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Jill Chiesa: Listening, caring during life's worst times
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Covenant Care at Home is an amazing place primarily because of the people who work there.  Each has learned the Malmberg approach to caregiving — treat the patient as a family member and remember that this could be you. The staff embrace their highs and lows with the same level of commitment and caring.  Led by Ronda Malmberg and an incredible team of women and men, they bring quality care to patients, one at a time, at home.  One outstanding team member is Jill Chiesa.

Jill began as a volunteer at Covenant Care at Home and eventually accepted the challenge of serving as a full time Bereavement Coordinator. She serves Hospice families and patients and is reaching into the community to provide bereavement services outside of her job.  Jill has also accepted the tough task of debriefing nurses.

Hospice care is comprised of two parts:  palliative care and traditional hospice care.  Traditional hospice care is designed to offer comfort care without curative options.Palliative care provides those with a serious or chronic illness once diagnosed and throughout the course of treatment care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing and managing suffering.  Jill is joined by a team of Covenant Care at Home palliative professionals who help address everything from medical care to medications to the spiritual needs of the patient. 

As you can imagine, it is not easy working with people who are aware of their impending death.    It takes very special people like Jill and her colleagues.

One of the things that makes Jill particularly amazing is that she cares for the hospice nurses in addition to caring for their patients.  Jill makes sure that the hospice nurses have someone to talk with so they can channel their fears, frustrations and grief.  What I refer to as an in-house caretaker – caring for everyone from patients to colleagues and families.  A skill we all wished we had, but then again it is rare to meet a Jill.

Jill spends a large part of her time on the phone calling, listening and becoming a companion to bereaved family members. 

And, she goes one step further – by helping the spouse understand their wife, husband or partner is now watching them a skill she provides in both English and Spanish.  As an exceptional listener, Jill becomes a companion to people in grief, listening while walking alongside them.

Dying is by itself precarious.  Patients are struggling to free of pain.  Families are caught between the unknown and uncertainties.  Everyone is looking for answers – everyone is looking for hope.  Most know that Jill will always be there to listen for however long.

Described by those that know and respect her, Jill is one of the humblest people you will ever meet.  She knows that people open their hearts at their most vulnerable time.  She has redefined loyalty and kindness by what she does. 

With the care of an angel and the courage of a lion, Jill will tackle any problem to help someone who is grieving. A rare person and an incredible professional.   Jill Chiesa is a healthcare hero.

— Jeffrey Lewis is the president of Legacy Health Endowment and can be found at