Hospice reorganizes and adds staff
Hospice of Martha's Vineyard has announced a reorganization and the addition of new staff. A Hospice statement released Monday stated, "As we continue to meet the unique needs of community members facing advanced illness and loss, the building of this new hospice team maintains our commitment to quality care, which is our top priority."
Terre Young has been named administrator, after serving as office manager for the past four years. Ms. Young has an extensive background in community relations and management and will oversee the daily operations of the organization, according to the statement, which also announced that Linda Swanson has been appointed project coordinator. Ms. Swanson recently moved to the Vineyard full-time after retiring as director of human resources at a Holyoke firm. Sue Ellen Piccus, administrative assistant and a familiar presence in the Hospice office for the past five years, will work with Ms. Swanson on Hospice administrative and fundraising projects.
Juleann VanBelle, RN and Cynthia Barletta, RN have been part of the Hospice clinical team for more than a decade. Ms. VanBelle is now patient care coordinator. Ms. Barletta will work as a staff nurse, in addition to continuing her on-call duties. Both are certified in hospice and palliative care. Joining them as staff nurse is Ann Ledden, RN. Ms. Ledden has lived on the Vineyard for 19 years and comes with 29 years of diverse nursing experience, most recently with Nashoba Valley Medical Center as a certified oncology nurse. Trudy Carter, LICSW, joins the clinical team as a social worker and bereavement counselor. She recently relocated to her home in Edgartown, after retiring from a 28-year position as director of psychological services for students at Bennington College. Stuart Kendall, M.D. continues to serve as Hospice medical director.
The Hospice statement included the following description of the organization: "Our dedicated corps of over 25 volunteers support the needs of our patients and families. They provide transportation, prepare meals, play cards, and visit hospice patients. They often continue contact with patient's families during the period of bereavement. Hospice of Martha's Vineyard is unique. Unlike other hospices, it provides all services free of charge and is unencumbered by the restrictions of Medicare and other insurance regulations. This independence allows our Hospice team to support people in whatever treatment options they choose, either curative or palliative. Hospice can help people long before the end of life — it is not an end of life agency, but a source of hope, comfort and compassion in the face of advanced illness."
The press statement also included the story of one of many Vineyarders Hospice has served, as an illustration of the unusual nature of the services Hospice of Martha's Vineyard offers:
"Almeda was an 82-year-old female with advanced lung disease. As an Island-born Vineyarder, she was known to many for her independent spirit and her occasionally brusque, no-nonsense nature. She lived for years contentedly alone in her small house on Lambert's Cove Road for most of her adult life. There she was close to Tashmoo Farm and her horses, the loves of her life. She was a devoted nurse at Martha's Vineyard Hospital for her entire career.
"As Almeda became less able to manage her daily needs, one of our volunteers, Marie Doebler, took on an active role in her life. After Almeda was hospitalized, Marie was able to gently persuade her to accept Hospice, as a means to getting home. Ann Ledden was her primary nurse, and the hospice team worked to get all the pieces pulled together. She had no family members living on-Island. Plumber Joe Guerin donated his time to make necessary minor repairs at her home, a live-in caregiver was hired, and the hospital bed set up.
"Almeda was home for only about 10 days. The Vineyard community pulled together to make it happen. She was seen frequently by all of the Hospice nurses and VNA nurse Laura Murphy. Four additional volunteers came on board - Gail Derrick, Joanie Ames, Janet Willoughby, and Jacque Renear. Our medical director Dr. Kendall made a home visit. It was a complicated situation at times, but most importantly, Almeda died at home. After discussion with her nephew and her vet, Almeda's frail, elderly cat Sugar was euthanized and buried with her, thanks to Dr. Jasny. She was not active in a church community, but the Rev. Roger Spinney knew her and officiated her burial. Cynthia Barletta wrote her obituary and made sure people knew to come to the service.
"Most off-Island hospices and nursing agencies require that a patient have a family member or significant other identified as the person responsible for all of these details. Lacking that, someone in Almeda's situation would be placed in a nursing home for end-of-life care. It is a testament to our hospice and our community that we are able & willing to do things differently.
Hospice headquarters are at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, in a trailer near the emergency room. The phone number is 508-693-0189.