Thom Bishop-Miller, LPN, is a breath of fresh air among the patients, families and staff members at Humanity Hospice.


by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer

If you need a smile in your life, you might want to meet Thom Bishop-Miller, LPN, Humanity Hospice, Oklahoma City.
Miller has been a licensed practical nurse for 21 years since graduating from Canadian Valley Technology Center in Chickasha. In 1995 he began an extensive history in home health care. This year he made a transition to work at Humanity Hospice as a hospice nurse with an additional focus on business development and marketing.
“Being a nurse has been a great benefit with some of the referral sources because they seem like they want to talk to a nurse,” Miller said. “So I’m able to take a verbal order here in a situation where we might need that. I can get the order right then and there and not have to call a nurse to do that for us.”
One of the reason that he switched to home health care is that he said with Medicare there are more limitations with what home health can provide for a patient.
“There’s a certain point they are not allowed to provide what that patient and the family need,” said Miller, a marathon runner.
Home health is driven with a set of short-term skilled need and when those goals are accomplished the patient is discharged, Miller said.
Hospice has been a refreshing experience for him to visit with families and patients and provide them with an additional level of care they need and to witness the relief they receive with the care rendered by hospice. The marketing team is often the first face of hospice a client sees.
“We go and visit with them, give them information regarding hospice and what they can expect,” he said. “If they are agreeable, there’s some paperwork they sign, giving us permission to access their medical chart and then the nurse can come out and see them after that. It’s great to visit with them.”
The patients may have a lot of questions, so the initial meeting helps to get them and their loved ones to bridge the gap of what hospice provides. Naturally some families are reluctant at first until they are reassured.
“One of my favorite things to tell them is that if they start feeling better or get their pain under control and feel better, they can always revoke hospice at any point,” Miller said. “If they need it later, they can always come back on service.”
This gives clients a sense of control by knowing options exist in their lives. Their lives are not static and neither is Humanity Hospice which is burgeoning with growth.
Miller said the great thing about Humanity Hospice for him is that he has been privileged to work with many of the staff before at another company offering hospice and home health.
“I’ve known them for a long time,” Miller said. “Their compassion and teamwork is second to none. We are close and willing to help each other out genuinely. It’s not intermittent; everybody is willing to help and I love that. I really do admire that.”
“And their compassion for the patients — they are always getting complimented by families and patients about how fantastic they do their job and how passionate and compassionate they are.”
Miller said it is great to be able to market the kind spirit of the Humanity Hospice team. The nucleus of a caring team within the organization continues with altruism for the families which are all different.
“I think their courage is the first thing I always think of because it’s hard to make that decision and transition on to hospice because of the old ideas of what hospice is,” Miller explained. “It’s very hard to make that decision, and once they do, hopefully they see the help that they get and it encourages them.”
Many of the patients have fought long battles with various disease processes. Their journey is not an easy challenge. But their courage helps them to transcend to their personal best with peace of mind.
Miller’s life is enriched by knowing he has helped a patient feel a little bit better. He knows the remainder of their days will be better due to the palliative care Humanity Hospice provides for them.
“I met with a family the day before yesterday. It felt like they welcomed me into their family when we visited about what their needs were,” he said. “They were relieved for the additional help. When I left there I felt this is exactly what they needed and I had helped them relieve some stress.”