(Alexandria, Va) – Minutes after Elizabeth Edwards was presented with NHPCO’s Person of the Year Award, she took a moment at the podium to look at her notes as a shout came from the audience, “We love you!” A wide smile brightened her face as the audience of 1,600 broke out in spontaneous applause, filling the room with positive energy and optimism that was reinforced by Edwards’ remarks.
Edwards received NHPCO’s Person of the Year Award in recognition of her work as a fierce advocate for improved and accessible healthcare. In addition, she was acknowledged for her courage in the face of serious illness and life’s challenges and her willingness to share lessons learned from her experiences.
J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president/CEO, honored Edwards at the April 23rd opening session of the organization’s annual Management and Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.
The Person of the Year Award honors an individual outside of the hospice and palliative care community who is a true supporter of the hospice cause.
“Mrs. Edwards is rallying for changes to the healthcare system that will improve access, quality and—for those facing the end of life—comfort and dignity. Her personal experience in coping with cancer, caring for aging and ill parents, and her professional work in the legal and policy areas have made her a passionate proponent for change,” Schumacher said in his introduction.
A key message Edwards brought to the assembled leaders from hospice and palliative care programs across the nation was the obligation we all have of making sure that every American gets the care they need, when they need it, wherever they are.
Edwards stressed that an individual facing illness should never be defined by his/her medical condition. This philosophy—that puts the person at the center of care and emphasizes the dignity and individuality of all people—is one shared by hospice and palliative care providers.
A poignant moment came at the conclusion of her plenary address when she said she knew that one day she would need hospice care as a patient, and she thanked the attendees and all hospice professionals who care so compassionately for patients and families at the end of life.
She received a standing ovation and then graciously spent the next two hours signing autographs and copies of her book, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers.
Edwards served as the Honorary Chair of the National Hospice Foundation gala held the following Friday evening, which was attended by 600 guests. NHF’s annual gala is a philanthropic event supporting efforts to expand and improve care at the end of life.
As attention turns to the release of her new book and her publicized appearance on Oprah, NHPCO salutes Edwards for her efforts to advance care and compassion.
Vice President, Communications
For more information visit, http://www.nhpco.org