust. She fights to make things right for them.”

It’s that versatility that makes Rowell so perfect for social work. Whether she’s working with translators for patients who speak English as a second language, leading the monthly spouse and partner loss support group meeting, or even singing to her patients at their request, Alison Rowell gives her patients exactly what they need when they need it.

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Posted In Fargo, Hospice, People & Culture