Hospice Volunteers Honored at NHPCO’s National Conference in New Orleans

Categories: People & Places.

Photo: (L to R) Laurence Rybak, Jim “J.P.” Morgan, Nikki Ellis accepting for Blake Weissman, and Scott Eschbach.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recognized four outstanding hospice volunteers at the organization’s 2018 Interdisciplinary Conference being held this week at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards recognize hospice volunteers who best reflect the universal concept of volunteerism in its truest sense—serving as an inspiration to others. The honorees have made significant contributions to hospice programs in the areas of care delivery, organizational support, and teamwork.

This year’s recipients of the Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Award and the area for which they were honored are:

Specialized Service Award:
C. Scott Eschbach
Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, Santa Barbara, California.

Scott began his hospice volunteer work in Dutchess County, New York in the early 1990s following the experience of being personally supported by hospice during the death of both his parents.  Scott now volunteers at Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara where he currently schedules three seven-hour shifts per week at their in-patient facility. Scott is a trained Reiki therapist and offers this practice to his patients. He is also active in the ‘No One Dies Alone’ program and remains on call to provide vigil for patients who are alone and imminently dying.

Patient and Family Service Award:
Laurence P. Rybak
VITAS Healthcare Corporation, Lombard, Illinios.
Larry has provided more than 20,000 hours of volunteer service to VITAS Healthcare in Northwest Chicago since 2004. His service has included a wide variety of activities including driving a patient through her neighborhood one last time, playing Yahtzee with a dying patient or standing vigil at the bedside for family members who cannot be present.

Organizational Support Award:
Jim (J.P.) Morgan
Joliet Area Community Hospice, Joliet, Illinois.
J.P. Morgan began his volunteering with Joliet Area Community Hospice 10 years ago, shortly after retiring from ExxonMobil. In addition to his volunteer work with patients, J.P. has taken on the role of “official” agency photographer for the numerous events the organization holds each year. He is also volunteering at least five hours a week to perform maintenance to JACH’s 39,000 square foot building and 15-acre property. J.P. has volunteered at least 200 hours every year since he began with JACH, totaling 2,433 hours.

Young Leader Award:
Blake Weissman
Infinity Hospice Care, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Blake became interested in hospice care in his junior year of high school and began volunteering at Infinity Hospice Care. He started out as an administrative volunteer and eventually moved to the in-patient unit. While there, Blake delivered meals to patients, cleaned rooms, and sat with patients and listened to their stories. He also developed a business plan for the organization on how to enhance the Teen Program – a program that encourages teens and young adults to volunteer for hospice.

The U.S. hospice movement was founded by volunteers and continues to play an important and valuable role in hospice care and operations. Hospice is unique in that it is the only provider with Medicare Conditions of Participation requiring volunteers to provide at least 5% of total patient care hours.

“On behalf of NHPCO and the membership we serve, I want to thank Scott, Larry, J.P., and Blake for their service to the hospice mission and congratulate them on receiving this meaningful award,” says NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach.

“One of the highlights of my job is meeting volunteers working on behalf of hospice and palliative care programs across the nation,” Banach continues. “These dedicated individuals give generously of their time, talent, and passion to improve the lives of patients and families within their community and we cannot thank them enough.”

The volunteer awards were created and administered by NHPCO’s National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals, a section of the organization’s membership that promotes the contributions and skills of the different professional disciplines that make up the hospice interdisciplinary team.

Learn more about the ways hospice benefits patients and families at www.MyHospiceCampaign.org.

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