Humorous ‘morning show’ prepares hospice staff for serious work in Harrisburg

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — They were daily video meetings like so many others in pandemic-era America. Which is to say, “a little dry,” said John Dommel, a registered nurse who cares for hospice patients.

Then one morning, someone asked about the weather. Dommel answered the question in the convincing voice of a weathercaster.

“And it went from there,” Dommel recalled. “And then the traffic got backed up,” so he started giving traffic reports.

“Not too far from the office, Progress Avenue,” Dommel told the group Friday morning, with a fake honking sound in the background as he sat at his desk, “there is an accident.”

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Before long, Arlene Dunn, a chaplain who happens to raise chickens, was doing a “Chicken Chat with Arlene” segment.

“And there’s a lot of information to learn about chickens,” said Leann Barcavage, a registered nurse who told abc27 about the morning show.

“And for the nurses in the group, a chicken’s heart beats 220 to 360 times per minute,” Dunn said on Friday morning’s call. “How would you like to take that pulse?”

The calls don’t long — Friday’s was less than 15 minutes, including the serious part at the beginning about how patients were doing (“We talk about patient care, obviously,” Barcavage said) — but the folks at Asana Hospice say they’ve become an indispensable part of the day. Why?

“Otherwise you would have burnout,” Dommel said. “And you don’t want that.”

“I really think you have to find positive in your day,” Barcavage said — perspective from someone who cares for folks who don’t have many days left.

“We still have to live until the moment that we’re not here,” she said.

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