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Column: Hospice honors longtime physician

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This rose garden outside the dining room at Our Hospice of Indiana Inpatient facility has been named in honor of Dr. Ben Ranck.
Submitted This rose garden outside the dining room at Our Hospice of Indiana Inpatient facility has been named in honor of Dr. Ben Ranck.

THE gardens at the Our Hospice of South Central Indiana inpatient facility are special places.

Most are situated just outside patient rooms so that with a turn of the head patients and visitors can look out onto nature. They’re especially beautiful in warm weather months, but even in the winter they provide a sense of serenity.

That’s important for those who avail themselves of the services of Our Hospice.

I know.

I’ve been able to experience that feeling of calm in visits with loved ones and dear friends.

There is one other garden in the Our Hospice complex — its only rose garden. It’s situated just outside the dining room, where family members of patients can grab a bite to eat while taking a break from their vigil.

It, too, is a special place, and now it has a special name.

The Ben Ranck Terrace Garden.

The name was placed on the garden recently by the board of directors for Our Hospice. It was their way of acknowledging Ben Ranck’s 54-year career as a family practice and hospice physician in Columbus. He spent 28 of those years (1980 to 2008) as the medical director of the organization. He is still a fixture with it, currently serving as a certified hospice and palliative care physician.

Longevity is not the main reason Ben Ranck is being honored in this way.

His humanity is.

Debby Pratt, a member of the Our Hospice staff, illustrated that by recounting a story about the doctor and his wife, Esther.

“For the past 20 years they have presented a rose to each of the women attending the annual Our Hospice Recognition dinner,” she said. “This longstanding and touching tradition prompted the Our Hospice board of directors to choose the rose garden as a fitting tribute to his service.”

There’s more.

He expressed it himself in a conversation shortly after his 2008 retirement as medical director when he explained his decision to embrace the Hospice philosophy 28 years earlier.

“I came to realize that we as physicians were seldom with our patients when they died,” he said. “We might see them through their treatment, but often we’d get a call from someone at the hospital telling us that our patient died. That was it. We had been focused on keeping the patient alive. Everyone has physical needs, but they also have social and psychological and spiritual needs as well.”

In all his years of working with hospice patients, that sense of compassion was witnessed by others.

“He’s very patient and has a calming effect,” said Sandy Carmichael who retired this year as director of the facility. “I think the real key is that he listens.”

Others who have worked with him over the years share that opinion.

Lisa McHone, nurse practicioner at Our Hospice, described him this way, “His approach is not just around the physical care of the patient but the emotional, spiritual and psychological well-being, as well. He listens with understanding to patients and families and also to the staff and volunteers of Our Hospice. He has made a difference in more lives than one could count. Many, like me, consider him a hero for hospice!”

The families he has helped through the process of the passing of a loved one have special feelings for him.

Frank Reindl, a member of Our Hospice Board of Directors whose mother received care in Our Hospice Inpatient facility, recalled an incident when he encountered Dr. Ranck outside his mother’s room.

“My mother was having a particularly difficult day, and the staff on duty was taking such great care of her,” he said. “I asked him how they were trained to cope with all of the end-of-life issues faced by those using hospice services. His response was that it is a privilege to work with patients and families at this very personal and intimate time in their lives.

“It is still a source of awe to him that people let him in, and therefore he sees it as a huge responsibility to make things better at this most difficult time. His words were very calming, and it was evident that he was convinced that what he and others were doing at Our Hospice was absolutely the right thing to do for those on the final steps of their journey.”

I think those are pretty good reasons for a rose garden to bear his name.

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