After serving various roles in the medical field and overcoming the loss of her husband to cancer, Ashley Holaday-Copeland understands both sides of medical care.
She steps into her new role as executive director of Heart 'n Home Hospice and Palliative Care with the goal of ensuring patients and their families are always the Fruitland organization's focus, from health education to emotional support during any stage of life, by overseeing all clinical and nonclinical operations.
“You only get one chance to make it right,” Holaday-Copeland said.
When her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness, he and Holaday-Copeland were in their 20s and had two young children. It was a hard time for everyone in the family, she said.
Holaday-Copeland said she did not immediately consider hospice; at the time, she considered getting her husband in hospice admitting defeat.
“I felt like it was giving up,” she said.
Now, however, Holaday-Copeland has a different perspective: Hospice helps prepare patients and families for whatever may happen to the patient's health. The goal is to make patients and families feel empowered.
“If I could tell anybody something it would be that [hospice] is not [giving up],” she said. “Having the hospice conversation is not giving up. I want someone to walk away thinking, 'I can do this.'”
Holaday-Copeland has always been passionate about and dedicated to the medical field. Having worked hands-on as a physician and now in administrative positions, Holaday-Copeland has experience in all areas of health care. Regardless of her position, the patient and their family members have always been priority one.
While working at Dorian Place Assisted Living, Holaday-Copeland began contemplating hospice practices: what they were, what was working well and what could be improved. She decided she wanted to be a part of that type of care.
Speaking from experience, Holaday-Copeland emphasizes hospice is the right choice whenever family caregivers are struggling and feel at a loss for how to continue care. Heart 'n Home employees want to provide relief and help caregivers find the right course of action, regardless of whether hospice is the “right answer.”
Holaday-Copeland said she wants to help patients and families find whatever course of action is right for them. She said the No. 1 complaint she hears from clients is they wish they had contacted hospice sooner.
For Holaday-Copeland, providing the patient and family with open and honest explanations about what is happening and why, and what to expect in every state of a patient's health is important, because that combats the fear, frustration and desperation. That's particularly true in the case of terminal patients.
She said one of her goals in her new position is to provide service that brings families together and provides support when making decisions regarding care.