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'You got to get out, you got to move around': Compassus links veterans with veterans as part of end-of-life care

Quad City Times - 4/22/2019

April 21-- Apr. 21--He's a former engineer and military veteran who has volunteered for myriad organizations in his 87 years.

And now, George Turnquist helps speak to hospice patients as part of Compassus Hospice.

"I finally wound up spending 30 years at Reynolds Engineering in Rock Island, then I retired in 1991 and I've been retired since," Turnquist said. "I've been volunteering for different things. I volunteer for hospice, Compassus. I've been with them since 2011."

Turnquist is one of many volunteers for Compassus, a hospice, palliative care and home health provider, including in the "Veterans Helping Veterans" program.

"I enjoy being with people, enjoy talking with veterans... I just enjoy life," Turnquist said.

Volunteer coordinator Jill Venden noted that the history of hospice is rooted in volunteerism. It began as all volunteer before becoming a medical entity, she said.

For "Veterans Helping Veterans," Venden seeks out veterans like Turnquist to volunteer and sit with veteran clients. "A lot of times, our military veterans that are on hospice as they come to end of life, maybe they've never spoken about their time in the service and maybe they've never wanted to put that on their family, but they would be able to open up to someone who has also been in the service."

After being cleared to begin, volunteers undergo training and are assigned clients to visit, Venden said. "It's up to the volunteer how much they want to volunteer," she said.

Every Monday, Turnquist goes to The Good Samaritan Society in Davenport and visits people who are part of Compassus. There, he talks about whatever the person he's visiting wants to talk about.

"If it's an ex-military person, we talk about military stuff. If it's a farmer, we talk about farming. If it's a lady, we talk about whatever she wants to talk about. Usually, it's her husband and it's her family, things like that."

If he didn't enjoy it so much, Turnquist said, he wouldn't do it. "I'm serving the Lord, and I'm alone. Otherwise, what would I do? Sit here in my apartment all day, talking to no one? Four walls, watching the tube," he said. "You got to get out, you got to move around, you got to do other things."

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(c)2019 Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa

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