HHC After Dark

Providing Comfort in the Darkest Hours

By Bonnie Tormay

While many of us settle in for a quiet evening at home, Iris Simon, an experienced registered nurse at Hartford HealthCare at Home (HHCAH), is often heading out into the night to comfort someone in their darkest hours. 

Simon has been in healthcare for 42 years, starting as an OR trauma nurse and later transitioning into home care and hospice. 

Now, she works per diem at HHCAH and the third shift on call from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. As soon as the office closes, she is the sole provider for the hospice team. Unlike other third-shift nurses, Simon can work from home, but she’s ready to visit hospice patients in person when they need her most. 

Hospice is an as-needed service which makes Simon’s shift different every night. Sometimes, she has scheduled calls or visits depending on the patient. Other times, an unexpected turn for the worse might require her to respond to a call when least expected. 

Although Simon works by herself at night, she said she can do her job efficiently because of the team with the patients during the day. 

“Hospice involves a team approach to care,” she explained. “Nurses, social workers, chaplains, music therapists and medical directors all play a role in the scariest time of someone’s life — facing death.” 

The role of a hospice nurse is not easy. Dealing with end of life is often a frightening experience for both patient and family. It takes a unique person with strength and expertise to manage the situation — and Simon is just that. Her naturally calm and compassionate presence becomes a true gift. 

“A lot of the time, it’s just how you talk to and treat people,” she said. 

Her impact can be seen in the letters she receives from patients’ families, thanking her for helping them during the most difficult time of their lives. 

“Kindness and listening to people will take you a long way,” she advised. “Plus, plenty of rest during the day for what could be a long night!” 

Moments Summer 2022 - HHC After Dark

Iris Simon takes over hospice care at night after her colleagues spend the days with patients and their families. Photo by Rusty Kimball