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Comfort & Coping - Arienne Patano



It was not long after the pandemic began that alumna Arienne Patano felt the need to take a step back from research and get back into the clinical setting. Having entered into the college’s PhD program directly after finishing her bachelor’s degree, she wanted to seek out an experience to help complement and strengthen her research.


Patano put the PhD program on pause but continues to work part-time for Associate Professor Dr. Horng-Shiuann Wu as they research how light therapy can improve the sleep of breast cancer survivors.


“I wanted that clinical experience. By deciding to do clinical work, it complemented my area of research and reminded me of the reasons why I even decided to pursue research in the first place,” she said. “In order to be successful in my research that involved advanced cancer patients, I needed to spend time in the clinical setting to observe and experience the concepts and phenomena within hospice firsthand that I read about in the literature.”


Since embarking on her journey at Hospice of Lansing (HOL) in Dec. 2021, Patano’s passion for nursing has been fueled once again. She considers the everyday interaction with patients a gift.


“Working with patients has helped me learn about myself. So far, it’s been an enlightening and rewarding experience,” Patano said.


She considers herself a very spiritual person, coming only two credits shy of a Religious Studies degree from Michigan State University.


Hospice of Lansing and its eight-bed facility provides a serene environment for patients to experience their final days. Tucked away from a residential neighborhood in South Lansing, the long, winding drive leads to the Stoneleigh Residence, which is where HOL patients reside.


Spring months offer nature’s finest to patients as birds, deer, butterflies and the occasional turkey find their way on the property. The element of nature aids the holistic approach of HOL, which is accompanied by chaplain services, massage and music therapy, and the many volunteers who provide companionship to patients at the facility and even their homes. In addition, HOL provides 80 percent of its care in private homes and senior communities across Ingham, Eaton, Clinton and surrounding counties.


As a non-profit organization, HOL follows their mission to serve all by bringing kindness, respect and quality to the end of life. They often work with families that are low income or do not have insurance, because they believe everyone should have the best end of life care, no matter the circumstance.


“Hospice of Lansing was founded in 1979 by a group of volunteers. It was nurses and doctors who saw the need in the community, and we try to remain true to those roots. If someone doesn’t have insurance, we don’t collect payment,” said HOL Executive Director Andi Earl.


Though young, Patano has a deep appreciation for working with hospice patients and feels that it has offered her more than she could ever want.


“I experience the ‘human experience’ through other people and having patients that have lived a long life inspires me and gives me hope for living a well-lived life," she said.


After clocking in at 6:30 p.m., Patano takes a report from the previous on-shift nurse and begins her nursing rounds. The medications used in hospice to provide symptom management, and comfort is something she wasn’t used to at first.


“The amount of narcotics that hospice patients receive is usually more than any other type of patient,” said Patano, “I’ve talked to other nurses that have transitioned to hospice care and were hesitant at first with the amount of narcotics they were administering.”


Patano notes the approach to hospice nursing is far different than any other care. Becoming comfortable with death and letting go are two key pillars.


She credits the Michigan State University College of Nursing with preparing her to provide compassionate care while equipping her with the coping methods needed to fulfill her responsibilities.


“I had a staff member tell me to keep a daily journal, and it’s been so helpful," she said. "I reflect after each shift on my perceptions on life.”