How long have you worked for Vitas?
I’ve had the honour of working for the past 21 years at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care.
What drew you/led you to work in hospice and palliative care?
I have always felt an inner calling to work with hospice patients and their families and help add quality of life during the end of life, which is one of the most important moments of life. On a personal level, I also knew that this work would enable me to do what I love best: to be a part of something meaningful.
It has been wonderful to witness how supportive VITAS is of programmes caring for children. Can you tell me more about VITAS’ work with children and the services you provide?
In addition to the clinical care we offer for patients, we also provide extensive bereavement support to help children and teens through the grieving process. We provide several publications, support groups and events, grief camps, seminars and much more. Many of our programmes partner with children’s bereavement centres in their local communities.
How did the VITAS partnership with Sunflower House Children’s Hospice in Bloemfontein come about?
As part of our mutual mission of working for a greater good, we worked closely with the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa (now known as FHSSA) to establish a partnership with Sunflower House Children’s Hospice in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Currently, through our work with FHSSA, 20 of our 51 programmes nationwide have similar active partnerships with African hospice and palliative care organisations. Our programmes provide their respective FHSSA counterparts with financial aid, medical and educational supplies, books, resources and technical assistance. In fact, VITAS has been a strong catalyst in supporting the growth of FHSSA since its inception in 1999, and together we have made significant strides in helping ensure access to high-quality care for patients and families at the end of life.
Do you believe this partnership has been an effective one? If so, can you describe the benefits of this partnership for VITAS?VITAS’ partnership with the Sunflower House Children’s Hospice in Bloemfontein, South Africa, which started about 12 years ago, has been very beneficial. VITAS’ provides them quarterly financial donations as well as medical supplies, diapers, clothes and toys, among various other necessities.
Would you recommend similar partnerships to other hospices?
As an FHSSA Ambassador, I strongly recommend similar partnerships to other hospices.
Could you tell me something about the work you do in Childhood Bereavement?
VITAS does significant work in childhood bereavement. We have partnerships with several children’s bereavement centres across the country, such as the Children’s Bereavement Center in Miami-Dade County. Our employees volunteer to lead free weekly peer-support groups for children of all ages, and concurrent support groups for parents/caregivers. The groups take place throughout the school year at several public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Additionally, many VITAS programmes offer children’s grief summer camps as well as grief programmes expressed through art and music.
Learn more about VITAS Hospice Care at: http://www.vitas.com/
Learn more about FHSSA and their partnership programmes at: http://www.fhssa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1