BOZEMAN, Mont. — The card was from the family of a patient whom 37-year-old Matt Sonnek had become close with.

“(We) knew on your first visit that you were the guy to be with us. You started as a young male nurse and became a dear friend,” they wrote.

As a hospice nurse, Sonnek helps terminally ill patients and their families. When he read the card aloud, his emotions swelled. He blinked away a tear.

“You walk into situations that you don’t want others to ever have to deal with,” he said. “It’s good that I have a good family, friend, and team support system, and faith.”

The earlier a hospice nurse is connected with a terminal patient the better, Sonnek said, because trust takes time. But it makes the difference between the helping hands of a friend and having a stranger present at the end of a life, reported the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (http://bit.ly/2jEFbMQ).

Sometimes the patients are in their own home. More commonly they’re in nurse-staffed facilities, like the Gallatin County Rest Home.

At work, he typically visits five patients per day. A lot of time is spent driving. The phone rings quite a bit with updates and emergencies. He brings extra love, and attention, which takes stress off of family.

“I feel like it’s an incredibly rewarding profession. We’re able to provide care and help these people when they’re reaching, looking for help and you’re the individual,” Sonnek said. “I feel blessed that God has given me the knowledge and gifts and talents to help relate to patients at the end of their life and the tools to make them dignified, and have autonomy, and be loved where they’re at.”

While his wife is a Bozeman native, Sonnek is from Minnesota. They met at Concordia College and moved back nine years ago after working in a Wisconsin hospital. He was hired by and helped build the Rocky Mountain Hospice branch in Bozeman. The company was purchased this year and is now named Compassus. And the couple now has two daughters, ages 4 and 6.

“I just kinda wanted to get out of the hospital setting and try something different,” he said.

And the thank you cards, he said, “You get stuff like that and it makes you want to come back.”


Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com