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2011 Hospice Volunteers Recognized

Hospice Volunteers Recognized at NHPCO’s National Conference in San Diego, CA

Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards

The National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals (NCHPP) and the National Hospice Foundation recognize hospice volunteers who best reflect the universal concept of volunteerism in its truest sense – serving as inspiration to others. Recipients of the awards have demonstrated considerable commitment in terms of time, amount of responsibility assumed and longevity. They have also made a notable impact by significantly strengthening a hospice program or the lives of patients/families served and have undergone substantial personal growth as hospice volunteers. 

Organizational Support Award Winner - Bettye Zowarka Haven Hospice – Gainesville, FL

Bettye Zowarka with special guest presenter Torrey DeVitto

Bettye Zowarka, originally from Nashville, TN, has been volunteering for Haven Hospice since 1984.  Bettye is passionate about hospice care and how it helps not only the patients but the families.  After her father’s experience with a hospice in Tennessee, Bettye was committed to bringing the same care and support to the small rural communities of Keystone Heights and Melrose, Florida.  This stay-at-home mother of four, was so dedicated she did everything from convincing local administrators to serve her community, finding the staff and volunteers to work, raising money for supplies, to even opening a bank account for her hospice to use in her area.  She has been on admission visits, death visits, at besides in hospitals, and anywhere the community needed her to help them find hospice.  Prior to finding her hospice mission, Bettye was a Gray Lady, a carpool mom, a PTA supporter, and school volunteer. 

In addition to Bettye’s hospice volunteering, she is very active with her home church and at the Diocesan level.  She has been to Cuba with her church 14 times and has shared the hospice concept and her knowledge of hospice with the organizations they work with. Bettye is very grateful for the opportunities she has had as a Haven Hospice and church volunteer.  She was recognized by a local television station as a “Twelve who Care” community leader in 2009.  Bettye also stresses that she could not have done everything she has accomplished without the support of her family and the Keystone Heights and Melrose communities and their volunteers.

Patient/Family Service Award Winner - Marlys Pillatzke Rice Hospice – Willmar, MN 

Marlys Pillatzke pictured with (L to R) NCHPP Vice-Chair Rex Allen, Torrey DeVitto, and NHPCO Board Chair Mark Murray

Marlys Pillatzke has been an active Rice Hospice volunteer since the spring of 1993.  Since then she has volunteered with eighty-eight patients and bereaved, volunteered 7,793 hours, and driven 72,263 miles through western Minnesota.  But it is not all about the numbers; Marlys has shared her heart and soul and love of people through active listening, offering respite for caregivers, taking patient and family members for rides through the country, giving hand massages, playing hundreds of card games, dancing (one of her nursing home patients said, “Marlys, let’s dance – I don’t have cancer in my legs”), and almost always Marlys brings farm fresh eggs or home-made baked goods, maybe even cabbage or squash from her garden, because she knows how much this will mean.

In addition to direct patient care and bereavement support, Marlys provides volunteer leadership and office support to two Rice Hospice satellite offices.  She assigns patient volunteers, sits in on IDT meetings, attends volunteer education meetings, and offers individual and group TLC to the local Rice Hospice volunteers. She lives and breathes the hospice philosophy of care with dignity at the end of life.  Marlys is immensely valued as a team member and highly regarded by both Rice Hospice staff and volunteers!

Teen Volunteer Award – Bansai Savla Suncoast Hospice - Clearwater, FL

 Bansi Savla with Torrey DeVitto

As a Suncoast Hospice Teen Volunteer, Bansi brings joy to patients and families by volunteering within special programs including Cheer Team, Party Pals, Thoughtful Gestures, and Lifetime Legacies. In just under two years, Bansi has dedicated over 425 hours of service and growing. This January Bansi was chosen as the Teen Volunteer of the Year for Suncoast Hospice. In reading the seven nomination letters received on her behalf, it is apparent how much of an impact she has made on not only the patients – but also the staff and volunteers she works alongside. In letters from social workers, medical records staff, Volunteer Coordinators, and fellow volunteers, they describe her as “respectful”, “humble”, “extremely professional”, “thoughtful”, “compassionate”, and “excellent role model”, among many other powerful descriptions. This past year she served as the junior class representative for her high school’s teen volunteer council, and currently serves as Vice President for the 2011-2012 school year.  She was an easy selection by peers on the teen council because of her dedication and passion for volunteering.

Bansi never imagined how much she would grow and learn from this experience. She credits her volunteer work for “saving her” – she feels this opportunity gave her purpose and meaning.  She openly shares how much she has changed over the past eighteen months: she has built lifelong friendships and learned important skills in communication, professionalism, and responsibility. Her volunteer work has also helped her build new goals including the desire to work in the medical field. Recently, a project at Suncoast Hospice asked volunteers to take a picture of themselves holding a sign with a word that best describes hospice. Bansi submitted her photo holding a sign with the word “friendship.” She has made many friends at Suncoast Hospice, but most importantly she has been a friend to those we serve, our patients and families.

Distinguished Researcher Award – Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN City of Hope National Medical Center – Duarte, CA

 Betty Ferrell with NHPCO President & CEO Don Schumacher

Betty Ferrell has been in oncology nursing for 34 years and has focused her clinical expertise and research in pain management, quality of life, and palliative care.  Dr. Ferrell is a Professor and Research Scientist at the City of Hope Medical Center in Los Angeles.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and she has over 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals and texts.  She is Principal Investigator of a Program Project funded by the National Cancer Institute on “Palliative Care for Quality of Life and Symptom Concerns in Lung Cancer” and Principal Investigator of the “End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC)” project.   She directs several other funded projects related to palliative care in cancer centers and QOL issues.  Dr. Ferrell is a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute and was Chairperson of the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care.  She served on the National Quality Forum Committee for Preferred Practices in palliative care.  She is also the chairperson of the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative.  She has authored eight books  - Cancer Pain Management (1995), a text on Suffering (1995), Pain in the Elderly (1996), Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing published by Oxford University Press (3rd edition published in  2010).  She is co-author of the text, The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing published  in 2008 by Oxford University Press and Making Health Care Whole: Integrating Spirituality into Patient Care (Templeton Press, 2010).  Dr. Ferrell completed a Masters degree in Theology, Ethics and Culture from Claremont Graduate University in 2007.

We Honor Veterans Partner Awards

Partnerships are only as strong as the commitment of the organizations involved.  The We Honor Veterans partners program strives to elevate community awareness of Veterans and increase their access to hospice and palliative care.  Participation in WHV creates and supports long-lasting, sustainable relationships between community hospices and VA facilities. 

WHV Partner Awards were established to recognize the exemplary work of organizations that demonstrate leadership and significantly contribute to the development of quality care for Veterans.  The inaugural WHV Partner Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the categories of Partnerships, Innovation and Sustainability.

Award for Partnerships:  Sutter VNA, Hospice Santa Rosa, California

NHPCO’s Don Schumacher presents the Partnership Award to Cheryl Roby of Sutter VNA, Hospice Santa Rosa

Sutter VNA, Hospice Santa Rosa has demonstrated the ability to establish solid business relationships to promote the goals of We Honor Veterans, through collaboration on projects, events, and other activities with community and VA partners.  Collaborations have made a positive impact in the community.

To establish and build relationships, the staff has worked diligently with a number of VA and other healthcare and country agencies, including:  VA Outpatient Clinic and several Medical Centers, The County Vet Connect, The Vets Continuum of Care Committee, Hospitals & Skilled Nursing Facilities, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the County Section On Aging and others.

In explaining the organization’s philosophy about partnerships, they wrote, “Outreach to veterans in our community cannot be sustained without the development of strong partnerships with other like-minded organizations in our community, all striving to improve the quality of life for our veterans and their families in all stage of their lives.”

Award for Innovation:  Ambercare Hospice of Albuquerque, New Mexico

 Patsy Black of Ambercare Hospice receives the Innovation Award from Don Schumacher and WHV Program Director Emil Zuberbueler

Ambercare Hospice successfully created highly engaged staff and volunteers, unique organizational education programs and innovative community outreach activities to ensure Veterans receive care and services based on their preferences. Ambercare Hospice has nine sites serving several surrounding communities and are reaching out to Veterans throughout their service area.  

Personnel have volunteered to facilitate the training of staff, community training and meetings, as well as organize the pinnings of our veterans.  Veterans have been recruited as volunteers to visit our veteran patients, developing a true brotherhood relationship.  They were an active participant in the National PTSD Awareness rally, providing literature and listing of resources and support.  A veteran outreach/educational day was created for veterans.

Collaboration is also an important component of their work. Local agencies have agreed to collaborate in providing information regarding benefits, funeral costs/discounts, discounts to veterans and other services available to veterans.  Relationships have been developed with Veterans for Peace, Women Veterans of their state, a Veterans Residential Care Home, VA representatives, and numerous nursing homes that have a large veteran census.

Award for Sustainability:  Hope HealthCare Services of Ft. Myers, Florida

 Samira Beckwith of Hope HealthCare Services with Don Schumacher and Emil Zuberbuler

Hope Healthcare Services has the structures and function in place to maintain and increase efforts and commitment to serving Veterans, through planning, policies, and fundraising.  Significant, measureable integration of Veteran-centric education, activities, care and services have been developed and integrated into all aspects of the organization. 

This hospice began honoring veterans in 2007 with a Veteran-centric care program called “Veterans Access to Life Opportunities & Resources”, also known as VALOR.  To ensure Veterans receive quality care, services and recognition, Hope Healthcare’s initial intake software has 22 Veteran-specific questions to provide staff a complete picture of the patient. Twenty four Veterans are trained to serve as volunteers to Veteran patients and all volunteers receive a 45 minute presentation on caring for hospice veterans.

There is active collaboration with four VA Medical Centers.  The program also has established relationships with the Red Cross Military Affairs Department, the Veterans Foundation, the Military Officers Association of America, the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Good Will, the County Homeless Coalition and others. The Veterans program coordinator attends quarterly meetings at a VA Medical Center, teaches at another VA, and is in regular contact with the local Vet Clinic.  All activities take into account the importance of sustaining a long-term commitment to serving Veterans. Because of these extraordinary efforts, this hospice was one of the first to reach Level Four status.