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Hospice Nurse Comes Back to Volunteer at Phelps

After retiring from her 40-year career as a nurse, Barbara Battista realized she wasn't quite ready to hang up her uniform just yet.

That's why the Hawthorne resident went straight to Phelps Hospice in Sleepy Hollow to start work as a volunteer.

“When you find something you love, it’s hard to get away from it. Working in hospice is in my blood,” she said.

Battista’s job is to provide support to family members and patients in need. She says that might entail her lending a shoulder to cry on, tending to some grocery shopping or even just giving a hug.

Lately, Battista says she has been spending time reading the newspaper and browsing catalogs with a patient at Phelps Hospice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Since she can’t be left alone, Battista's volunteer hours are especially useful because her being there allows the patient's husband to take a break from the hospital once in a while.

“I've developed a philosophy for myself working at hospice: I didn't cause the illness, and I can’t cure it but I can make the patients’ lives the best I can while I’m with them.”

Before she was a volunteer at Phelps Hospice, Battista was an on-call and emergency nurse at Jansen Memorial Hospice in Tuckahoe. She says she "fell in the love with the concept" of hospice nursing when three family members were diagnosed with AIDS and eventually passed away from the disease. She saw it as a way to give back.

“When you do what you love, you do it well,” she said.

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