Patty Ayers – MSW, LSW
Hospice Clinical Social Worker
Patty wears multiple hats which include being a mother to two teenagers; working full time as a clinical social worker with Holy Redeemer Hospice patients; teaching at a local state college; facilitating for a nationwide cancer support community; and blogging. Prior to joining Holy Redeemer Hospice in Atlantic County, New Jersey as a medical social worker, Patty worked for the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and eventually became an Adjunct Instructor teaching a course called “Exploring the Dying Process.” Her course teaches students about hospice services and really does explore the entire dying process from a biological, psychological and spiritual perspective.
Patty has delivered in-service seminars to various nursing facilities in several counties near the Jersey Shore, and led informational group discussions at several high rise apartment buildings throughout Atlantic City, New Jersey. Patty is a licensed social worker and received her Masters degree from The University of Pennsylvania. During her graduate studies Patty was fortunate enough to be an intern for Gilda’s Club South Jersey and has facilitated support groups for Gilda’s Club ever since. In her spare time Patty likes to garden, play board games, and read.
Leanne Billiau, MSW, LCSW
Leanne is a social worker, a bereavement counselor, a reflexologist, a wife, a daughter, and a dog lover. She has been a medical social worker for 16 years, a hospice social worker for four years, and has devoted the last four years to bereavement counseling. She spends her professional time at Holy Redeemer Hospice in Philadelphia, where her program provides services to approximately 1800 bereaved individuals.
Leanne is responsible for coordinating the bereavement plan of care for family members following the loss of a loved one. She provides telephone support as well as individual counseling for the bereaved. Additionally, Leanne facilitates bereavement support groups and grief workshops throughout the year. She educates staff, volunteers, long term care facility staff and residents, and the community about loss and grief. Leanne is certified in reflexology and utilizes this complementary therapy modality in her practice when working with highly stressed or anxious bereaved family members. She also collaborates with the complementary therapy team in teaching self care to members of the bereavement support groups.
Valerie Hartman, RN, CMT, CR
Complementary Therapy Nurse
Nursing, massage therapy, and reflexology are just some of the practices in which Valerie Hartman holds certification and degrees. It may seem like an odd collection, and when you add in aromatherapy certification (underway), an even more unusual set of credentials. But Valerie is a complementary therapy nurse, and for 20+ years, she’s worked with those living with advancing illness, preparing psychologically for death.
The additional therapies Valerie provides her patients and their caregivers (yes, caregivers are also on the receiving end of some care!) reduce stress and have a measurable physical benefit. Combining the skills of an experienced hospice nurse with advanced complementary certifications, some of which require more than 100 hours of training, Valerie helped to establish a unique position, so far seen only at Holy Redeemer Hospice.
Over the span of 24 years, Valerie has provided nursing care to more than 10,000 hospice patients and families. She has provided 20 hospice massage / reflexology sessions a week for more than 8 years time in all hospice settings: home, skilled nursing facilities, and the inpatient unit (which includes patient and stressed caregiver sessions).
When she’s not working with patients and families, Valerie is active in the National Hospice Palliative Care Organization, where she leads the Allied Therapy section. She teaches basic and advanced massage pathology, online education courses, and hospice massage workshops. She enjoys the beauty of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, shares daily living with her young adult daughter, loves massaging –and the smell of –her rescued thoroughbred. Valerie reminds herself—many moments a day—of the contour of the sky, the season changes, and the feel of the elements. She smiles often.
Ron King, D.Min., LMFT
Ron has been involved in ministry to people for more than 30 years. As a chaplain with Holy Redeemer Hospice, he hears the life stories of patients daily and faces end-of-life challenges with each one. Along with being a member of the ethics committee, regularly presiding at memorial services and teaching hospice professionals, his primary joy comes in seeing the lessons of life revealed in so many lives rich with memories and questions.
Part of the perspective he brings to the hospice experience is placing this life event in the context of an entire life and generation of family history. As a chaplain, Ron works from a strong belief that the spiritual dynamics create a sacred space for hope and personal growth until the last breath and beyond, for both patients and caregivers. Honoring each individual path toward the end of life, he believes the work caregivers do and the reward they receive is more than physical. As a hospice chaplain, he considers himself a companion on that path.
On his own life’s path, Ron has been the clinical director of a residential addiction center, a community restorative justice organization, and pastoral staff. In addition to his work with hospice patients, Ron is a licensed marriage and family therapist working with families at all stages of the life cycle. This particular practice is enhanced by his own experience of nearly four decades of marriage, two daughters, and four grandchildren.