Monday, December 23, 2013

We Honor Veterans Pinning Ceremony

Saturday December 21, 2013 at Dinwiddie Health and Rehab located in Petersburg, VA, United States Army Lieutenants training at Fort Lee came to visit and honor residents at the facility who were military veterans themselves.  As a We Honor Veteran partner, Medi Home Health & Hospice seeks to recognize and honor veterans in our community.  This turned out to be wonderful event where current soldiers and past military service men had a chance to connect, reflect, and enjoy quality bonding time.  Here is a look at some of the moments that afternoon. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Caring for our Country's Military Veterans

"The We Honor Veterans program is an initiative by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs that invites hospices, state hospice organizations, Hospice-Veteran partnerships and VA facilities to join a pioneering effort that focuses on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment."

Find out more in the About Us section of the We Honor Veterans website.

As a Level II partner of the We Honor Veterans program, both Medi Home Health & Hospice's offices in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia seek to continually find ways to honor veterans in our community and partner with other healthcare organizations to educate staff on how to handle veteran specific issues as it relates to their end of life care.

 Our healthcare system is facing an uphill battle in terms of caring for veterans.  Yesterday CNN published an investigative report on hospital delays at times resulting in deaths for some war veterans.  I encourage you to check out the article below and help spread the word on the difficulties facing our healthcare system and our country's military veterans.

Hospital Delays are Killing America's War Veterans

If you or someone you know is an active duty military member or you are interested in helping out military veterans in our community, please contact Medi Home Health & Hospice in Petersburg, Virginia or Richmond, Virginia to find out how to get started.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Memory Bears Lift Hospice Families' Spirits

Terminally ill patients in our communities of Richmond and Petersburg, VA deserve the best, most compassionate care in their final days.  Patient families also deserve attention and care when going through the the lose of a loved one.  Medi Home Health & Hospice continues that attention and care for the family after their loved one has passed away.  Our volunteer led memory bear program provides a special way for families to process their loss and reflect on more positive times experienced with someone they loved.  Sewers take clothing of patients provided by family members and create unique stuffed bears.  These memory bears can be positive, lasting mementos in the lives of surviving friends and family.  Take a look below at some of the delightful craft work by one of Medi's talented volunteers.

Two bears for two sisters made from their mother's green and pink robes.
 Nine little bears for nine grandchildren to remember their grandmother.

One paisley printed bear with nine little bears.

 If you enjoy sewing or begin visiting patients as a volunteer for Medi Hospice, please contact our office for more information as to how you can get started making a special difference in others' lives today!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"I Am Holding Half An Acre"

Heading home can be a revitalizing, humbling experience for those who do not often visit the place in which they grew up.  For me, home is in Virginia.  I look out my window and am thankful for the bright colors of the leaves changing.  Hues of yellows, oranges, greens, browns signify the coming of the Fall season in my home state.  The air outside has a nip of cold that you can feel coming as sure as winter, but the temperature outside is a comfortable 65.  Home to me at this time of year reminds me of the Harvest as many celebrate holidays like Halloween or All Saints' Day.

For others going home or being home is not such a pleasant experience.  Memories of pain, loss or suffering can burden some minds who find it difficult to be at home.

In honor of the idea of returning home now or in the coming months with the holidays, I share with you a song that Medi Hospice Chaplain Erin shared with the hospice staff in efforts to provide a moment of reflection and peace.  The song is entitled "Half Acre" by Hem.  It also happens to be one of my favorites.  Enjoy.

Half Acre
  I am holding half an acre
Torn from the map of Michigan
And folded in this scrap of paper
Is a land I grew in

Think of every town you've lived in
Every room, you lay your head
And what is it that you remember?

Do you carry every sadness with you
Every hour your heart was broken
Every night the fear and darkness
Lay down with you

A man is walking on the highway
A woman stares out at the sea
And light is only now just breaking

So we carry every sadness with us
Every hour our heart were broken
Every night the fear and darkness
Lay down with us

But I am holding half an acre
Torn from the map of Michigan
I am carrying this scrap of paper

That can crack the darkest sky wide open
Every burden taken from me
Every night my heart unfolding
My home

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We Honor Veterans - Pinning Ceremony

Petersburg, VA 

To publicly acknowledge the military service and sacrifices made by the Veterans of Golden Living – Battlefield Park, Medi Home Health & Hospice in Petersburg, VA along with Active Duty members of Fort Lee held a pinning ceremony at the skilled nursing facility.  Medi Home Health and Hospice is a Level II partner of the We Honor Veterans program and these pinning ceremonies are a small portion of what is being done to give back to the Veteran community.  SSgt Sam Gibbs, SSG Keith Fay, and SSgt Mark Wilson presented the Veterans with certificates and American flag lapel pins as a small token of appreciation for what these Veterans have done for our country.
Take a look at some more pictures from the ceremony below.  The staff of Medi Home Health & Hospice hopes this is the first of many opportunities to recognize and honor Veterans in our community through pinning ceremonies and other events.

If you are interested in getting involved with honoring military veterans in central and southern Virginia, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Travis Kennedy via e-mail at or call the office at 804-732-0108.  We are always looking for volunteers to join our team.  Whether you are a veteran, you come from a military family, or are interested in simply visiting our hospice patients, but have no military background, we have place for you to make a difference in the lives of those with terminal illness.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


In hospice every other week we hold meetings where the entire team comes together to discuss all patient care plans.  These are called IDG, or Interdisciplinary Group, meetings.  During this time the nurses, aides, chaplains, clinical manager, medical director, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers are provided the opportunity to discuss any developments of patients physical, spiritual, psychological, or emotional needs over the previous two weeks.

Before we begin our IDGs at Medi, one of our chaplains usually takes time to reflect on a local or national event which may have impacted us and offer a prayer, song, or reading.  These spiritual moments can help center the team and can give everyone a renewed or unique perspective to take with them through the coming days.

Last week Chaplain Erin was kind enough to share some thoughts about "breaking down" which I would like to share with all of you.  Often times in life we feel special moments passing us by.  There are sights, sounds, smells, conversations, and much more we experience on a daily basis.  We may wish that we could stop time, break down, and hold on to these experiences longer.

It could be a gold, summer sunset.
A long talk with your parent.
The homemade taste of a dinner freshly cooked.
A hug from someone you love.

I was reminded of a scene from one of my favorite shows "Mad Men".  In this scene ad man Donald Draper is pitching his idea for advertising a new product Kodak developed to some of the execs of Kodak.  Draper wants these execs to buy into his advertising approach.  The background information on this scene is less important than the feelings it evokes.  Don's words as he flips through pictures of his family can be both haunting and touching, regardless if we know his story or not, because we can relate to his ideas.  Captured in the soft music, smokey room, and Don's voice is a yearning for the past.  The wish to stop time.  To go back and experience things we once had.

These moments can be beautiful, meaningful, and insightful.  And we may wish to hang on to them a little longer than time allows us.  On the other side of these moments is a pain in knowing that they do not last forever.  As if we are passengers on a train chugging down a track, our lives keep moving forward despite the passing of these experiences into memory.  All we are able to do is lock away those memories in our minds and reflect while making the best of the present.  Pictures, songs, thoughts and other things serve as nostalgic tools to bring us back to days gone by.

At the end of her spiritual reflection, Erin shared with us a song.  I share the same song with you here...  And if you are in need of a "breakdown", a little time to stop and take in the moment around you, I hope it comes your way soon.   

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

We Honor Veterans

Medi Hospice in Petersburg Reaches Level One Recognition

As a proud partner of the national We Honor Veterans program, we continue our efforts to promote awareness of veteran end of life issues in our south side Virginia community.  For those of you in our faithful readership who missed the big announcement, here is the link to the post back in January.

This program looks to create a health care system ready and able to accommodate the unique needs military vets and their families may have at the end of life.  Hospices across the country strive to accomplish these goals of accommodating and appropriately respecting our veterans with this special campaign.  Through continued staff education on topics such as post traumatic stress disorder , community partnerships between organizations providing care to veterans, and events recognizing the sacrifice made by our military personnel, we hope to ensure that veterans are able to enjoy the highest quality of care and life possible while dealing with terminal illness.

The program consists of four achievement levels required of hospices to gain recognition and continue to increase the reach of the We Honor Veterans message, all the while providing practical, useful information to health care providers regarding veterans and recognizing veterans for their sacrifices.  Each level asks hospices to complete specific tasks as a systematic, grassroots way of spreading the We Honor Veterans campaign.   Progress through the four levels is tracked and approved by We Honor Veterans, with level four being the highest, most difficult achievement.

To reach Level One, for instance, a hospice must provide 3 educational in-services on the We Honor Veterans program to its own staff.  The hospice must also reach out to community partners to advertise the program and establish a contact person at a nearby Veteran Affairs office.  In addition to those requirements, a hospice must create and implement a Military History Checklist into the admission process for patients.  The checklist provides the hospice an opportunity to gather details of the patient's military service, such as the branch, time period, and locations they may have served.  Implementing this individualized information into the plan of care allows hospices to understand the patient's military past and see that they are receiving the benefits available to them in their time of need. 

Medi's Partner Level 1 certificate

Medi Home Health & Hospice of Petersburg, VA is proud to announce that we have achieved the Level One milestone as set forth by the We Honor Veterans program!  We are already working hard towards Level Two and would love your help along the way!  If you or someone you know would like to get involved as a volunteer of our hospice, please contact Travis Kennedy, the Volunteer Coordinator at 804-732-0108 or via e-mail at  We would be especially grateful for any military veterans who are willing to take the time to visit veteran patients for at least one hour per week, serving as a friend and companion.  A volunteer may be one of the last good things to happen in a patient's life, so please consider donating a little of your time to others.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Study Finds Volunteering Increases Likelihood of Finding A Job

A new and ground breaking study conducted by the Corporation for National & Community Service shows that volunteering can increase an individuals chances of finding a job by as much as 27% more than those who do not volunteer.  Check on the video below along with the link here to the article, "Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment".

The benefits of volunteering have long been trumpeted as a way to entice the populace to sacrifice their time for a person or cause.  Having a positive impact on your community and building your experience through volunteering to increase your chances of landing that dream job are two great reasons to volunteer.  However, until now there has not been significant measurable data to back up the idea that volunteering can be a pathway to a paid position in the working world.

Volunteering for hospice helps prepare those who want to work in the medical field become more equipped and knowledgeable in their desired area of work.  Unquestionably, the compassionate and sometimes difficult work of a hospice volunteer helps individuals prepare for all kinds of workplace obstacles.  Aspiring medical social workers can help learn to navigate fragile family situations and relationships, perhaps even improving the way families get along in certain fortunate circumstances.  Those who wish to become nurses or case managers will interact with medical staff during their volunteer experience, seeing the ins and outs of what a day on the job for a traveling hospice nurse might be like.  Individuals who wish to work in an office or familiarize themselves with medical records can gain valuable experience as an office hospice volunteer.

One of the beautiful things about hospice is that the volunteer is not restricted to any particular type of service area.  There are volunteer positions for musicians, landscapers, gardeners, beauticians, cosmetologists, singers, clergy, seamstresses, pet therapists, military veterans and more. You could use your talents to benefit others in need of a helping hand all the while learning new and challenging ideas about life and death.  You could take care of a terminally ill patients lawn or help them paint their nails while watching Oprah or enjoy the big game on TV on Sunday.  

The possibilities are many and varied when volunteering with hospice.  And do not forget you would be boosting your chances at landing a job!  All the more reason to begin today in the compassionate work as a hospice volunteer!

If you are interested in volunteering for Medi Hospice to help our patients at the end of their lives, please contact me via e-mail at    

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

National Volunteer Month

We thank all of our volunteers for the dedication and service they show to our patients and their families.  Everyday, all throughout the country, hospice volunteers assist families enduring some of the most difficult of circumstances.  The support and compassion each volunteer displays in helping our patients enjoy the last days of life and patient family members enjoy time to rest and recuperate is truly something special.  Please take the opportunity to thank hospice volunteers and all volunteers for their selfless acts each day.  These individuals make a difference in our world. 
Thank you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

National Professional Social Work Month

Celebrate National Social Worker Month

Starting in 1965, National Social Worker Month has had a long history of recognizing and honoring the hard working professionals who selflessly dedicate themselves to improving the lives of others in our communities.  Please take the time to offer a heart felt thank you to these individuals who work tirelessly to help those in need.  To learn more about social work, please visit the National Association of Social Workers website.

Volunteering for hospice is a great way for those interested in a career in social work to explore their options, get real experience visiting patients, and help others live fully at the end of their life.  Medical social workers are an essential part of our hospice staff.  Becoming a hospice volunteer provides an opportunity to learn and network with our social work staff  For more information on hospice volunteering in Virginia, please contact Travis Kennedy, Volunteer Coordinator, at 804-282-4301.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hospice & Black History Month

Hospice, Death, and Dying in the African American Community

"Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. It’s not so much the act of dying itself, but the things that are surrounding death: injustice, poverty, mistreatment and evil...” There’s a sense that we won’t be stopped by those things—our ‘somehow theology.’ Some how, some way, we will get through this.—Rev. Frank Jackson
Faith Presbyterian Church

 A Brief Overview

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website, an estimated 1.65 million people received hospice services in 2011.  Of those patients only 8.5% were African American.  With such a small percentage of the African American population receiving hospice services at the end of life, it begs the question, "Why are African American families not receiving the same health care as other races in the United States?"

Some point towards attitudes regarding death and dying in the African American community as a reason why there is a limited number of families opting for hospice care.  An enlightening article titled African American Perspectives on Pain and Palliative Care from Duke Divinity School's Institute on Care at the End of Life offers insightful research into the subject.  The author relates (through a quote by Reverend Frank Jackson of Faith Presbyterian Church as seen above) that the African American experience in the United States is characterized by struggle and triumph.  It is suggested that this attitude of resistance and triumph carries over to present day thoughts about death and dying in African American culture.  This line of thought may lean towards a preference for curative treatments over the comfort care provided by hospices nationwide.

Kaitlyn Henderson of Passages Hospice documents in her blog post on February 21, 2013 that there is a lack of access to quality health care in the African American community.  Inequality has long been a problem in the United States.  Present day statistics regarding mortality rates of African Americans support the idea that inequality still exists in our culture.  A clear, strong disparity in health of African Americans as compared to other U.S. populations can be seen here in numbers from the Center for Disease Control.

Another key hurdle in providing fair and equal health care to all populations is awareness.  All populations show a lack of knowledge about hospice services in polls.  Few of those who understand the concept of hospice know that hospice appropriate patients are completed covered under Medicare if they choose a palliative approach to treating illness.  Hospice may not be the right choice for everyone based off of personal preferences, but it still the duty of all who are familiar with hospice to spread the positive word.  Helping others understand that hospice is not giving up or accepting defeat in the face of adversity is essential for the future of hospice and helping others understand their health care options. 

For further reading, take a look at this Washington Post Article written by Rob Stein in 2007 titled At the End of Life, a Racial Divide.

bout Medi Hospice

It is the goal of Medi Hospice to help ALL of our patients diagnosed with life limiting illness live as fully as possible until the end.  Ensuring patients experiencing the highest quality of life without pain is a priority of our staff.  Through the compassionate care of nurses and aides, volunteers, social workers assessing psychological needs, and chaplains who look to spiritually nurture our patients and their families, our hospice team seeks to implement a system of total and complete care that eases the transition from life to death.  The mantra of hospice can often be articulated as "death with dignity" and "living until the end."  None of us can avoid death.  Death is most surely a part of life as is birth.  Understanding that, we can all do our best to enjoy the time and life we have together.  If you are interested in learning more about hospice or becoming a hospice volunteer, please contact Travis Kennedy,Volunteer Coordinator, at 804-282-4301.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Honoring Our Veterans

Medi Home Health and Hospice Recognized as a We Honor Veterans Partner
By Kristy Ball, RN, BSN - Hospice Clinical Manager


 "May each of us here have the grit, the grace, the humility, the love
to heal our war-ravaged soldiers
and our broken nation.
May we be the link that connects the circle so they
feel connected to humanity once again.
May we not miss the opportunity to help those veterans' souls
from Iraq, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, Nazi, Germany
and various other parts of the world where they served
so they can have peace
at last.
May we help them know 
that the circle goes on,
joining them to you and me.
Our people, our nation, our God
would be ever so grateful."
                                                                                                                 -Deborah Grassman

Petersburg, VA — It may surprise many people to learn that 25 percent of those who die every year in the U.S. are Veterans. To help provide care and support that reflect the important contributions made by these men and women, Medi Home Health and Hospice, Petersburg, VA, has become a national partner of We Honor Veterans, a pioneering campaign developed by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As a We Honor Veterans Partner, Medi Home Health and Hospice will implement ongoing Veteran-centered education for their staff and volunteers to help improve the care they provide to the Veterans they proudly serve.  The nation is seeing many of the Veterans who served in World War II and Korean pass away—and the number of deaths of Vietnam Veterans is beginning to rise.
The We Honor Veterans campaign provides tiered recognition to organizations that demonstrate a systematic commitment to improving care for Veterans. “Partners” can assess their ability to serve Veterans and, using resources provided as part of the campaign, integrate best practices for providing end-of-life care to Veterans into their organization. By recognizing the unique needs of our nation’s Veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness, Medi Home Health and Hospice is better able to accompany and guide Veterans and their families toward a more peaceful ending. And in cases where there might be some specific needs related to the Veteran’s  military service, combat experience or other traumatic events, Medi Home Health and Hospice will find tools to help support those they are caring for.
“All hospices are serving Veterans but often aren’t aware of that person’s service in the armed forces,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “Through We Honor Veterans we are taking a giant step forward in helping hospice and palliative care providers understand and serve Veterans at the end of life and work more effectively with VA medical facilities in their communities.”
“VA shares a common goal with our nation’s hospices, and that is to provide the best possible care specifically tailored for Veterans, meeting their goals of care in their preferred setting.  As we focus on working together and unite our services and skills, We Honor Veterans will channel our combined strengths directly to Veterans - wherever they are receiving care.”
The resources of We Honor Veterans focus on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment, coupled with Veteran-centric education of health care staff caring for Veterans. To learn more about We Honor Veterans or to support this important work via a secure, online donation, please visit
“America’s Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and we believe it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. Now it is time that we step up, acquire the necessary skills and fulfill our mission to serve these men and women with the dignity they deserve,” added Schumacher.