It was the words of Mother Theresa that led Janis Negratti to Our Lady of Peace Hospice. “People should not die alone,” she said. After wrapping up her career as a human resources administrator and raising four children, Janis recalled the poignant words, and responded to her calling to “sit vigil” with hospice patients.
Janis believes that loneliness is a common, but unaddressed issue in our society, especially in older years when friends are dying, and family is far away. “When you’re sick on death’s door, loneliness is 10 times worse, but it’s fixable. I have a patient who is just sitting in a chair every time I visit, and when I walk in the room, her face lights up. We talk non-stop for an hour, and I’m so happy to light up her day.”
Janis has been a light at Our Lady of Peace for over five years. Prior to retiring, she volunteered as a meal server on weekends. She is no stranger to death and dying, having said goodbye to both her parents, a sister, and a brother. She says she’s comfortable being there for her patients in their final days and moments, showing compassion, and providing companionship to them and their families.
Compassion is apparent in so many ways for Janis, including the time she granted a patient’s wish for a strawberry milkshake. “She was in her final stages and without much of an appetite, and no taste buds when she said, ‘If I could just have a strawberry milkshake.’ My head started spinning. How can I get one? There’s a McDonald’s down the road. Then, I thought of my dad who used to make them for me with ice cream Smucker’s strawberry jelly, so I went down to the kitchenette, and mixed ice cream with milk, and little jelly packets. Bringing that milkshake my patient was the highlight of my life. I was able to give her something she really wanted; something we all take for granted.”
An unwavering commitment to supporting patients at end of life led Janis to continue volunteering through Covid-19. She worked for many months, prior to being vaccinated, but says it wasn’t scary. “Part of me thought I shouldn’t be doing it, but how can I not? I had PPE, and great protocols, and it was nice to be able to bring joy to people during the times when families were unable to visit.”
Janis says OLP understands their mission and duty, and they act upon it. “I volunteer because it’s something I care about, but I understand that I’m a contributing to the overall mission. And, unlike other places, I’m valued and treated with respect by a staff of remarkable people.”
Thank you for your service, Janis. We appreciate the light you bring to OLP patients and families.