Great River Hospice social worker named Hospital Hero

The Iowa Hospital Association recognized Great River Hospice social worker Barbara Miller as one of its 10 Hospital Heroes Wednesday, Oct. 7, during its annual meeting in Des Moines. Hospital Heroes have performed heroic acts or have tirelessly given their time, talent or expertise to better their organizations, patients or communities. They stand out among more than 70,000 hospital employees in Iowa’s 118 hospitals and health systems.

Miller, who retired earlier this year, was Great River Hospice’s first social worker. She set the stage for social work’s role in hospice and developed meaningful programs, including organizing a service in which volunteers make quilts for every Great River Hospice patient – more than 3,000 to date.

Miller also implemented Great River Hospice’s bereavement programs and created a recognition ceremony for patients who are veterans.

“Barb has worked hard to meet the needs of every hospice patient,” said Chris Oleson, director, Great River Home Health and Hospice. “For example, when a patient who lived alone and had no family needed help at home, Barb stepped in. She organized a volunteer group to go to the patient’s home, thoroughly clean his apartment, do his laundry and prepare a home-cooked meal.”

Miller helped develop Great River Hospice’s annual memorial service, and she attended the visitations and funerals of many hospice patients because she knows the importance of showing continued support.

“Barb’s service comes from her compassionate heart,” Oleson said. “Her quiet heroism has affected the lives of many people in our community who have grieved or are grieving the loss of loved ones.”