As a smooth jazz piano played under a bright and gusty Monday evening at Farm Neck Golf Club, Hospice & Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard hosted its 41st annual Summer Soiree. The soiree is the hospice’s biggest fundraising event of the year, featuring various types of auctions alongside hors d’oeuvres and drinks for the guests.
“We raised close to $260,000, and yes, we’ve surpassed every year prior to this one,” Sheri Lamoreaux, director of development and communications for Hospice, told The Times in an email.
According to executive director Cathy Wozniak, a major factor for this year’s soiree was raising funds to have Hospice become Medicare-certified. “We’ve been working to become Medicare-certified for two years now,” she said. Currently, Hospice is waiting for the Medicare surveyors to come to inspect it, which happens unannounced and can happen on “any day.”
Medicare is health insurance offered by the federal government for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Wozniak said becoming Medicare-certified will allow Hospice to “service anybody on the Island,” particularly older adults.
“I think the important thing the public needs to know is that it doesn’t cover everything, and it was a huge investment of our organization to even get to this point,” Wozniak said. Hospice also provides palliative care and community bereavement services. “These types of fundraisers — we have several every year, this just being our largest one — ties into our mission and what we want to do to provide the highest quality of services and enhanced services to the public.”
Wozniak said becoming Medicare-certified will allow for increased care, such as providing oxygen, therapies, and acquiring new equipment. Additionally, Medicare covers “so many more things” once a healthcare provider is certified.
“I’m not going to say we didn’t care for some of them,” Wozniak said. “Many of the people 65 and older had to go off-Island, or they couldn’t get the service they needed on the Island.”
Wozniak said some people could cover certain care through other forms of insurance, but the hospice wanted to make sure older people could get the help they needed on the Island.
The process of becoming Medicare-certified has been challenging, Wozniak told The Times. In the past, this was a barrier to pursuing certification. However, Wozniak said the percentage of older adults on the Island has grown and will increase, which the hospice recognized as a fact that could not be ignored.
“It’s taken a huge investment in infrastructure, staffing, consultants to meet the 400-plus regulations,” Wozniak said. “It’s been a two-year endeavor.”
In the future, Wozniak said there is a possibility for Hospice to pursue Medicaid certification as well, a government health insurance program managed by the state. However, Medicare certification is required for this.
Fundraisers like the summer soiree are “crucial to our livelihood,” not just for Medicare certification, according to Wozniak. The hospice is “completely dependent on the generosity of donors to run this organization,” according to Lamoreaux.
“It’s wonderful that a lot of people that are here are passionate about our mission, and want to continue to support us year after year,” Wozniak said.