Thrive by IU Health

May 27, 2021

Hospice nurse: ‘I hold their hand and let them know they are loved’

Hospice nurse: ‘I hold their hand and let them know they are loved’

She’s sat at the bedside of countless patients. In their final moments, they are often without family but Elizabeth “Liz” Bolden makes sure they never die alone.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

She likes to say she is one of the lucky ones. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse and she has never looked back.

Elizabeth “Liz” Bolden became a Certified Nursing Assistant in high school and has worked in health care ever since. She has been a registered nurse working at IU Health for 19 years – originally as a resource nurse and then working in precision genomics. Last year she became an inpatient liaison nurse working in hospice care.

Her role takes her to IU Health Saxony, IU Health North, IU Health West, Methodist, University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children. Working with other hospice team members she helps evaluate patients to see if they meet criteria for hospice care. If they do, she makes recommendations to doctors and other bedside care team members and provides support for the patient’s family members.

This wasn’t her first exposure to hospice. Ten years ago she lost her father, Jerry Mullens, and saw the care that hospice nurses provided at her father’s bedside, and the communication with her mother, Chris Mullins. Bolden has lost other family members too who were in hospice care.

“Hospice care extends beyond the patient. It involves a lot of communication with family members and helping them understand and cope with end-of-life decisions,” said Bolden.

Those decisions are different with every patient.

During the COVID pandemic, when visitor restrictions were implemented, Bolden played a big role in connecting patients with family members. “There have been a lot more calls to family members – a lot of phone and Face time,” said Bolden. That communication brought new challenges.

“We had a patient who was referred to us and was from my home town. She was in COVID isolation so her sons couldn’t come to visit. I sat with her until she passed and I called her sons to let them know she wasn’t alone,” said Bolden.

“A lot of times our patients can’t help make the decision if they want to be in hospice or not. It’s a family decision,” said Bolden. She relates how a son made the decision for his mother, in her 50s, and afterward Bolden talked to the patient to help her understand the process.

“She was comfortable and said she was ready to go to heaven. After we talked I was able to tell her that her son loved her. She died shortly afterward. For him to have the knowledge that she was making the decision too was such a blessing for him.”

On another occasion, Bolden was able to fulfill a wish of a 26-year-old patient with breast cancer. She wanted to see her dog. Bolden worked with the family to make it happen.

Congratulate our Daisy Award Honoree

Her care and dedication recently earned her a Daisy Award, recognizing her efforts to go above and beyond to demonstrate compassionate care.

In her nomination, team member Medical Social Worker Dava Clay wrote: “Elizabeth "Liz" Bolden has proven herself to be a true leader amongst our team - always reliable and trustworthy, while providing training and orientation to all of our new Inpatient Team RN staff members. She is highly skilled and knowledgeable about all aspects of nursing . . .”

Clay went on to write, “Elizabeth provides care to all of our patients with kindness, compassion and respect. Her attention to detail and critical-thinking skills helps to identify and quickly solve problems to help improve protocols and patient care.”

Bolden sees her role as a blessing.

“A lot of times in those final moments, patients can be distressed. I may make recommendations to help them with breathing, medications, and whatever makes them more comfortable,” said Bolden. “I typically pray, hold their hand and let them know they are loved.”

It never gets easier, she said. “Each time we can help someone pass peacefully and support their family members during a difficult time, we are driven to provide better care,” she said.

At home, she turns to her family for support.

Family photo

She has been married to her husband, Melvin, for 15 years. Together they have four children, Mya, CamRon, Amara, and Zoey.

“My kids know that mommy’s job can be sad. Sometimes, they say, ‘let mommy watch a sad movie so she can let out her emotions,’” said Bolden.



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