Taleka Perry Finds Her Way Home to the Methodist Hospice Residence
Taleka Perry remembers the day in 2010 when her life changed.
She was sitting in a break room at Methodist University Hospital when she a saw a story about the ground breaking on the Hospice Residence in the hospital’s One Vision magazine.
I said, “‘God, that is my dream job. If I could do hospice like that….’” Turns out her clinical and administrative skills as a clinical director in the Methodist Hospice home program--combined with a lifelong love for the hands-on work of hospice caregivers--was exactly what the Hospice Residence team was looking for in a director.
“Taleka can run a facility,” said Sally Aldrich, administrator and chief nursing officer for Methodist's Affiliated Services Division. “She brings a good balance. She knows how to provide exceptional care in an acute setting with a heart.”
Her heart for hospice was something she was aware of early in her nursing career. Born in Spokane, Wash., to a military family, she attended junior high and high school in Germany, earned her bachelor’s in nursing from Central Missouri State University and her master’s from The University of Memphis. She says hospice just reached up and grabbed her.
“I just loved it. I loved sitting there. I loved holding hands. I thought it was weird at first but I recognized it was so beautiful to be a part of that process--these patients pouring out nuggets of wisdom and giving you these last words--I love what I do.”
Her work is focused on that blend of administrator, clinical professional and compassionate caregiver. What that looks like changes from day to day—since the residence opened in August, the staff has cared for elderly patients, children and those in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
“I remember we had a woman in one room who’d been married to her husband for 49 years and he was dying,” Taleka said. “And she said, ‘Taleka, I just don’t know how I’m going to live without him.’ And then I go in another room and there’s a man whose wife is also dying and he’s been married to her for 42 years. And he’s saying the exact same thing, ‘I’ve never done anything without her. How can I go on?’”
Dealing with the toll of regular encounters with death and loss, Taleka will tell you, is tough. “I have my moments,” she says. “I have to put it in perspective. But when you’re called to do it, God equips you. There's no other way that we can cope with it, if we're not equipped to do it.”
After a few short months, Taleka still considers her new position her dream job.
“I never thought there would be a place like this where you can deliver this type of care. To me, it's nursing at its finest. It takes our work back to the roots. I just love it.”