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Volunteer, Researcher, We Honor Veterans Awards

For Immediate Release: October 20, 2011

Awards Recognizing Hospice Volunteers, Distinguished Researcher and Programs Serving Veterans Presented at National Conference

Awards Sponsored by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the National Hospice Foundation

(Alexandria, Va) – National awards honoring excellence in various aspects of hospice delivery were presented at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 13th Clinical Team Conference hosted in San Diego. Outstanding hospice volunteers, a distinguished researcher, and partner awards recognizing programs excelling at serving Veterans at the end of life were all presented at events that drew more than 1,500 people to the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, October 5 through 8, 2011.

The Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards recognize hospice volunteers who best reflect the universal concept of volunteerism in its truest sense—serving as an inspiration to others. 

“All hospice workers—paid and unpaid—generously give their time, talents and passion to improve the lives of patients and families we serve. Each and every hospice volunteer deserves recognition and the highest of accolades but the volunteers we are celebrating truly demonstrate an outstanding level of commitment and passion,” said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of NHPCO and NHF.

Three awards were presented by actor, hospice volunteer and advocate Torrey DeVitto (seen on the ABC Family Channel television series “Pretty Little Liars”) and Rex Allen, vice-chair of NHPCO’s National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals. 

Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards recipients were:

  • For Patient/Family Service:  Marlys Pillatzke with Rice Hospice in Willmar, Minnesota.
  • For Organizational Support:  Bettye Zowarka with Haven Hospice in Gainesville, Florida. 
  • For Teen Service:  Bansi Savla with Suncoast Hospice in Clearwater, Florida.

DeVitto shared during the Friday morning awards presentation, “In my work as a hospice volunteer, I’ve seen firsthand that there is both an essential need and an often unrecognizable beauty to the practice of hospice. There is nothing I am more proud or passionate about than being a part of this work. My hope is to pass this passion on to others and I look forward to working with NHPCO to do this.” Learn more about her efforts at www.caringinfo.org/torrey.

The NHPCO Distinguished Researcher Award honors individuals who have made substantial and sustained contributions to the field of hospice and palliative care through research investigation. The 2011 award was presented on Saturday to Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN.

Ferrell is a Professor and Research Scientist at the City of Hope Medical Center in Los Angeles and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She 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.

NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans is an innovative program being done in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help hospice and palliative care providers better serve Veterans at life’s end.

As part of the week’s events, the We Honor Veterans team hosted a day-long summit on Wednesday where attendees explored best practices, program outcomes and reinforced the shared commitment to honor and serve Veterans.

The inaugural We Honor Veterans Partner Awards recognized the following providers:

  • For Partnership Development:  Sutter VNA, Hospice Santa Rosa, California.
  • For Program Innovation:  Ambercare Hospice, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • For Sustainability Efforts:  Hope Healthcare Services,  Fort Myers, Florida.

“More than 970 hospice programs have joined NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans initiative and the lessons learned and shared by these award recipients will help us all better care for our nation’s Veterans,” said Schumacher.

Learn more about these distinguished award recipients in the Awards & Contests section of NHPCO’s Web site, nhpco.org/awards2011


Bansi Savla with Torrey DeVitto

Jon Radulovic
NHPCO, Vice President of Communications
Ph: 703-837-3139

NHPCO is the oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. NHPCO’s mission is to lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life.