To achieve the Level 2 designation, Hospice of Northwest Michigan—conducted several educational and staff development programs, and integrated veteran-friendly activities in policies and procedures. Building relationships with organizations that serve veterans is another key requirement.
“We are truly honored to earn this distinction,” said Cheri Hoffman, Executive Director of Hospice of Northwest Michigan, affiliated with the local health department. “Achieving this level has involved a lot of learning on the part of our staff. We appreciate their dedication to our veteran population.” Hoffman said they are already at work to achieve Level 3 designation, which involves more staff and community education and partnerships. According to the We Honor Veterans organization, one in four people dying in the U.S. every day are veterans.
“By recognizing the unique needs of veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness, we are able to accompany and guide these men and women toward a more peaceful ending,” said Tina Lamont, Director of Home Care & Hospice for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “For veterans who experienced combat service or other trauma, this can be particularly important as experiences from the past may resurface at the end of life.”
More than 1,000 hospice organizations across the country have joined We Honor Veterans and are increasing their skills and capacity for serving Veterans. Activities range from utilizing a military history checklist at admission, recognition events like pinning ceremonies and certificate presentations, to outreach to other community organizations. Additionally, We Honor Veterans is helping hospices work more effectively with VA medical facilities in their communities.
“All hospices are serving veterans but often aren't aware of that person's service in the armed forces. Through We Honor Veterans we are taking a giant step forward in helping hospice and palliative care professionals and volunteers understand and serve veterans at the end of life,” said J. Donald Schumacher, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization President. “It is time that we step up and acquire the necessary skills and fulfill our mission to serve these men and women with the dignity they deserve.”
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about We Honor Veterans, call Hoffman at 231-547-6092 or 800-551-4140 or visit www.wehonorveterans.org.