Checking Off Bucket List Items

At Hospice of the Midwest, we take the question, “What’s on this person’s bucket list?” quite seriously. When asked by our Medical Director, Dr. John Hamerly at an Interdisciplinary Group meeting, we looked to the next deserving hospice patient, Ellie. Ellie was an avid horse back rider all her life and best friend Trish (for 60+ years) was her companion on trail riding, camping, attending rodeos, and enjoying the great outdoors. Her bucket list item was something easy to accomplish; to see and pet a horse!

A phone call was made to Becky and Linda, who volunteer with River Valley Riders, a Therapeutic Riding program for people with physical and cognitive behavioral disabilities. ( Both agreed to transport (from Osceola, Wisconsin!) and be the Therapeutic Safety Supervisors for the visit at The Estates of Bloomington, where Ellie resides. During the visit, other patients, staff, and visiting family members also came to enjoy petting Rio, the Therapy Horse and posing for group pictures.

“Thank you for making this happen!  It has been such a blessing to everyone!” Trish told everyone.

Thank you to Hospice of the Midwest, RN Case Manager, Nora, Volunteers; Kevin for photography,  as well as Becky and Linda, for all the work of making this patient’s wish come true!

Choose Hospice of the Midwest – A Personal Testimony

“This whole journey started for me and my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, while we were staying at the hospital. There were quite a few residents on her floor who were using Hospice of the Midwest, so they were always getting to know other patients on the floor and being friendly as they passed by. When we decided we wanted hospice, it was good for my mother because she was familiar with them. I was also at ease because of their familiarity and having seen Hospice of the Midwest working with other families on the same floor. I knew I was going to be ready with open arms to them and their services.

Low and behold, as time went on, I truly realized how important hospice was. We all needed it; not just my mom. Hospice of the Midwest was so loving and always there for me, as the daughter of a patient. My personality is such that I can better cope with things the more I am aware of what is going on or what is going to happen. This takes away the uncertainty and unknown of how a situation is going to play out. You wonder what it is going to be like, but they gave me so much information and cared so much for my mother and me. I never felt like I was facing this situation alone, and I knew it would not be traumatic. I had knowledge. The power of knowledge, for me, helped in my mom’s passing. The last week I was prepared and ready to let her go.

There were many aspects I was pleased with – but there are a couple encounters that really stuck out to me. One day, all the nurses and staff who were working with my mother came in to do paperwork. Afterwards, we were all sitting in my mother’s room and they just wanted me to talk about my mom and what her life was like. They really wanted to know everything about her. It made me feel good to talk about her and tell what her life was like, and I could tell it helped them, too. This helped them know more than that she was simply my mother who wasn’t doing well.

Another moment that stands out with me was three days before she passed. As I said before – knowledge is power. I was there with my mom and it was clear she was very agitated and uncomfortable. It was very hard for me to see what she was going through and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay there. The staff was able to notice how I was feeling and gave me an explanation as to why this was happening. Ensuring they would make her more comfortable, they made sure I knew it would be okay to go home for a bit. They were able to read me like a book and I was so thankful they recognized what was going on and made me feel okay to go home. It was wonderful.

Each staff member’s personality was so great and the team was simply the best. They were people who should be working in hospice. My family was so lucky to have the team from Hospice of the Midwest and that they took the time to know us before my mother even needed them. We were very blessed – and I don’t throw that word around lightly.

I am not afraid to tell people that Hospice of the Midwest is amazing. The team was phenomenal. I cannot stress enough that knowledge is power. All that I learned throughout the process of my mom declining was very powerful and it was good power. It was not scary because I knew what to expect. I was amazed at the difference they made.

My advice is this: Don’t go through this and think you can do it by yourself. Even if you think you have it together, you really don’t. I’m so glad I had hospice directly involved at the end of my mother’s life. People need to take advantage of hospice and be encouraged to use it.”

B.T., Daughter of HOMW Patient

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

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