Friday, September 13, 2019

Final Day of Virtual Hill Week - Take Action!

Activity throughout Virtual Hill Week (September 9 – 13) has been amazing. Almost 400 advocates have taken over 2,500 Advocacy Actions! This morning, Hospice Action Network announced that there are 18 (!!) New Bill Cosponsors for legislation the hospice community supports.Click here for the list of new cosponsors.

HAN really want to get up to 500 Advocates and 3,000 Advocacy Actions, as well as ensure that every state has their voices heard! Today is the final day of Virtual Hill Day 2019. If you haven’t yet contacted your Members of Congress, please take five minutes to do so.

If you are very short on time, the most important action you can take is making a phone call on behalf of the Rural Access to Hospice Act. When you log in to the Take Action Module and put in your home address, look for the phone icon on the far left to get the phone numbers and short script. Phone calls have a higher likelihood of making an impact, so we encourage everyone to PLEASE, make your phone calls and send emails!

Hospice Action Networks thanks everyone who has participated so far: it is amazing to see the impact you can have in just a few days.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Hello and Goodbye: Perinatal Loss Doula Volunteers

The Suncoast Hospice Perinatal Loss Program started in 2004, has recently grown to include a new focus on early first trimester losses and expanded training of volunteer perinatal loss doulas. Our program offers specialized comfort, education, and support to patients and families who may experience, or have already experienced, a pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or death of a baby shortly after birth. Our compassionate team of expert nurses, social workers, chaplains, and trained doula volunteers help patients and their families find understanding and peace through every step of their journeys.

Perinatal loss is often disregarded, its impact negated, leaving the woman and her family struggling emotionally and spiritually. Our doulas (also known as birth companions) understand that birth is a key life experience. They listen thoughtfully to what is important to the woman and her family regarding the birth, providing insight on options for managing the labor and delivery. Doulas offer physical and emotional support to mothers and their partners during labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. They provide a quiet, consistent presence throughout this experience.
After delivery, memory making is an important service that our doulas provide. This involves bathing and dressing the baby, creating hand and foot prints and molds, and obtaining hair locks. Empath Health sewing volunteers make special clothes and blankets used for the baby. These items are placed in a memory box for them to keep. Support pamphlets, brochures, and resources are given to the mother and family as applicable.

In addition, our counselors provide counseling prior to and after the loss. If the pregnancy results in a live birth, our team can work with the family and hospital staff to create a meaningful experience no matter the length of the child’s life. When appropriate, the family can be transferred home to receive care from our Suncoast Hospice pediatric team.

Our Perinatal Loss Program continues to grow and evolve which includes expansion to other hospitals. In turn, we have, and continue to expand the number of volunteer doulas in the program. This entails enhanced doula recruitment and training. To accomplish this, we continue to develop closer collaboration with our Empath Health volunteer department.

This session is intended to develop an increased recognition of the role of the doula during a perinatal loss. Provide a description of the special recruitment and training needs and requirements of Empath Health perinatal loss doula volunteers. Present and describe strategies to develop and implement a perinatal loss program using volunteer doulas.

By Vicki Haywood MSN,  RN, CPAN
Senior Staff Nurse/Care Team Manager
Children’s Program
Empath Health


Vicki Haywood is among the faculty for NHPCO's 2019 Interdisciplinary Conference at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. She will be presenting as part of the session, "Hello and Goodbye: Perinatal Loss Doula Volunteers," on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Virtual Hill Week Starts Today!

September 9-13, 2019, all hospice and palliative care advocates and supporters should join in Virtual Hill Week and contact their elected officials regarding the importance of hospice and palliative care and some of the legislation that will help improve access.

The Hospice Action Network makes participation easy. Visit the HAN online Take Action Module and you will find everything you need, from reviewing key messaging to finding your legislators and contacting them.

Should you want to take a couple extra minutes to familiarize yourself with this year's policy asks, so you can feel prepared, there is information on the HAN website.

All this week - Monday through Friday - join thousands of hospice and palliative care advocates to make your voice heard on Capitol Hill.  As a participant in Virtual Hill Week, you are standing up for patients and families!

Take action - and spread the word via social media with hashtag #MyHospice.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Fearing Death Can Cause Suffering

When in life does one come to confront the tough truth that each of us will eventually die? In my years as an internist caring for young and old alike, some people understand this early, and some people never get it. In denying death, we intensify our fear of it. Usually, however, it is sometime during their 50s that people first look into the eyes of death. Put it off as we may, the hard certainty is that we are all aging and one day an end will come. Shakespeare described advanced age in his play As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII (All the world’s a stage):

“. . . Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans (without) teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

Shakespeare’s description of advanced age during the 1600s is rather bleak and scary. I think, with modern medicine and the support of a loving family, we could do better. I clearly believe that advanced age and facing our own death should not fill us with dread. The following is a more hopeful version to end Shakespeare’s excerpt:

“. . . He did not have to end his life alone; If over time he’d shared his caring, raised the worth of others, fed the love he’d sown. His death would find him kindly prized and praised, While kin sang festive songs of joy, amazed.”

Fear comes from the oldest reptilian part of our brain. Fear helps us run from attackers but can also make us run from making important choices about our health. Fear can even bring us to push forward with treatment that may cause significant suffering, even when we are very old and even when treatment is futile and it’s time to quit.

Fear of dying can prevent us from making plans about end-of-life care and, most importantly, prevent us from talking to our families about those wishes. How do we want to be cared for if we should lose mental capacity from a stroke or dementia? Do we wish to have a feeding tube, resuscitation, antibiotics when there is no quality of life left, when one doesn’t recognize family and when the only option will be residing in a bed somewhere “sans everything.”

I would rather die and be:

“. . . kindly prized and praised, While kin sing festive songs of joy, amazed.”

By Richard P. Holm, MD
Medical Director
Brookings Hospital Hospice


Dr. Holm is among the faculty for NHPCO's 2019 Interdisciplinary Conference at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. His session, "How the Fear of Death Can Be Dangerous To Your Health," will be offered on day one of the IDC.

About the Author
A native of De Smet, South Dakota, Holm earned his B.S. in medicine in 1973 from the University of South Dakota and his M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine in 1975. Holm taught at Emory for three years and practiced medicine in Brookings, South Dakota for 38 years. He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame and cited as “South Dakota’s Voice of Healthcare” in 2017. His television show, a state-wide weekly call-in show on South Dakota Public Broadcasting is entering its 18th season and his musings on health, Prairie Doc® Perspectives are currently published as weekly columns in more than 100 newspapers in five states including South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas. “Life’s Final Season: A Guide for Aging and Dying with Grace” is currently available from Holm participates as a Goodreads Author and ongoing updates about his work can be found on the Prairie Doc® Facebook page and website.
Holm is semi-retired and continues to serve as Hospice Medical Director in Brookings.

Magical Orlando Opportunity for Pediatric Patients and Families During NHPCO’s 2019 IDC

In conjunction with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 2019 Interdisciplinary Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, fundraising affiliate National Hospice Foundation (NHF) is partnering with Give Kids the World Village to provide a special experience to a limited number of pediatric hospice or palliative care patients and their families.  

This trip would include theme park tickets, all meals and lodging for the patient and their parents and siblings, and travel reimbursement from NHF’s Lighthouse of Hope Fund.

“We are excited to offer pediatric patients and families this special opportunity to visit Orlando while hundreds of hospice and palliative care team members from across the country will be there for our annual Interdisciplinary Conference,” said President and CEO of NHPCO and NHF Edo Banach.

“Maximizing quality of life for patients and family caregivers is at the heart of the hospice philosophy of care. As part of our commitment to leading person- and family-centered care, NHPCO is honored to help some special young people make treasured memories with loved ones,” Banach added. 

Eligible patients for this opportunity are between the ages of 3-18, are under the care of an NHPCO member provider, and have not had a prior experience through a wish-granting organization. More information about this opportunity and the application form are available on NHF’s website.

Applications from NHPCO provider members are due October 14; questions may be directed to

About NHPCO’s Interdisciplinary Conference 
The 2019 Interdisciplinary Conference offers a unique blend of keynotes, educational sessions, preconference learning and networking opportunities grounded in the philosophy of the interdisciplinary team.  Attendees engage with colleagues from across the country as they learn about new approaches, successful models, and innovations from the field.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Don't Miss This 2019 IDC Preconference Offering

"Don’t Throw Solutions at the Problem to See What Sticks…a Six Sigma Approach to Focused Problem Solving" 

Hospice programs are experiencing increased scrutiny around the delivery, cost and quality of care.  Hospice providers may encounter further scrutiny from the general public due to the recent OIG report – Hospice Deficiencies Pose Risks to Medicare Beneficiaries, dated July 2019, as well as the media coverage on the report.  It is imperative that hospice providers continue to educate the public about quality care delivery.

Using a systematic approach to improve your quality of care delivery is now more important than ever.    Six Sigma/Lean Sigma is a process improvement method that provides organizations with the tools to improve business and quality processes. The increase in performance and decrease in process variation leads to a reduction in deficiencies, improvement in profits, better employee morale, and a higher quality of services.

At the upcoming 2019 Interdisciplinary Conference in Orlando, Florida, a session about the Six Sigma/Lean Sigma process will be available during the preconference offerings on Sunday, November 3. Participants will learn the difference between Six Sigma and the Lean Sigma approach to problem solving, as well as how to apply a systematic approach to process improvement and identification of root causes of any variance in quality.

As CMS moves closer to a restructured payment model for hospice, providers must ensure efficient delivery of quality hospice care.  An increase in performance and a decrease in process variation, by clinical staff, leads to a reduction in survey deficiencies and an increase in quality metrics reflected in CAHPS scores and Pepper Reports.  Please join us for this preconference offering - Don’t Throw Solutions at the Problem to See What Sticks…a Six Sigma Approach to Focused Problem Solving.

For more information about this preconference offering and the 2019 Interdisciplinary Conference, please visit

Submitted by Sarah McSpadden
President and COO, The Elizabeth Hospice

Sarah McSpadden

Thursday, August 22, 2019

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, October 12

People from around the world who have been impacted by a life-limiting illness - either personally or by supporting a loved one - will be making their voices heard calling for greater awareness and support of global palliative care services on Saturday, October 12, 2019.

The theme My Care, My Right aims to communicate that palliative care can be demanded by the public - and that, together, every person impacted by a life limiting illness can advocate for palliative care. 

This year's WHPCD 2019 comes on the heels of the UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) on September 23, 2019. Therefore, a key action for the campaign will be to call on governments to listen to people who need or access palliative care and support the inclusion of the essential package of palliative care in all national Universal Health Coverage (UHC) schemes.

The theme of My Care, My Right will address the importance of mobilizing communities, particularly volunteers to ensure that patient’s right to care are supported. Specifically addressing the premise that if care is a patient's right, how can UHC support carers to improve their well being under Sustainable Development Goal 3.8. 

How to get involved:
  • Subscribe to the WHPCA's newsletter for campaign updates and the launch of new campaign materials: 
  • Follow @worldhospiceday on Twitter
  • Follow hashtags: #mycaremyright and #whpcd19
Visit the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day website for resources and consider hosting an event in your community that you can register on the World Day website. 

This is a great way to get reach for November's National Hospice and Palliative Care Month outreach in the U.S.