Hospice Care

An Empty Seat at the Table During Father’s Day – Houston Hospice’s Guide to Grief Support on Special Occasions

Father’s Day is a time for families to celebrate traditions and make memories, but for those mourning the loss of their patriarch or loved one, Father’s Day can be difficult.

Volunteer Sylvia Valverde June 2022

Volunteer Sylvia Valverde pictured in Houston Hospice’s Garden in the Texas Medical Center.

For Sylvia Valverde, a retired Houston Independent School District administrator and Houston Hospice volunteer (pictured right), honoring her father’s legacy has helped her through her grief journey.
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Houston Hospice’s Butterfly Luncheon raises funds with the help of Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson, RN

Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko - Wilson shares her journey as a hospice nurse with community leaders at the Houston Hospice 21st Butterfly Luncheon May 6, 2022 at The Junior League of Houston.

Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko – Wilson, RN shares her journey as a hospice nurse with community leaders at the Houston Hospice 21st Butterfly Luncheon May 6, 2022 at The Junior League of Houston.

Hospice nurse shares laughter and tears on International Nurses Day during Houston Hospice’s Butterfly Luncheon

 

The Houston Hospice’s Butterfly Luncheon welcomed more than 200 guests, Friday, May 6, 2022, to The Junior League of Houston. The 21st annual event raised funds for Houston Hospice and its pediatric Butterfly Program. Featured keynote speaker was Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson, RN who holds the distinction of being the first registered nurse to win the competition. Following her year of service, Rafko-Wilson became a hospice nurse and started the Hospice of Monroe in her hometown of Monroe, Michigan.

Throughout her career, Rafko-Wilson has continued to support nursing professions, hospice programs, grief support services and critical health issues. She is currently the executive director of Gabby’s Grief Center in Monroe.

Members from The Garden Club of Houston joined the 21st Butterfly Luncheon benefiting Houston Hospice and its pediatric program for hospice patients, Friday, May 6, 2022 at The Junior League of Houston.

Members from The Garden Club of Houston joined the 21st Butterfly Luncheon benefiting Houston Hospice and its pediatric program for hospice patients, Friday, May 6, 2022 at The Junior League of Houston.

Emcee Lisa Malosky, a journalist and owner of Lisa Malosky Productions, introduced Rafko -Wilson, who gave a moving address, with the audience alternately laughing and crying. They listened to fascinating anecdotes about her own patients and patients that she met along the way in her activities as Miss America. She emphasized how her dad instilled in her a passion for helping others and that being Miss America was never her dream, but a step in her journey as a nurse in starting a hospice care service in her hometown.

The event was chaired by Janet McKenzie, while Sarita Armstrong Hixon, Houston Hospice advisor, was honorary co-chair, Friday, May 6, 2022 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Chair Joyce Salhoot, President & CEO Rana McClelland, Vice Chair Al Gatmaitain and Nancy Gatmaitain at the Houston Hospice 21st Butterfly Program May 6, 2022 at The Junior League of Houston

Houston Hospice Chair Joyce Salhoot, President & CEO Rana McClelland, Vice Chair Al Gatmaitain and Nancy Gatmaitain at the Houston Hospice 21st Butterfly Program May 6, 2022 at The Junior League of Houston.

As one of the core compassionate care services offered by Houston Hospice, The Butterfly Program is dedicated to the needs of children with life-limiting conditions and their families. Individualized care, education, advocacy, resources, and a dedicated hospice team are provided on a 24/7 basis. Additionally, the Butterfly Team consists of a pediatric physician, registered nurses, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors and volunteers.

For more information about visit HoustonHospice.org or call 713-Hospice.

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Houston Hospice WOWs with New Technology

Digital Health Transformation Rolls into Hospice Care

By Suzy Martin, Volunteer Blogger

According to the recent article More Than Just Tech: How Houston’s Smart Hospitals Are Embracing Tech Innovations by Emily Reiser, “Texas Medical Center (TMC) member institutions are leading the nation in innovation and setting the standard for what smart hospitals can look like and how they will transform the healthcare landscape in the coming years.” As a TMC member institution, Houston Hospice is leading the way in Digital Health Transformation in the hospice care industry.

The 42-year-old nonprofit hospice organization implemented several new technology solutions that help doctors and nurses communicate more effectively with patients and families during fourth quarter 2021. In addition, admitting patients into hospice care is now streamlined and hospice field teams have greater access to online, on-demand, multi-lingual interpreters, as well as accurate procedural instruction available 24/7. Funding for this digital transformation effort was made possible by grants, donations, and the COVID-19 Economic Relief Fund.

Workstations on Wheels (WOWs)rolled into Houston Hospice to the excitement of nurses across the organization.

“I can’t wait to chart immediately so that I can continue to help others,” said Thomas Moore, RN, Director of Specialty Teams, and nine-year veteran of Houston Hospice.

Thomas Moore Director of Specialty Teams Houston Hospice

Thomas Moore Director of Specialty Teams Houston Hospice

These eight mobile workstations help nurses document care and update electronic medical records EMRs in real time. Houston Hospice is the only hospice using WOWs in its Inpatient Unit and within its 13-county service area in Southeast Texas.

Prior to this update, nurses recorded notes on desktop computers at each of three nurses’ stations. Now that WOWs are being introduced, patient information will stay up to date which streamlines workflows. In addition to new technology, Houston Hospice uses hardware that is well known throughout the world.

The nurses at Houston Hospice also use iPads to chart notes and share confidential information securely within the seven-member hospice team called the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT). Faster charting means a better work/life balance for these IDT members. In addition, 60+ iPads (with more arriving in the future) and keyboards have been deployed for these health professionals.

Amy Morales, LVN, Houston Hospice

Amy Morales, LVN, Houston Hospice with WOW.

Houston Hospice physicians also use secure electronic devices to assess the needs of patients and communicate updates instantly. “The [Houston Hospice] physicians use mobile laptops and iPhones, which work in much the same way as the WOWs to provide up-to-date information for the physicians during visits, to document the visit, email clinicians’ concerns about the patient, and to provide patients and families with information that they may be looking for from clinical information. I can email the nurses questions about the family’s concerns during rounds, and I often get a response before I leave the patient’s room,” said Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD, MBA, Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Wound Care Certified, Hospice Medical Director Certified and Team Physician, Houston Hospice.

When collaborating among team members, Houston Hospice relies on a healthcare platform that is secure and performs in real time, making high-quality care more accessible and efficient. The software increases accessibility to documentation and records and streamlines the admission process. Telehealth (seeing patients via video or audio) is also available to keep patients safe from others who may have viruses or other illnesses while caring for their unique needs.

WOWs, iPhones, iPads, and laptops are important components of improved patient management at Houston Hospice. To make these technologies work well with one another, the best software solutions must be utilized so that hospice patients and families will have the greatest care possible. To achieve this, the organization uses state-of-the-art cloud technology to obtain and share hospice information instantaneously, including everything from patient intake to documentation to scheduling, all on a secure network.

Houston Hospice nurses may find the need to research procedures specific to the needs of their patients. To accomplish these kinds of immediate goals, nurses have access to a software program that contains 1,800 procedures in various specialty settings. In addition, the program maintains compliance with current national guidelines and empowers nurses with the knowledge and confidence to make informed clinical decisions.

As Houston Hospice is a member institution of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center that hosts 10 million patient encounters annually, translation services are in great demand. The nonprofit has hired one of the best translation companies in the world to help communicate with patients from all over the world. The interpreter service provides 14,000 professionals, who are on demand interpreters and available via audio and video in 30 seconds or less.

Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD, MBA, Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice, Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Wound Care Certified, Hospice Medical Director Certified and Team Physician, Houston Hospice

Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD, MBA, Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Wound Care Certified, Hospice Medical Director Certified and Team Physician, Houston Hospice.

“The visually-enhanced translation services have been an excellent resource to help connect our patients, their families and our hospice team members,” Trinh said. “Having the mobile translation system with visual contact makes communicating with patients and families easier and more personable. The translator may be better able to address the patients who have difficulty expressing their needs, such as those with slurred speech, when the translator can see the movements of the patient’s mouth and body language.

“For example, one of my patients spoke Cantonese, but I was unaware of which Chinese dialect when I made the request. I had requested the Mandarin translator, who recognized the patient’s dialect even though the patient was speaking with a muffled voice, and she was able to refer me directly to the Cantonese translator for the patient’s support. I think the translator’s ability to see the patient made a difference in realizing what was needed during the visit. The visually enhanced translation system has been a great asset to ensure our hospice team can address the patients’ and families’ needs at any time of day or night,” Trinh said.

As Houston Hospice continues to find new ways to help patients and their families, the use of advanced technology continues to play a key role. “Technology used by Houston Hospice is designed to improve communication between doctors, nurses and patients,” said Scott Watson, IT Manager, Houston Hospice. “This improved care coordination allows for the care of patients remotely and saves time for both the doctor and patient.”

When working to advance technology in the healthcare industry, speaking with colleagues about best practices adds value to the organization’s progress. “We are collaborating with a hospice in Tyler [Texas] to share best practices for healthcare technology implementation,” Watson said. “As we continue to share valuable insights with one another, we will improve hospice care for patients across Texas, the U.S. and even the world.”

As a subject matter expert in IT, Watson has made a prediction that technology in the hospice environment will only get faster and easier to use.

Houston Hospice WOWs with New Technology and its compassionate care is unmatched, reaching hundreds of patients daily. It continues to offer vital services for patients and families, using state-of-the-art practices and procedures. As the organization continues to reach new patients and families who could benefit from hospice care, it will continue to look for new ways to advance hospice care for patients of all socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs, regardless of their ability to pay.

For more information about Houston Hospice, visit https://www.houstonhospice.org/what-we-do/services/

 

 

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Houston Hospice Gardens of Light Offers Grief Support Throughout Holidays

Houston Hospice illuminates scenic garden with 150,000 brilliant lights in memory of loved ones

Houston Hospice Gardens of Light in support of Bereaved Families

Houston Hospice Gardens of Light in support of Bereaved Families.

A rapport between a beautifully lit, fall garden and string duet created a safe space for those grieving the loss of loved ones during the holiday season at Houston Hospice’s inaugural Gardens of Light remembrance event, Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

Families from all generations were in awe as they walked among 80-year-old trees adorned with 150,000 brilliant lights, sipped on warm Wassel, and enjoyed festive treats. Many onlookers reconnected with others, and there were also some who sat and reflected in quiet contemplation. “It is not a surprise that many attendees lost family members over two decades ago, yet still remember how much they appreciated the care and support provided by Houston Hospice,” said Crystal J. Williams, LMSW, Manager of Bereavement Services, Houston Hospice. “Family members shared tears, fond memories and endless appreciation for our staff’s compassion,” she continued.


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NPHI Welcomes Houston Hospice

The National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI), the national voice for not-for-profit hospice and palliative care providers, welcomes Houston Hospice as a new member.

Established in 1980, Houston Hospice is the largest non-profit hospice in Greater Houston. Their service area spans across 13 counties in Texas, including Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller, and Wharton.

“NPHI is thrilled to welcome Houston Hospice to our member organization,” said Tom Koutsoumpas, NPHI CEO. “As we grow as an organization, our shared mission to advocate for the highest-quality, community based, not-for-profit hospice, palliative, and advanced illness care, can only flourish that much more.”

Houston Hospice offer a variety of services including hospice care, grief support, Veteran-specific care, and community engagement. Specifically, routine home care, continuous crisis care, general inpatient care, and respite care are provided as needed by compassionate teams that are always accessible.

Rana McClelland, President & CEO, Houston Hospice

Rana McClelland, President & CEO, Houston Hospice.

“Houston Hospice is thrilled to join the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation to collaborate on programs centered around advocacy and education for patients, families and community members,” said Rana McClelland, MBA, President & CEO (pictured right). “As a hospice care provider for over 40 years and a member of the Texas Medical Center, Houston Hospice is focused on reaching more patients in need of quality hospice care, including Veterans and the diverse population that comprises our 13-county service area,” continued McClelland. “We look forward to exchanging ideas, contributing our expertise and building more advanced models of care for hospice patients and families, alongside leaders such as NPHI and other nonprofit hospice and palliative care organizations.”

NPHI looks forward to collaborating with Houston Hospice and continuing to advocate for high-quality, community-based, not-for-profit hospice, palliative, and advanced illness care to patients throughout the nation.

The National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI) is a collaborative of 75+ not-for-profit, community-integrated hospice and palliative care providers dedicated to ensuring patients and their families have access to care that reflects their individual goals, values and preferences. Representing providers from 31 states and the District of Columbia, NPHI and its members help design more innovative and effective models of care, advocate for comprehensive and community-integrated care customized to meet each person’s unique needs, and build collaboration between national thought leaders, decision-makers, and other healthcare stakeholders to improve hospice care. Learn more about NPHI at nphi.info.

Click here to read about Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year Jerri Trigg.

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Houston Hospice Achieved Level 5 of We Honor Veterans Program

To meet the needs of the growing Veteran population, Houston Hospice achieved Level 5 of the We Honor Veterans Program, focusing on education, advocacy, and mentorship, dedicated to the unique needs of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. In partnership with We Honor Veterans (WHV), a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), and in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has developed a specialized hospice care plan for the increasing number of Veterans who are nearing end-of-life.

Houston Hospice reaches Level 5 of the We Honor Veterans Program


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Houston Hospice Memorial Day Message

Houston Hospice honors the servicemen and women who lost their lives serving the United States of America on Memorial Day 2021

Memorial Day Message from Houston Hospice President & CEO Rana McClelland

 

Houston Hospice Honors Those Who Lost Their Lives During Memorial Day

 

On Memorial Day, we honor the military personnel who faithfully served the United States of America and gave their lives so that we have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We are forever grateful for their brave service to our country and will forever honor their memory. As we remember those who have passed, let us also honor Veterans in our community today.

In partnership with the We Honor Veterans program, we recognize the unique needs of Veterans and their families in hospice care. As a Level-4 Partner, we provide Veteran-centric education to staff and volunteers, work closely with Veterans Affairs, and continue to reach more and more Veterans in need. It is an honor and a privilege to serve those who have served us.

Life Matters at Houston Hospice and we are grateful for the servicemen and women around the world, Veterans who work for our organization and those who have passed through these historic walls. It is because of their dedication, courage, and sacrifice that we are here to enjoy the freedoms of today.

To honor the memory of those who served our country, a Husband-Wife Volunteer Team has placed 100 U.S. Flags along the grounds of our hospice care facility. We hope that this patriotic tribute inspires gratitude and peace for passersby in the Texas Medical Center and beyond.

As I reflect on what I am grateful for, our dedicated staff and volunteers come to mind. Their skills in hospice care are state-of-the-art and their commitment to our mission has helped us serve the community for over 40 years.

To all those who serve or have served our community and our nation, I wish you health and happiness as you enjoy time with family, friends, and coworkers, this Memorial Day.

Rana McClelland, President & CEO, Houston Hospice

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Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year 2021 – Jerri Trigg

Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year 2021 is Jerri Trigg

Jerri Trigg, Volunteer of the Year

Each year, our Volunteer Team thoughtfully selects the Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year from over 120 wonderful and generous people. This year’s special altruist was selected for going above and beyond general duties to help hospice patients, families, and staff during one of the most challenging year’s the world has seen. We are pleased to share that Jerri Trigg has been named 2021 Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year!

“Over her seven years of volunteer work at Houston Hospice, Jerri has donated her time and talent in so many valuable ways,” said Patty Valle, Volunteer Manager, Houston Hospice. “She has worked directly with patients and families, assisted in our Texas Medical Center business office and Northwest office, delivered Thanksgiving dinner to a family in need, decorated holiday wreaths that adorned our in-patient unit, delivered elusive cans of  Lysol and N95 masks to help keep us safe during the pandemic, and so much more! We are grateful to Jerri for her generosity, kindness, and dedication to Houston Hospice,” continued Patty.

Jerri’s path to Houston Hospice began when her parents were in hospice care one year apart from each other. In both cases, the family experienced compassion, caring, patient and informative guidance during their journey through the end-of-life process. These quality-of-life experiences had a positive impact on Jerri and encouraged her volunteer efforts.

“I have always volunteered and participated in fundraising events throughout the community,” recalled Jerri. “After my own experiences with hospice, I always said I would like to give back in some way. Then, a friend of mine shared information about an upcoming  Butterfly Luncheon.  I was surprised to find out that it  was hospice for children and that really touched me! I attended the luncheon, and as they say, the rest is history,” she proudly stated.

Houston Hospice Volunteers are an integral part of our multi-disciplinary team, are carefully vetted and thoroughly trained to focus on improving the quality of life of patients with a serious illness. Each team consists of seven members – a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, bereavement counselor, hospice aide and volunteer. This specialized group of people provide a unique care plan for each individual patient, and their family, throughout the hospice care experience and the bereavement process. It takes a great deal of courage and compassion to be a hospice volunteer.

“Volunteering at Houston Hospice has been a positive and rewarding experience,” said Jerri. “I have met so many wonderful people here. Our many volunteers are like a big, caring family and I am so honored to be a part of this organization,” she beamed.

Houston Hospice is grateful to Volunteer of the Year 2021 Jerri Trigg, and to all her fellow volunteers, for the time, talent, and compassion they have invested to ensure patients and families receive the best possible end-of-life care they truly deserve.

For more information about volunteering at Houston Hospice, visit www.houstonhospice.org/volunteers.

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Houston Hospice Family Honors Anniversary with Sweet Gratitude

Lyssy Family Delivers Mini Bundt Cakes to Houston Hospice Nurses Feb 2021

Pictured from left: Houston Hospice Family LeAnne and Ervin presented mini-bundt cakes to nurses and staff at Houston Hospice in honor of their loved one’s passing.

Sharing with others proves helpful during the bereavement process

 

On the anniversary of a patient’s death, Houston Hospice families honor their loved ones in a variety of ways. Our organization supports the healthy expression of love and remembrance during each person’s grief journey.

Recently, the Lyssy Family returned to Houston Hospice to express their heartfelt appreciation to the nurses and staff who cared for the matriarch of their family during her time in hospice care.

“This is the 6-month anniversary of our mother’s passing,” said LeAnne (pictured above and on behalf of her siblings). “Our family wanted to make this day special by expressing our gratitude to the compassionate nurses who showed us kindness and respect. Our mom was a nurse too and an inspiration,” she continued.

The clinical staff received dozens of mini-bundt cakes from the Pearland couple.

Houston Hospices Nurses and Staff Receive Mini-Bundt Cake from the Lyssy Family in honor of the passing of Karen Lyssy.

Houston Hospice clinical staff share their surprise, mini-bundt cakes from the Lyssy Family in honor of Karen Lyssy’s passing. Pictured from left are Serena Simms-Young, CNA; Angelina Perales, CNA; Chemane Hubbard, RN.

For more ways to donate to Houston Hospice, please visit www.houstonhospice.org/donate.

 

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Houston Hospice Names New Board Chair, Joyce Testa Salhoot

Houston Hospice Board Chair 2021 Joyce Salhoot.

Houston Hospice Board Chair Joyce Salhoot.

Meet our new Board Chair,

Joyce Testa Salhoot, MSW, MHA

 

Houston Hospice is pleased to welcome Joyce Testa Salhoot as our new Board Chair. Joyce began her service on the Board four years ago when asked by her long-time friend and former Board

Chair, Michele Sabino.  Having had many close friends who spent their final days in our care, she was familiar with the organization and its good work.  Joyce brings a great deal of expertise to the Board from her notable career. Now retired, she spent half of her career as a social worker for TIRR and the other half in hospital administration at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Originally from Niagara Falls, Joyce moved to Houston after completing her Masters of Social Work.

Goals for her Board tenure include: building a network that will support growth; ensuring the longevity of the nonprofit hospice model; and growing awareness of hospice care as a viable end-of-life care option among diverse communities. This last point is a driving passion for Joyce. “I am committed to leading efforts to foster and maintain an environment where Diversity and Inclusion are valued and achieved for the benefit of Houston Hospice staff, volunteers, patients and families.”

President & CEO Rana McClelland, MBA, echoes these thoughts: “I look forward to strategically integrating the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives developed under Joyce’s leadership into everyday operations. Our goal is to attract a diverse workforce and provide accessible services, delivered in a way that respects the needs of each individual and does not exclude anyone.”

For a complete list of the Houston Hospice Leadership Team and Board of Directors, click here.

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