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Published on May 16, 2019

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Hospice Service Pays Tribute to Veterans

Some partnerships are all about providing better services to those who need them.

That’s an apt description for the ways Avera@Home’s hospice are teaming up with the We Honor Veterans program, an effort that combines education and training to better serve – and honor – veterans.

“It’s a unique opportunity for our professionals to learn and to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of these patients,” said Nathel Cody, RN, MSN, an agency manager with Avera@Home in Mitchell, S.D. “Each agency must meet criteria the program establishes, and while our home health and home medical equipment teams are striving to do the same, Avera’s hospice has gone furthest in this multi-year achievement. We aim to go as high as possible – the vets we serve are worth it.”

The effort works to help every health professional on the hospice team – as well as all its volunteers – have better knowledge and understanding of the unique circumstances of patients with military service.

The Veterans’ Administration in collaboration with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) makes the program possible, along with agencies who wish to embark on the program’s evaluation.

Helping Those Who Served

Since more veterans are reaching ages where hospice services may be important to them and their families, We Honor Veterans can help care agencies who hope to provide the best possible service to these men and women.

“The number of patients we’re seeing who fit into the program has gone up over the last few years and it will continue to increase,” Cody said. “Much of the effort is about education, so that we can better understand not just what they went through in their time in the military generally, but with specifics, to help us with any challenges they might face.”

Referrals are Welcome

Patients themselves, members of their family or local veterans’ affairs officers, such as county agency staffers, can refer veterans to the We Honor Veterans or hospice program.

So too can VA hospital providers or family doctors. In some cases, patients who received care through the federal program can then change to Avera’s hospice care when needed.

“We often meet with families and patients, and explain what the program can offer in terms of help,” she said. “An important part of our effort is a pinning ceremony, which is a short, meaningful method of honoring them. It can take place at a hospice site, at the veteran’s home or in long-term care facility. It must be performed by a veteran.”

Cody, who is a U.S. Army veteran, has been a part of many of these ceremonies, and said they are just part of the overall effort.

“They seem to really appreciate the pinning, and we’ll have their friends and family come to take part in it,” she said. “For some families, the steps we take with their veteran who is in our care may lead to a deeper conversation among the family. We feel honored to help facilitate that, or to provide any other help we can to those who served.”

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