Hospice of Holland’s mission is to provide the most compassionate and highest 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.
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.
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: http://www.nhpco.org/sites/default/files/public/Statistics_Research/2015_Facts_Figures.pdf
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.
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.
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.”
Carl Underhill, Hospice of Holland 2013 Volunteer of the Year
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.