Interfaith Blessing of Hands for Texas Medical Center

Interfaith Blessing of Hands

Houston Hospice Cockrell Chapel
1905 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, Texas 77030
713-467-7423
Wednesday October 28, 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

A Tradition in Many Cultures

Blessing of Hands is a tradition among many cultures and religions as well as in many medical institutions. The Texas Medical Center’s Houston Hospice believes this voluntary, nondenominational act recognizes and unites health care employees, volunteers and caregivers who have chosen the shared journey of caring for patients, directly and non-directly. Blessing of Hands is a spiritual exercise and prayer to honor those who give of themselves each day. Affirming their work through this blessing is meant to strengthen and renew their efforts.

Services are for all Texas Medical Center staff, volunteers and caregivers and last about 15 minutes. For more information about Blessing of the Hands services, contact Chaplain Gordon Robertson at 713-677- 7220.

—Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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A Human Rights Treaty Finally Recognizes the Right to Palliative Care

First Instrument Of Its Kind To Explicitly Refer To Palliative Care

The resolution that older persons should enjoy all existing human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis, couldn’t be timelier. ElderlyHumanRightsFor years, international conventions have protected the rights of children, women, and people with disabilities—groups recognized as vulnerable to marginalization and human rights violations. Yet the rights of older persons, who are susceptible to the same violations, have been woefully neglected in the human rights framework. Finally, there’s a sign that this is beginning to change.

In late June, the Organization of American States released a resolution in which member countries adopted the Inter-American Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons. It was immediately signed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay, and completed in record time, with drafting efforts initiated in 2012 and final text approved in 2015.

The convention recognizes that older persons should enjoy all existing human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis, and is based on general principles including dignity, independence, proactivity, autonomy, and full and productive integration into society.

The resolution couldn’t be timelier. Advances in science, technology, and medicine have helped make the older population one of the most rapidly growing age groups in the world. Yet older persons are often denied access to health, social benefits, work, food, and housing. They bear a disproportionately large burden of chronic, life-limiting, and incurable illnesses, and they often experience severe, debilitating pain.

This is the first instrument of its kind to explicitly refer to palliative care. It requires countries to provide access to palliative care without discrimination, to prevent unnecessary suffering and futile procedures, and to appropriately manage problems related to the fear of death. It also mandates that countries establish procedures to enable older persons to indicate in advance their will and instructions with regard to health care interventions.

The Convention Defines Palliative Care As:71359394

the active, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary care and treatment of patients whose illness is not responding to curative treatment or who are suffering avoidable pain, in order to improve their quality of life until the last day of their lives. Central to palliative care is control of pain, of other symptoms, and of the social, psychological, and spiritual problems of the older person. It includes the patient, their environment, and their family. It affirms life and considers death a normal process, neither hastening nor delaying it.

The Resolution Is Not Without Its Flaws

30334509The resolution is not without its flaws, however. For instance, it does not address important legal aspects of palliative care, such as concerns related to inheritance laws and the future of the patient’s property, access to social benefits, patient confidentiality, and the care of children and grandchildren. These legal concerns are closely tied to emotional distress during end-of-life care, and addressing them is part of palliative care’s holistic approach.

The Inter-American Convention established a follow-up mechanism to monitor progress in implementing its provisions. Countries must submit periodic reports to a committee of experts, and people or NGOs may submit petitions concerning any violation of the convention’s provisions.

The convention will enter into force as soon as two signatory countries ratify it, which is expected to happen soon. Once it does, human rights advocates in Latin America will finally be able to rely on a legally binding instrument to demand accountability for the failure to respect older persons’ rights.

There’s More Work To Do

30359571But the effects of the convention could reverberate even further, helping to interpret the human rights of older people elsewhere in the world. For example, it comes at a critical moment to influence the African Regional Human Rights System, which is currently in the process of considering a draft Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. And it strengthens civil society’s long-standing call for a UN convention on older persons, which was repeatedly raised during this year’s sixth session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.

We hope that the Inter-American Convention can set an important precedent for the drafting of other human rights instruments that include the right to palliative care. From the right to decide about end-of-life care, to relief from unnecessary suffering, to the need for adequately trained health professionals, palliative care is a human right the world must come to recognize.

From: Open Society Foundations

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Hospice Nurses Receive Excellence in Nursing Award

Houston Hospice nurses Reagan Denmon and Karen Hoover received the Bronze Excellence in Nursing Award, and Paige Prokop received the Silver Excellence in Nursing award from the Good Samaritan Foundation at a luncheon ceremony on September 1, 2015 at Houston’s Royal Sonesta Hotel. The event was chaired by Craig Cordola, President of the Central/West Region for Memorial Hermann Health System.

ReaganDenmon-HighResColorReagan Denmon began her medical career as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist (NMTCB) and certified PET tech (Positron Emission Tomography). Her work with oncology patients created a desire to serve in palliative care. Reagan pursued a BSN at UT School of Nursing, finishing Summa Cum Laude and gained clinical experience at St. Luke’s in the Texas Medical Center as a renal telemetry nurse before joining Houston Hospice as an RN Case Manager in 2013. Since then she earned the Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse credential (CHPN) in 2015. Reagan was nominated by Clinical Services Patient Care Manager, Jeff Boynton, who praised her saying, “Reagan is a true hospice case manager, and she is able to be proactive in her patients’ care, anticipating their needs and the needs of their families. She always gets high praise from her patients and families and has a can-do attitude.”

KarenHoover-HighResColorKaren Hoover was nominated by Houston Hospice Education Coordinator, Hope Cook, who wrote about Karen’s leadership and commitment to excellence saying, “Karen has been a strong leader on her team. She has promoted a culture of cooperation and concern among the nurses. She works to provide excellent care and this is contagious. She has served as a mentor for many staff members and nursing students. Her positive attitude and hard work to ensure all patients get the care that they need is exceptional.”

 

Paige Prokop-HighResColorPaige Prokop was nominated by her Clinical Services Patient Care Manager, Dianne Gilbert, who wrote, “Paige is a wonderful nurse and human being. She is always thinking outside the box and looking for ways to help others – patients, families and colleagues. Paige is constantly thanked by patients’ families for her kindness and caring. She helps her colleagues by sharing her ideas and thoughts on the challenges we all face as hospice nurses. She is a mentor for our new nurses, and their patients and families benefit from this guidance. Paige is always trying to learn more and encourages others to learn. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. Houston Hospice is very lucky to have Paige Prokop as one of their outstanding nurses.”

Read more: Hospice Nurses to receive Excellence in Nursing Award – Your Houston News: Living

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Share These Helpful Resources For Grief & Loss

Helpful Resources for Grief & Loss
grief and loss

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Care of Yourself Includes Accessing Support

Grief may be experienced in response to physical losses, such as death, or in response to symbolic or social losses such as divorce or loss of a job.  The grief experience can be affected by one’s history and support system. Taking care of yourself and accessing the support of friends and family can help you cope with your grief experience.

There is no right way to grieve. It is an individual process and a natural part of life. Life won’t be the same after a loss, but experiencing your grief will allow you to adjust to life after loss.

Grief lasts as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after your loss. It can be for months, or even years. Grief has no timetable; thoughts, emotions, behaviors and other responses may come and go.

Helpful Resources

Supporting Someone Who is Grieving [PDF]
There is no Wrong or Right Way to Grieve After a Loss [PDF]

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Helping an Aging Family Member Plan for the Future

MomAndDaughter

Take Control While You Can

The importance of advance planning for aging adults (especially those suffering from chronic illnesses) cannot be overstated. Without the right legal and financial documentation, caregivers and their loved ones could be faced with a host of problems in an emergency. Doctors may refuse to discuss important medical information with a caregiver, a dying elder may not get the end-of-life care they desire, and control over an incapacitated loved one’s bank accounts and property could be given to a complete stranger.

6 Must-Have Legal Documents for Family Caregivers

You can help a loved one plan for their current and future medical and financial needs by working with them to prepare six essential legal documents, described in further detail below:

Important documents for managing medical care

Important documents for managing finances

An elder law attorney can assist with the preparation of these documents; as well as valuable guidance for taking into account your loved one’s Familyindividual situation and preferences when planning for the future.

Don’t Wait for Disaster to Strike

Getting the necessary documents in order before a medical or financial disaster strikes can make an extremely difficult situation just a bit easier to navigate. Knowing that you’re carrying out your loved one’s wishes, even though they may not be able to voice them, can ease the crushing feelings of guilt and doubt than caregivers often experience in these situations.

*An additional note about POA: There can be confusion with regards to the difference between “durable” and “nondurable” powers of attorney. A durable POA is one that endures a person’s incapacitation, meaning that, until a person either passes away, or is able to regain control of their own affair, the POA remains in effect. This is as opposed to a nondurable POA, which becomes null upon a pre-defined contingency—such as a particular date, or in the event of a person’s incapacitation. For additional information on POA, see: Things You Can and Can’t Do With POA.

Provided courtesy of AgingCare.com, the go-to destination for family caregivers. AgingCare.com provides resources and guidance through financial and legal concerns, such as guardianship of elderly parents. This article is one of a series of articles included in the eBook, Family Caring for Family. Download your free copy at www.AgingCare.com/ebook.

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Watch – Hospice Conversations and Policies are Changing

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Terri and John Havens – Spirit Award Recipients

The Havens to Have Channeled Success Into Support

On behalf of its Board of Directors, and Spirit Award Dinner Chairmen, Kay and Paul Mansfield, Houston Hospice is very pleased to announce that Terri and John are the recipients of the 2015

Terri and John Havens

Terri and John Havens

Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award. Terri and John Havens have channeled their success as business owners into support for the community. They each have a passion for growing businesses and are fully dedicated to all of the charities they support.

As the leader of Seismic Exchange, Inc. (SEI), John has grown the business to be the largest 2D and one of the largest 3D seismic data and marketing firms in North America. John has led the charge to vertically integrate the business with the additions of a seismic reproduction company and seismic data processing company. John has also acquired other businesses, including Vista Valley Country Club in California, and is a minority owner of the Houston Astros and Houston Oaks Golf Club.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Terri and John are the owners of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa and Vista Valley Country Club. Nestled on 200 private acres in a secluded valley in Vista, California, 40 miles north of San Diego, Cal-a-Vie is an exclusive retreat known to many celebrities, and boasts 32 guest villas and a 5:1 staff-to-guest ratio. Terri’s advertising and marketing expertise, along with her natural “Southern Hospitality” and commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle, has helped cultivate Cal-a-Vie’s award-winning wellness and fitness program, which has been voted the number-one “Destination Health Spa in North America” by Travel + Leisure, amongst others.

Making Houston Better

In addition to encouraging health and wellness for their spa guests, the Havens put their heart into causes that are dear to them, as evidenced by their many philanthropic endeavors. Terri and John support numerous organizations that ensure access to healthcare, education, and culture. Terri serves as the Secretary of I Am Waters and is a board member of the Astros Foundation, the Children’s Museum of Houston, and Bayou Bends Gardens and is actively involved with Star of Hope. Terri acts as the Texas Children’s Hospital Ambassador Chairman and is an active supporter of Texas Children’s Hospital Heart Center. She has chaired commendable events such as the Hermann Park Gala and Heroes for Handbags.

Terri and John have each received honors for their philanthropic efforts. John has been inducted into the LSU Hall of Distinction and Terri has been voted a top mom by the Easter Seals’ Great Houston’s “Hats off to Mothers” event. Together, they were voted one of the most outstanding couples in Houston by Inspire Women, were the 2012 Gala honorees and recipients of the Krist Samaritan Spirit Award, and were the 2014 Houston Children’s Charity Gala honorees, among others.

Terri and John have found a perfect balance of success, both professionally and personally, coupled with an active household of three children, Prentiss, 17, Davis, 13, and Mallette, 12. Admitted Francophiles, John and Terri always find time for family, friends, travel, collecting antiques, and restoring historic homes.

The Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award Dinner

Terri and John were recognized at the 17th Annual Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award Dinner Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 6 p.m. at River Oaks Country Club at 1600 River Oaks Blvd., Houston, Texas 77019. Table sponsorships for the dinner help fund medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support provided by non-profit Houston Hospice.

—Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communications Specialist

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The Ugly Car

On My Way Home

After a particularly harrowing Friday in the Volunteer Department, my coworker Ruth decided we should go home early as a reward for making it through the day. I was ready to bolt when Ruth told me she had a little side trip for me to make “on my way home”. The wife of a patient needed a ride, and according to Ruth’s brain, they lived close to me. I gladly accepted the assignment with gleeful thoughts of getting a jump-start on Houston’s Friday afternoon traffic mayhem.

Eager to leave early, I immediately went to the patient care center to meet the patient and his wife. I was a bit shocked when I noticed Mrs. G.’s aqua hair — not be confused with the socially acceptable “blue” tint of my grandmother’s social set. That should have been my first clue about her unique personality. But no, I trusted Ruth and forged ahead not thinking twice that a lady with aqua hair might be rather ‘interesting’. Her frail husband thanked me repeatedly. They were such a cute, sweet little elderly couple, and taking her home was a small price to pay for getting to leave early, or so I thought.

She Gawked at My Car

I slowly pulled my almond gold PT Cruiser with the chrome package out of the garage and stopped in front of Mrs. G. who was waiting in her assigned spot. She gawked at my car, then at me and cruiser_pehesitated before she finally got in. She looked from side to side as she inspected every inch of my car. Then, she shook her head and said, “My friend and I wondered who bought these ugly little cars.”

There are two camps when it comes to PT Cruisers, love or hate, no in between. Mrs. G. was definitely on the hate side. She told me about every two minutes how ugly she thought my car was. She could not understand why Chrysler made such an ugly car. Her husband had a Chrysler and it ran good. Chrysler made nice, dependable, cars but she had no idea what they were thinking when they made these ugly ones. Deriding my car was only interrupted with detailed driving instructions. “Stay in this lane, don’t pass that bus, slow down, turn here, watch that!”

Nice People Drive Ugly Cars

When we finally entered her neighborhood, which was nowhere close to mine, driving instructions and ugly car comments were complimented by a running commentary on the stores where she shopped, where they got their gas, where they bought auto parts for their good looking Chrysler and what streets had potholes. I inched along, dodging every aforementioned, pre-announced pothole. About half way down her lengthy street, Mrs. G. pointed to her house. It was the one on the left where three men stood on the porch eyeing my car. “They’ll never expect me to be in this thing,” she giggled. All three men rose as we approached. Through squinting eyes one of them recognized Mrs. G. and came to open the door for her. Before getting out, Mrs. G. took one last wide-eyed gander around her and announced, “I’ll have to tell my friend that nice people drive these ugly cars!”

As I left Mrs. G. and her three friends, I called Ruth. She did not answer. She had left early, without any side trips.

—Patsy Piner

 

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Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year

WP_20150514_11_58_32_Pro_peIt Wouldn’t Be Monday Without Debbie

Eleven-year volunteer, Debbie Hoelscher, has been named volunteer of the year by Houston Hospice. As a nonprofit organization, Houston Hospice relies upon over 300 volunteers to help set the tone for the compassionate care patients and families receive. Since 2003, Debbie Hoelscher has volunteered in both the inpatient care center and in patients’ homes. Volunteer Coordinator, Patsy Piner said, “It wouldn’t be Monday at hospice without Debbie here tending the flowers, tending the patients, and bringing serenity and calmness into our lives.”

Volunteering With Hospice Isn’t For Everyone

About her work in hospice Debbie states, “The families truly appreciate the smallest gift of your time and doing this type of work gives me a great sense of gratefulness.” Debbie also trains incoming volunteers and many have noted her ability to engage and be at ease with patients and their families. Ms. Piner added, “We often say that volunteering with hospice is not for everyone, but Debbie has a gift for this type of work and we are glad she spends her Mondays with us.”

Volunteers are an integral part of nonprofit Houston Hospice’s team; serving patients and families with caring expertise in the Houston Hospice care center, in patients’ homes and in assisted living facilities. To learn more about volunteering at Houston Hospice, call 713-467 7423 or visit www.houstonhospice.org.

-Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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Service of Remembrance Brings Closure for Hospice Worker

Every six months Gloria Garza coordinates a service of remembrance. Gloria’s been putting together these biannual observances for 15 years; since she came to work for Houston Hospice in 2000. CandlesShe invites families, makes sure the ceremony runs smoothly, and organizes a reception with food and punch. At the service on April 30, 2015 at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Wharton, 135 people were remembered. “This event means a lot to our families. They get the opportunity to see the staff that helped them with their loved ones again,” said Gloria. “And, we get to see how the families are doing. After the service, we walk over to the fellowship hall and have refreshments and the families talk to the staff and exchange stories, hugs, tears, and appreciation for the care and for the service they just attended.”

The services of remembrance began when hospice employees realized that both they and the community needed a way to honor their patients and to have closure. After fifteen years of planning some thirty services, the April 30 observance was different for Gloria. As usual prayers were recited, music was played, and, as their loved ones’ names were called, families were invited to the altar to light a candle. However this time, the name of Gloria’s mother, Lena Quintanilla, was among those called.

Lena, the family matriarch, suffered a massive stroke on January 8, 2015. Four days later her doctor told the family there was nothing more they could do. Gloria responded saying, “Call Houston Hospice now.” As a hospice employee, she knew she had a right to select the hospice of her choice, and because she was designated as her mother’s medical power of attorney agent, she knew it was what Lena wanted. “We already talked about what she wanted and what I should do,” said Gloria. “It made it so much easier. I had a hard decision to make. Even if it was not what I wanted, I had to honor what she wanted. She didn’t want to linger. She didn’t want to be a burden.” Gloria feels strongly about Medical Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. After she helps her siblings complete theirs, she plans to speak to community groups and help others, so that their wishes can be carried out should they become incapacitated.

Lena Quintanilla was a doting and energetic mother of five, and she had touched countless lives working as a hospice volunteer since June 2004. “She was a loving and caring mommy to me and to

Gloria Garza and Lena Quintanilla

Gloria Garza and Lena Quintanilla

everyone that knew her. She could cook Spanish rice and hot sauce like no one else. Just ask our El Campo office,” said Gloria. “My father is grappling with how to go on. She did everything for him. They were married for 72 years. She was only 14 and he was 17 when they got married. She did everything around the house. She even paid the bills. All he did was work and he was a good provider with only a second grade education.”

“About 40 people attended and the service was beautiful and peaceful,” said Gloria. “I’m normally busy helping. I sat back by the pianist like I always do, but this time my family was there. It [the service] helped us to take it in and gave us some closure that this really did happen. It means our loved ones are not forgotten and we have to go on.” Gloria stilled a slight quaver that threatened to expose her sorrow and continued, “My oldest sister, who lives in Clear Lake came and she was so touched that we do this every six months. She told me she wants to come to the next one. I asked why since she wouldn’t know anyone and she said she would light another candle for mama.”

Houston Hospice is Houston’s only nonprofit hospice, providing care for patients and families throughout ten counties. To learn more about the local bereavement services offered by Houston Hospice, visit www.houstonhospice.org, or call 979-578-0314 or 800-420-6193.

-Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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