Circle of Life – Partner, Plan, Do

Last week we were thrilled to host an expert panel representing the American Hospital Associations’ (AHA) Circle of Life Award. The award honors leadership in end of life care, and Memorial is one of seven finalists for 2013/14.

Rick Linneweh, Dr. Patrick Waber (Hospice physician), Dr. Tim Melhorn (Hospice Steering Committee Chair/Foundation Board member), Carolyn Neiswender (Home Care and Hospice), Julie Cicero (Lead Social Worker) and Laurie Oswalt (Memorial Chaplain) greeted the team from AHA, gave a tour of Cottage in the Meadow and engaged in dialog about the community vision that resulted in Cottage.

“Have you videotaped these people?” was their comment after they heard the spontaneous and heartfelt comments from members of the Hospice Steering Committee over lunch: Royal Keith (Hospital Board Chair Emeritus), Mary Jo Perez (founding member Palliative Care Community), Mary Place (Mayor Emeritus, Hospice Volunteer), and Doug Rich (Co-chair Hospice Steering). What a quilt you weave—of community involvement and intention.”

We all had a buoyant feeling of joy and pride in our team and our work in Yakima. Memorial’s special brand of “Can-do: Partner, Plan, Do!” came to life in the six hour visit as we explained the decade long effort to engage the community in better meeting end of life needs.

Brandon Johnson (Hospice Volunteer Coordinator) brought to life the profound role of volunteers in hospice; Laurie, the growing role of clergy; Julie, the importance of the bereavement programs; and Dottie Hildebrand, the remarkable activities within the Transitions program which serves those not ready for hospice but in need of palliative care and support. Rosemary Gottlieb (Hospice/Cottage Volunteer), on video, closed our visit with her special brand of expression that felt like a prayer.

View Rosemary’s video …

Throughout the visit, Thela McCurdy (Manager, Cottage in the Meadow) and her team at the Cottage simultaneously participated by caring for the houseful of patients and families.

Now, we wait—winners will be announced next summer. But, in the meantime, we all grin at each other and know that we are on the path, challenging each other to keep striving to make sure everyone we serve has access to palliative care when they need it, and hospice care when and where they need it.

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