250 Reasons to Smile

Earlier this month Hospice of the Midwest partnered with Junior High students from Open World Learning (OWL) in the West St. Paul Art Department. Since then, we have received 250 handmade watercolor cards from their 7th and 8th grade classes!
The students learned about our hospice care through our Volunteer/Bereavement Coordinator, Nichole Paladie, with an informative presentation and Q&A session. In the following weeks, the students were then taught how to water color. Each student designed 4 cards and it was very evident the pride each student showed as they presented their finished cards to the staff.
This was a fantastic way for students to showcase their gifts and talents as well as doing outreach with the hospice community! Each patient receives a handmade card that includes a meaningful message from the student and a blessing from our staff.

Quilts for Our Hospice Patients

Check out this beautifully patriotic quilt! Isn’t it delightful?

Pictured is our Hospice of the Midwest – Minnesota team with a beautiful Army Quilt made specially for a military veteran patient. These very unique quilts are made by St. Peters Lutheran Church in Afton, MN and made possible by a very special donation from Thrivent Financial of Minnesota.

Again, thank you to St. Peters Lutheran Church and Thrivent Financial of Minnesota for providing these quilts for our patients. Every little bit matters in making them more comfortable and feeling at-home.

 

The Patriot Award – Honoring Those We Support

Hospice of the Midwest’s exceptional care doesn’t start and stop with its patients. Part of its wholesome community care includes supporting its employees.

Recently, Lynnea Andersen, Executive Director Hospice of the Midwest, received the Patriot Award for her efforts supporting Registered Nurse (RN) Case Manager Jessica Soderblom in the Iowa National Guard.

The ESRG office awarding Lynnea Andersen The Patriot Award for valiant efforts in supporting and honoring those who have or are serving our country and working for Hospice of the Midwest

Lynnea Andersen, a recipient of The Patriot Award from the Office of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) at Hospice of the Midwest!

“It was quite unexpected and pretty much left me speechless,” said Andersen. “It is for contributing to national security and protecting liberty by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force. So that is pretty cool…I am truly humbled.”

The award is from the Office of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

According to ESGR’s website, “The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.”

Soderblom nominated Andersen. Soderblom has served in the Iowa National Guard for 15 years and has been working for the Hospice of the Midwest for one year.

“The Army paid for all of my schooling to become a nurse. It has helped me come to where I am today,” said Soderblom. “When it comes to employers and their outlook on National Guard members, we have to have that good relationship. Just knowing I have Lynnea there to back me up and to feel supported for both roles is truly amazing.”

Soderblom has done a few flood duty tours, supported communities for 4th of July parades, and from 2006 to 2007 she was activated for border patrol in San Diego.

Soderblom has not been called to deployment since working at Hospice of the Midwest but is scheduled for a 6-week career advancement course with the National Guard this summer.

“We support her because she doesn’t have to take a vacation or alter her job at all,” said Andersen. “Throughout the year at any given time she may have to go serve our country and we have decided as a company we are going to shoulder her load of work while she is out doing what she needs to do for our country.”

Andersen said Soderblom won’t miss out on any type of employee benefits and she won’t be penalized for her absence.

“It makes us a wholesome company because we are looking at the big picture of life in general,” said Andersen. “We have the opportunity to help so many people. Jessica helps our staff understand what it’s like to be in the military, and how they can better serve our patients and families.”

Since 1973, the United States Military has been an all-voluntary force. Lisa Whitmarsh Peterson, the Military Outreach Coordinator of ESGR, said Hospice of the Midwest is showing the community its patriotism through proactive policies to hire military and support them. There are also great benefits for Hospice of the Midwest.

“Benefits are numerous,” wrote Peterson in an email. “The Citizen Soldier is a highly trained, reliable, drug-free professional, that is a leader with a global perspective. The employer benefits by the ability to access personnel with this highly-skilled training, which can be of benefit to their firm, while providing employment for some of our nation’s finest.”

Hospice of the Midwest creates a work environment where people want to go to work. Besides supporting Soderblom, Andersen said the company also has an on-call nurse, who is an honorably discharged veteran from the Navy, it has a great group of veteran volunteers and provides special care to the Iowa Veteran’s Home in Marshalltown Iowa.

“My philosophy is if we can’t take care of our employees we can’t take care of our patients,” said Andersen. “We have to take care of our employees because they do a lot of hard work for our patients. They shoulder a lot of grief, trial, and tribulations of our patients and families. We want to make the best out of those days, weeks, months that they have left so we also need to make sure we are taking care of each other.”

The ESGR- Patriotic Employer Award that Andersen received represents her work philosophy; it brings both Service Members and Employers together in common understanding and appreciation for their collective efforts.

“SGT Jessica Soderblom and Lynnea Andersen are to be commended for fostering this high degree of support for our country’s military force,” wrote Peterson.

Sue Roussel – Employee Spotlight!

Susan Roussel in her nurse scrubs in action!

               Susan Roussel in action!

Here at Hospice of the Midwest we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping others through our services and now think it is time to take a look into the culture and community that make up HOMW.

Meet Sue Roussel, she has long been with the newly named Hospice of the Midwest in Minnesota as an LPN! Before joining the team, Sue came to us with 24 wonderful years of experience in nursing, had recently taken up snowboarding, and had been on two mission trips to Haiti.

Since she joined the team back in June of 2016, Sue has grown and learned to have patience, flexibility, and extended compassion to families, co-workers, and management in need.

What does an average day look like to you?
My day begins work with no expectations, I am privileged to have scheduled between 4 to 6 clients in a day. My day is fluid due to backing up two exceptionally talented RN’s, our clients are the best and I try and give 100% to each client and family I serve.

But that isn’t all, one thing mentioned by Sue’s peers is her willingness to take on extra visits not only for patient care but to back up her team along with her positive can-do attitude; never once complaining or questioning!

What do you enjoy most about your work day?
My team is amazing, it truly feels like we have each other’s back. I am thankful for my fearless leaders, they have invested so much of their time to help me become the nurse I am today.

In your opinion, what are your biggest accomplishments – professional or personal?
My accomplishments include my strong faith starting in 1981, having an amazing husband of 42 years, being a proud mom of two sons, and one daughter-in-law who has gifted me with three amazing grandchildren. Also, having a career in nursing for 26 years, it is not a job it is a calling and I am one of the lucky ones who was able to respond to the call.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love golfing, walking, hiking, and I’m NOT afraid to go down water slides with my husband and NOT act our age.

Something to keep in mind, is this talented woman has dedicated many hours at Hospice of the Midwest over the years from covering long-periods of on call shifts, holidays to weekends.

What is something not a lot of people know about you?
I took up snowboarding at the age of 60 to be with my granddaughter on the slopes!

A couple last things to note, Sue is currently the longest nurse employee at Hospice of the Midwest and is graciously appreciated by her peers. In the end, it is clear Sue is a very dedicated to her family, career, and see’s this through with a fabulous sense of humor! Keep up the great work Sue, your efforts have not gone unnoticed!

 

Hospice Affirms Life

Hearts for Hospice & Home Health, hospice affirms life. And when in hospice care it is likely you have an interdisciplinary team consisting of kind and skilled nurses, medical directors, aids, social workers, chaplains, and hospice volunteers all practicing a holistic tailored approach.

So, who are the ordinary people doing extraordinary things? Well everyone on your team, but today we are recognizing why hospice volunteers can have such an important role in end-of-life care.

A hospice volunteer is considered someone who has the ability to share their heart and watch others’ hearts grow as time passes, sharing a connectedness. For some, it may be the only other heart around and for others it could be adding to the love shared within a family. The capacity to go about serving selflessly is an act only some are capable of and are the ones who represent Hearts for Hospice & Home Health undoubtedly.

Hospice volunteers are there to see what patients needs are and help fulfill them. Our volunteers accomplish a multitude of things from providing companionship and support, to lending a helping hand around the house, talking, going on a stroll with or reading to the patient, to helping with fulfilling final wishes, and anything else that can be thought of in-between. The support the Hearts for Hospice & Home Health volunteer team is able to provide goes above and beyond what is expected.

In other words, a hospice volunteer is there to help enhance the patient’s quality of life in many ways. Having volunteers only helps increase the scope of the care to help provide more relief, comfort, and sometimes just to simply take your mind off things.

In volunteering instances, it is not only the patient’s quality of life improving but the same is also happening for the volunteer. When volunteering, a sense of purpose is met which can bring fun and fulfillment to your life. Not only that but it is a way to increase social and relationship skills. Our volunteers at Hearts for Hospice & Home Health form bonds with our patients and their families holding them near in their hearts.

If we wanted to get scientific with why volunteering is helpful to not only the patient but the volunteer as well, researchers from London School of Economics found that “helping others kindles happiness…”. If you think hospice volunteering is right for you please feel free to contact Laura Ehmann at Laura.Ehmann@premierhospiceaz.com

To find out more about how Hearts for Hospice & Home Health services can benefit your loved one, please contact us.

HOMW Promoted to THREE Stars with National Vet Program

Hospice of the Midwest was promoted to level three status within the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans program.

The national program aims to improve the care received by veterans from hospice and palliative care providers. The program provides four levels of recognition to organizations that demonstrate a commitment to improving care for veterans.

In order to reach level three, Hospice of the Midwest was tasked with providing education to the staff and the community toward building a “veteran-centric” culture, providing quality care for veterans and their families and enhancing its veteran volunteer program.

For information: wehonorveterans.org

Hospice Experience: The Iowa Farmer’s Wife

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If you knew Grandma Neva, you had a seat in her kitchen. The Iowa Farmer’s Wife, known for her homemade bread, had a heart for hospitality. UPS workers timed their deliveries around lunchtime, and “if you hit cocktail hour, you’d be offered a cold margarita,” laughs Neva’s Daughter-in-Law, Kelly Jo.

 

Neva had always been vibrant and active. She helped her husband drive tractors on the farm in “small-town” Yale, Iowa. The couple [junior high sweethearts] had three boys who loved football. Neva never missed a game. Her greatest love in life was her family.

 

Then the worst happened. Neva’s health began to fail.

 

Neva no longer wanted to eat because it was a challenge for her to swallow. She stopped interacting with friends because speech became difficult— Neva began writing notes to communicate with her family

 

“It escalated quickly,” family members say. “We went from seeing her standing and holding a grandbaby in May and working in her garden in June, to being unable to walk at all in September.  She was losing weight rapidly as well as strength.”

 

Local doctors remained baffled, so the family contacted the Mayo Clinic, known for their expertise in diagnosing complex diseases. Learning an appointment would not be available for another month, Neva’s son, a pilot for Pioneer, chartered a plane to Minnesota where the family checked Neva into the Mayo Clinic’s emergency room. The family stayed in the waiting area for five days while doctors poked and prodded Neva to see what was wrong.

 

Test results revealed Neva had ALS, a progressive neurological disease that causes muscle weakness and eventually leads to death. Doctors said that Neva would need a tracheotomy and breathing machine to live, but Neva shook her head no. According to the family, the doctor was upset by her response and said she couldn’t survive without this procedure. She still shook her head no. A psychiatrist tried to convince Neva to push on with measures to prolong her life, saying she was “not in her right mind.” Neva scribbled on a piece of paper: she had not lost her mind and simply didn’t want to be dependent on a breathing machine to live.

 

Though Kelly Jo had been taking excellent care of her, Neva was moved to a nursing home where 24-hour care could be provided. Additionally, someone suggested the family obtain hospice services to support Neva and make her more comfortable during the last phases of her life. The family called Hospice of the Midwest for help. “The hospice social worker explained hospice services to us. I didn’t even know we could have hospice in a nursing home,” said Kelly Jo. “Hospice of the Midwest allowed me to instruct them on every detail of how I had been doing Grandma Neva’s care so that it could remain the same, whether I was there or not. That was really important to us.” The family was able to live without the fear of Grandma Neva falling off the commode or bruising in the shower while remaining involved in her life and her care.

 

Hospice of the Midwest made sure that Neva’s room in the nursing home was comfortable for Neva and her family.  They paid attention to every detail, even picking up pizza when extended family members arrived. The nurses were responsive to every need, visiting at 4:00 am one morning when Neva’s breathing changed. Hospice [of the Midwest] received a call and rushed right over to assess her condition and make her as comfortable as possible.

 

Hospice of the Midwest’s social worker assisted the family with one of Neva’s final wishes—a cocktail hour for Neva and her dearest girlfriends, something Neva enjoyed pre-nursing home. Such extra levels of service allowed the family to truly cherish their last moments with Grandma Neva. The moments before her death were happy ones—lots of family visits and time spent reminiscing over tales of fishing for snapper, gardening, shopping and “gambling nickels until she just couldn’t sit there no more.”

 

“We are extremely grateful to Hospice of the Midwest,” say family members. “The hospice staff was constantly in contact with us. Even today, their bereavement counselor calls out of the blue to see how the family is doing.”

 

 

Stories like Neva’s illustrate how families experiencing the same issues might distinguish hospice myth from fact and benefit from hospice services.

 

Myth: Hospice means I’ve given up on my loved one.

Fact: Hospice does not mean “giving up hope”, but can help people revise what they may hope for. Hospice focuses on maximizing the quality of life based on individual’s choices, so that the person may live life as fully as possible.

 

Myth: Hospice is a place.

Fact: Hospice care usually takes place in the home, but can be provided in any environment in which you live, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care facilities.

 

Myth:  Hospice will make my loved one die faster.

Fact:  Receiving hospice care does not mean death is imminent. In fact, there is proof that many hospice patients live longer. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize the medical condition and address other needs. While hospice care is generally focused on patients where life expectancy is six months or less, some individuals actually improve and may be discharged from hospice care. They can then be re-admitted later when it is necessary.

 

A fascinating article in The New Yorker  dispels this myth, and describes a study showing that hospice patients sometimes even live longer than patients who are not receiving hospice:

“…Researchers followed 4,493 Medicare patients with either terminal cancer or congestive heart failure. They found no difference in survival time between hospice and non-hospice patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer.”

 

Myth:  Families have to pay for hospice care.

Fact:  Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medi-Cal and most private insurances. Optimal Hospice Care and Optimal Hospice Foundation want all families to have access to hospice care, regardless of their ability to pay. The Optimal Hospice Foundation is there to fill the gap for families who are uninsured or whose insurance benefits have run out.

 

Myth:  Hospice is just for the patient.

Fact:  Hospice provides comfort care to patients, as well as respite and emotional support to family members. The quality of life – not only for the patient, but also family members and others who are caregivers – is the highest priority. Bereavement  support is offered for at lest a year following the death of a loved one.