Hospice News

Hospice of Holland’s mission is to provide the most compassionate and highest quality end-of-life care. To accomplish this goal we are continuously developing and expanding programs to better serve patients, families, and the West Michigan community. See Hospice of Holland’s most recent news below, including new programs, a new outpatient clinic, and the addition of a second full time, board-certified physician.

October, 2020

“Making Each Day Special, Even in Difficult Times” by Denise Stancill, Director of Business Development, Hospice of Holland Inc.

These last several weeks have proven to be a challenge for all of us on many fronts. With the onset of this unexpected need for such significant change to our daily lives it is ever more challenging to find ways to make the most of each day when so many options to do so feel quite limited. It requires the willingness to be open to viewing life and each passing moment differently; somewhat similar to the feeling of loss that a hospice patient may experience, soon after learning their prognosis includes a terminal diagnosis.

These times are overwhelming, complicated and sometimes distressing for sure; together, we will get through it all. Even during this difficult time, Hospice can help individuals facing end of life make the most of life. Adding more life to every day is our calling. Being there to help patients and their families make each day special is what hospice care is all about. Many of our patients become like friends and many of the moments shared during the end-of-life journey are the most significant.

The hospice care team works to ease the burden of caregivers by providing emotional support as they care for someone who is dear to them. The entire hospice team of providers, nurses, social workers, hospice aides, chaplains and volunteers all work together to ensure they achieve patient comfort and quality of life, especially during the final days. Grief counseling and support is available to family members and the bereaved for 13 months following the loss of a loved one. Bereavement Counselors assist survivors of hospice patients to be able to transition through their grief, moving forward and finding hope.

The end-of-life period can be a cherished time – a time of peaceful reflection and comfort. Although this stage of life can be confusing, Hospices exist to help. We guide patients and their loved ones each day as they face their final days and provide assistance and support to ensure to each day is lived to its fullest. Together, hospice providers and their patients and family members get through it all.

As we continue to maneuver through the challenges of trying to stay healthy and well during this time of uncertainty while attempting to find the meaning of what quality of life now means for us each day, one things remains constant. As a Hospice provider, we desire to bring care and comfort to those who need it. We remain passionate about honoring the sacredness of human life. And, while we may need to temporarily alter our methods as to how we deliver care, we will continue to be a comforting presence even in difficult times.

For more information about Hospice of Holland programs and services, to make a referral, or for answers to your questions about hospice care please call 616.396.2972. View hollandhospice.org and hear from others why care from Hospice of Holland made a difference for their loved one.

September, 2020

“Embrace Living” by Denise Stancill, Director of Business Development, Hospice of Holland Inc.

Every so often, and more recently during this time of COVID 19, I am reminded of the saying, “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. The saying brings to light the fact that our time here on earth is limited. Therefore, we as human beings are encouraged to spend each day making every second count. Since there are no “do-overs”, the goal is to live life to the fullest and spend time doing the things we enjoy; advice that these days feels sometimes easier said than done.

During these challenging times, much like at end-of-life, there is a real anxious feeling that exists as we all maneuver through unchartered territory, adjust to change, and redefine our definition of hope. To embrace living, especially during difficult times, requires, on some level, a willingness to accept all that life has to offer, including all its complexities.

Have you ever been around one of those individuals who fully embraces every moment of every day and somehow manages to make the most of it regardless of their circumstances? I feel privileged to have encountered more than one. Often, I find they have a quality about them that makes them not only interesting to be around, but also inspiring. It is hard not to notice that as they continue in their pursuit of savoring each moment, they not only find opportunities to embrace life they create them. In so doing, they often appear to be more at peace overall with whatever comes their way.
Acceptance and learning how to embrace living whether it is in general, during difficult times, or at end-of-life is for many no small task. Often it is through the journey of acceptance that one begins to realize how precious life really is. This realization can help foster a time to re-evaluate priorities, take inventory of goals that have been met (or not), and provide an opportunity to refocus simply on what matters.

At end of life, hospice providers exist to assist those who are terminally ill and who are in need of support. Caregivers help patients and their loved ones live each day to its fullest and help them carry out their end-of-life wishes as they face their final days. Understanding what makes people want to live is at the heart of delivering hospice care and contributes toward our ability to help enable them to embrace life.

During these challenging times, it is important we find moments to rest, refresh, and renew where possible. In our house, a short walk outside, corny jokes from kids around the dinner table, and the occasional curbside turtle sundae have helped our family embrace living; even amidst these ever-challenging days.

For more information about Hospice of Holland programs and services, to make a referral, or for answers to your questions about hospice care please call 616.396.2972. View hollandhospice.org to learn and hear from others why care from Hospice of Holland made a difference for their loved one.

August, 2020

“Celebrate Life” by Denise Stancill, Director of Business Development – Hospice of Holland Inc.

Celebrating may not be the first word that comes to mind when you are nearing end of life of a loved one. But what better time to celebrate life, for all it’s given, and for all the memories. The hospice mission is personal and often challenging…to help a dying patient. To make the most of each day and every precious moment.

It is common for many to raise the question of a Hospice employee, “How can you work there?” Certainly, given the nature of hospice work, it is reasonable to wonder what the draw is for such a highly complex and sensitive specialty. It is no stretch of the imagination to perceive the work of caregiving to terminally ill people as feeling heavy and overwhelming due to the daily focus on end of life.

The reason for the draw is Hospice, by nature, is all about celebrating life and all the things that make people want to live. Hospices exist to honor the sacredness of human life and the unique pages of each person’s story as they journey through it. The real focus of hospice care is about living.

The hospice care team works to enable those who engage with Hospice to feel they are important and worthy of dignity and respect each day they live while under hospice care. Caregiving at this sacred time in life is about celebrating who each individual is and honoring their own end-of-life wishes; what is important to them.

The end of life is also an opportunity to set differences aside, to reconnect, perhaps even reconcile with those who may have drifted away. Quite often, the final days together are filled with stories and laughter…a celebration of sorts.

I quite often find we are given little reminders over the course of a given day of just how precious the gift of life is; even amidst those times where the moments do not always feel so perfect. In our office at Hospice of Holland, we have countless pictures displayed in our workroom of our staff members celebrating life in various ways that are unique to them. Some of the images portray quiet walks in the park, some highlight special occasions and group activities, but many are of the simple moments spent with family and friends (and often a favorite pet!).

The pictures are there in part as a subset of our employee wellness program. The images portrayed are often reflective of efforts we make as a team to live healthy and experience a higher quality of life. They convey little moments in time where we are deliberate to engage in living. Much like what hospice care-givers seek to promote when caring for our end-of-life patients.

July, 2020

Russ Scaffede Named Hospice of Holland’s Volunteer of the Year

Hospice VolunteerRuss Scaffede has been volunteering with Hospice of Holland since May, 2014. Prior to relocating to Michigan, Russ served as a board member for a hospice agency in Kentucky. He exudes a knowledge and passion for hospice care and is eager to help support people during their end of life journeys. In 2019, Russ accumulated more than 200 volunteer hours despite having spent several months down south for the winter.

Most of Russ’ volunteer time is spent as a companion to patients and their family members. Russ has had numerous compliments from families and staff members regarding his instantaneous ability to connect with people and his tactful, compassionate approach to communication and relationship building. He can navigate through the often-complex emotional rollercoaster that comes with being at the end of life. These qualities help make Russ an ideal hospice volunteer.

In addition to Russ’ time spent as a patient companion, he has also been a big support to Hospice of Holland’s marketing department; running informational booths at expos and assisting with crucial fundraising events, such as a car show in the middle of summer. Russ’ eagerness to use his many gifts and talents to help spread the message and values of Hospice of Holland cannot help but to inspire others.

April, 2019

Claire Vogelzang Named Hospice of Holland’s Volunteer of the Year

picture of Claire VogelzangVogelzang has been a volunteer with Hospice of Holland since late 2017. In under a year and a half, she has accrued over 200 hours of service. She provides companionship to patients, respite care for weary caregivers, and vigil-sitting at the bedside in the night hours during a patient’s last days.

“Claire’s positive attitude radiates in all that she does, and has patients and staff alike remarking on the joy she spreads,” said Jody Correa, Hospice of Holland Volunteer Coordinator. “In one example of her dedication, she assisted a patient to her optometrist appointment. An activity that seems so simple can prove quite difficult for someone facing a life-limiting illness. Claire took it upon herself to organize transportation to the doctor’s office, sit with her throughout the appointment, and arrange the bus back to the patient’s facility. This simple act provided so much care and comfort to the patient, as well as to our staff, knowing that she was being well cared for during her time away from her residence.”

About Hospice of Holland Volunteer Services
Hospice of Holland volunteers serve individuals in Ottawa, Allegan, Kent, Van Buren, and Muskegon counties. The types of support provided to patients and their loved ones by hospice volunteers include running errands, preparing light meals, sitting with the hospice patient when caretakers need or want to take time for themselves, and lending emotional support and companionship to patients and their loved ones. For more information about Hospice of Holland services, please call 616.396.2972 or visit hollandhospice.org.

November 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Jamee Valdez-Welch Gives Massages to Hospice of Holland Clients

There’s a power in touch, and for those in the community who are living with terminal illnesses, the gift of a massage can offer a lot. For many clients of Hospice of Holland, pain and stress often are a part of the life they lead. That’s where Jamee Valdez-Welch steps in. Valdez-Welch, of Hamilton, is a massage therapist at Balanced Health in Zeeland who has been volunteering her services at Hospice of Holland for more than 10 years.

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November 2018

Lake Effect, BBOP Join for Benefit Concert

Hailing from Holland, and known throughout the area, The Big Band of Praise will join with special guest, Lake Effect – The Choir, in presenting the concert, “Wait’ll You See!” It promises to be an inspiring evening of music to benefit Hospice of Holland. The concert will took place 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Beechwood Church in Holland.

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April 2018

Hospice of Holland Celebrates Volunteers

Jodi Wilcome (L) and Linda Hulst, 2018 HOH Volunteer of the Year.

Hospice of Holland staff and volunteers gathered Thursday, April 18 at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Event. The purpose of this event was to honor and award the incredible individuals who dedicate their time and energy to provide vital services to hospice patients and their families.

Hor d’oeurves were served and entertainment was provided by Rick Hayes with special guest Scot Reynolds. Volunteer Coordinator Jodi Wilcome presented the Hospice Service Awards to several volunteers including awards for office support, comforting choices, and patient care. Dedicated volunteer Linda Hulst was honored as the Volunteer of the Year.

Linda has only been volunteering with Hospice of Holland for one year, but she has left an incredible impression on both the staff and patients. In 2017 alone she logged over 200 hours of service. Linda contributes to numerous volunteer programs including office support, providing companionship to patients, and granting respite care to weary caregivers. She also participates in the Volunteer Vigil Program to ensure that no patient has to die alone.

“Linda isn’t afraid of anything,” said Wilcome. “Some volunteers elect to take on a hard to fill assignment and she is no exception. Her communication skills are top notch – she’s very clear and concise when she has questions or concerns and she’s very receptive to feedback. She has exceeded all expectations and I am happy to name her as our Volunteer of the Year.”

November 2017

Congratulations to our 2017 Super Bowl Raffle Winner!

Congratulations to Jennifer Novak, winner of our 2017 Super Bowl raffle!

The winning ticket was drawn on November 17th and Jennifer will receive 50% off ticket sales to the Super Bowl. The prize was based on the number of tickets sold. Thank you to all who supported Hospice of Holland through this raffle. Your participation benefits programs and services offered by Hospice of Holland that are not currently covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Please like, follow, and share our page to stay connected and find out about upcoming events and activities!

May 2017

Hospice of Holland Names Volunteer of the Year

L to R: Jodi Wilcome, Volunteer Coordinator; Mary DeWitt, 2017 HOH Volunteer of the Year.

Long time volunteer and Holland resident Mary Dewitt has been honored as Volunteer of the Year at Hospice of Holland’s annual volunteer banquet held on April 27. Mary has been volunteering for Hospice of Holland since 1985. She has more years of service under her belt than any other current volunteer.

Mary has contributed over 300 hours to numerous Hospice of Holland volunteer programs. She provides companionship to patients, respite care for weary caregivers, and contributes to the flower delivery program. Mary is actively involved in the “no one dies alone” vigil program, which requires her to be on call to sit at the bedside of someone who is actively dying during the overnight hours. “She is always willing to help in whatever way she is asked,” said Jodi Wilcome, Volunteer coordinator for Hospice of Holland. “Her hard work and dedication was especially visible when she cared for a challenging patient who lived in less than ideal circumstances. Mary would update me, often live, through the course of this assignment. Each week, I wondered if she might ask to be reassigned, as I saw her struggle with the visits. But she showed up every time. And she supported her patient right up until the very end. This patient did not have an easy life, but in the end, she knew that someone cared, thanks to Mary. I am so proud to have her as one of our many dedicated volunteers.”

Mary became a volunteer over 30 years ago, in honor of losing a close friend to cancer. “My first patient I had for two years and five years later I was a volunteer for her husband,” Mary said following the banquet. “It blesses me to sit at a quiet vigil and be present with someone who might otherwise die alone, provide respite care for families who deserve it, or arrange flowers to brighten our patients’ day. Volunteering for Hospice of Holland has truly been a great opportunity and learning experience. Giving dignity to our families and patients is what I enjoy most.”

1920s Themed Gala to Benefit Hospice of Holland

Hospice of Holland is bringing back the splendor and excitement of the 1920’s with the 32nd annual Celebration Gala. The event will take place on Thursday, May 18th at Baker Lofts. Those attending the event are encouraged to dress in 1920’s attire, and live jazz music from the band entourage will accompany the evening.

Doors to the “speakeasy” will open at 6:30pm, and guests will have the opportunity enjoy fine dining from eleven of the area’s best restaurants and chefs, and prohibition themed cocktails at the open bar. Enticing silent and live auction items donated by local retailers, merchants, and community members will be on display and available to bid on throughout the evening. Guests can participate in the “bootleg wine grab” for the chance to go home with a $100 bottle of wine. Boxes of fudge from Kilwins will be available for purchase, and five lucky box holders will be entered in a drawing to win a mystery item from Tiffany & Co.!

Holland mayor, The Honorable Nancy DeBoer, will serve as the evening’s special host. Nancy is a supporter of Hospice of Holland’s mission, and is also known for her involvement with programs such as the Holland Youth Advisory Council, the Labor Day BoardWALK, and the Pay it Forward Holland initiative. She will set the tone for attendees as they listen to moving testimonials by those who have been touched by Hospice of Holland’s services.

Tickets for this event are still available, and can be purchased for only $125 each on our website or by calling 616.396.2972. Participation is limited and prompt reservations are advised. All proceeds from this event help finance vital programs and services that currently go unfunded by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

February 2017

Hospice of Holland Announces “Understand Hospice” Initiative

I wish I would have called sooner. These are words the staff at Hospice of Holland hears time and again. Studies show that patients and families benefit more the longer they receive comfort care under hospice. However, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) reports that thirty five percent of all hospice patients receive care for less than 7 days.1 Countless patients suffering with a life limiting illness tend to avoid the difficult but necessary conversations surrounding end-of-life care and instead, concentrate exclusively on a curative approach to their diseases. Many people don’t know when the right time is to transition from curative measures to comfort care. Oftentimes, this is due to misconceptions surrounding hospice care. “The word hospice is a turn off to many patients and their families,” says Denise Stancill, Director of Business Development. “Hospice of Holland intends to shift the misperception individuals often have about hospice and what it entails.”

In order to accomplish this, Hospice of Holland is announcing an educational awareness initiative called Understand Hospice, as a way to curb the stigma attached to the word hospice. This endeavor is designed to bridge the gap between the time a person needs hospice and the years leading up to it. It is targeted toward individuals who have not yet heard of hospice or are intimidated by the idea of hospice care. Understand Hospice will pose a variety of messages across digital and print media in an attempt to educate individuals on the true goals of hospice, address common fears, and encourage uninhibited conversation about hospice care and end-of-life planning. Hospice of Holland has introduced a website, understandhospice.org, featuring comprehensive information on what to expect during end-of-life, facts and statistics, patient and caregiver interviews, as well as a sequence of educational videos. In addition, Hospice of Holland will introduce social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube in order to create materials that are easily shared and accessed by the campaign’s target audience. Outdoor and print materials will be utilized to increase awareness and spark community intrigue. “In many peoples’ minds, accepting hospice care is the same as giving up hope,” added Denise. “This preconception exists because our services are initiated at such a difficult juncture. Our objective is simply to assist people in living the fullest lives possible in spite of their illness. Changing the perception from ‘giving up’ to a focus on ‘quality of life’ is difficult, but can be done. It is important that our community collectively understands how advantageous hospice services really are so fewer families are in the position of saying ‘I wish I would have called sooner.’”

1“NHPCO’s Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America,” National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, September 2015. URL: https://www.nhpco.org/nhpco-releases-updated-edition-of-hospice-facts-and-figures-report

September 2014

Farewell to Our Good Friend and Mentor Dr. Jerome H. Wassink

Hospice of Holland bids farewell to Dr. Jerome Wassink, who died on Friday, September 5, 2014, at his home surrounded by his loving family.

Dr. Wassink was one of a small group of local residents whose vision gave rise to Hospice of Holland’s incorporation in April of 1981. Dr. Wassink became the Medical Director in November of 1981, just before enrolling the organization’s first patient in January of 1982. He continued in that role through the year 2000; most of that time he served as a volunteer.

With kindness, compassion, coaching, and gentle humor, Dr. Wassink was both appreciated and respected by those who were privileged to work with him during his 19 years at Hospice of Holland. Dr. Wassink was instrumental in setting a firm foundation for the organization and was a role model for all who came after him. He was always an advocate and supporter of quality end-of-life care for the residents in our community.

We thank Dr. Wassink for his capable, gracious, and humble leadership and we honor his memory. We will remember his invaluable contribution to Hospice of Holland for many years to come.

June 2014

Hospice of Holland Focuses on In-Home Operations and Non-Hospice Palliative Care Services to Off-Set Financial Losses Brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

(Holland, MI) – Hospice of Holland announces today due to changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act, it will discontinue operations at its hospice residence, the Hospice House, and will focus on in-home hospice operations and non-hospice palliative care services. Hospice of Holland’s Board of Directors made the decision during its June 12, 2014, board meeting. Effective June 23, 2014, Hospice of Holland will no longer be accepting new patients at the Hospice House and effective July 18, 2014 will discontinue operations at that location.

“Changes in healthcare at the national level, particularly with hospice reimbursement rates, have dramatically affected our operating margin,” states Torrey Husmann, Executive Director. “We have a strong financial footing for the provision of hospice care in facility and home settings, which is the largest part of our overall operations, unfortunately, given all the changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act, the operational model of the Hospice House is unsustainable,” says Husmann.

Under the Affordable Care Act, hospice programs will experience major cuts in reimbursement over the next 5 years. It is estimated these cuts will be 12% or greater. In 2013, Hospice of Holland experienced $165,000 in cuts to reimbursement and in 2014 Hospice of Holland anticipates an additional $365,000 in reimbursement cuts that will dramatically affect our operating income. Since it’s opening, the Hospice House has operated with a deficit, which has increased over time due to increased regulations, the high cost of care, and lowered reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance providers. The Hospice House on average loses $700,000 a year; however, in 2014 the Hospice House is projected to lose $1.2 million. Despite aggressively managing the cost of operating the facility, Hospice of Holland needs to discontinue operating a hospice residence in order to remain a strong and viable hospice program.

“Hospice House usage is 13% of our total patient care and yet takes the majority of our financial resources to stay open. We cannot continue to support this trend if we want to remain open and service our community with in-home hospice care, which is 87% of our operation,” says Husmann.

“This was a very difficult decision for everyone involved,” says Denise Stancill, Director of Business Development. “But, when faced with the reality that Hospice of Holland would not be able to survive for the long-term if we continued operating the Hospice House at a large deficit, the decision was clear.”

Since its inception in 1981, over 10,000 individuals have received caring and compassionate care in their final days from Hospice of Holland. Hospice of Holland provides pain management, counseling support, bereavement services, disease specific care and non-hospice palliative care to patients and their loved ones in Ottawa, Allegan, Kent, Van Buren and Muskegon Counties. On average Hospice of Holland provides hospice care to 105 patients every day in homes and at area facilities including hospitals and nursing homes.

May 2014

Hospice of Holland has been named a 2014 Hospice Honors recipient, a prestigious award recognizing hospices providing the best patient care as rated by the patient’s caregiver.

(Holland, MI) – Established by Deyta, this prestigious annual honor recognizes hospices that continuously provide the highest level of satisfaction through their care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view. Deyta used the Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) survey results from more than 1,700 partnering hospice agencies contained in Deyta’s FEHC database with an evaluation period of October 2012 through September 2013. Deyta identified Hospice Honors recipients by evaluating hospices’ performance on a set of eighteen satisfaction indicator measures. The set of questions included only indicator measures, omitting qualifying, leader, and demographic questions. Individual hospice performance scores were aggregated for the evaluation period and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a national average score calculated from Deyta’s FEHC database.

“We are thrilled to present Hospice Honors for the second year in a row. We are honored to serve such a dedicated industry, and we look forward to recognizing top performers each year for their hard work and dedication,” said Kevin Porter, President and CEO of Deyta.

Hospice of Holland, Denise Stancill, Director of Business Development, credits exceptional staff, clinical expertise, individualized care, and the drive to deliver West Michigan the highest quality end-of-life care as key factors that applied to being named a 2014 Hospice Honors recipient. “Since 1981, our mission has been to provide the most compassionate and highest quality end-of-life care to those in our community facing a terminal diagnosis. It’s something we try never to lose sight of as we design programs, hire staff, and deliver care to each patient we serve,” Stancill says. “Thirty-three years later, our commitment to the mission remains strong and that focus will continue for many years to come. We are honored to be recognized for this award.”

May 2014

Carl Underhill, Hospice of Holland 2013 Volunteer of the Year

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Carl Underhill began volunteering for Hospice of Holland in the fall of 2012. As a recently retired military man. Carl was looking for ways to give back to his community, using his listening and writing skills. Since 2012, Carl has given hundreds of hours of care to Hospice of Holland patients through respite visits, vigil visits, and by conducting life review interviews.

One patient Carl interviewed last year shared how important it was to her that she was able to leave her legacy with her family. It gave her great comfort to know her story would live on in her own words, as recorded by Carl.

Thank you Carl. We are thankful for all you do for Hospice of Holland patients and their loved ones.

September 2012

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