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Enhancing End of Life Care for Veterans

Tomah Health Hospice Touch has stepped up its commitment to care for veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness.

According to Hospice Touch director Mary Rezin, the organization recently achieved the second level of the highly regarded ‘We Honor Veterans’ program. “As our nation marks Veterans Day, Hospice Touch deepens our commitment to increase veterans’ access to the compassionate, high quality care available from hospice and palliative care providers,” Rezin said. “One of the ways we’re making this happen is through our active involvement with ‘We Honor Veterans’, an innovative program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization that was created in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure Veterans have access to quality end-of-life care.”

Hospice Touch started working on the project about four years ago.

Rezin said within the WHV program, there are four levels of distinction that organizations can earn based on its involvement with Veteran education and its interaction with the veterans and their family members.

She said one of the most touching activities conducted by her staff are the ceremonial pinning events. “It’s a formal ceremony where veterans are recognized for their military service and thanked for their military service.”

Rezin said the success of the program is a working partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to empower hospice and other health care providers across America to meet the unique needs of seriously ill Veterans and their families. “We work very closely with the Veterans Administration hospital here in Tomah,” said Rezin. “They have an excellent hospice and palliative care unit and we have been partners for years in trying to meet the needs of veterans.”

Despite the national scope of the program, Rezin said the local one-on-one attention helps to ensure the very best care is being provided to those who have served our country. “It’s part of our mission to offer choices to everyone in our service area, including the choices they have at the end of life. I think sometimes veterans are not aware of what choices they have and what’s out in the community and people will give them the very best care.”

Rezin said work is already underway to attain the third level of the four-part program which includes a volunteer program where veterans interact one-on-one with other veterans. “If we have enough volunteers, we could offer every veteran a veteran volunteer when they come on to our program,” explained Rezin.

She said veterans who are interested in helping with the program should contact Hospice Touch at 374-0250. “It’s a very rewarding thing to do and very helpful for the person that’s volunteering and for the veteran.”

Rezin said they hope to reach the third level soon and the fourth level by next spring.

Tomah Health