“The End of Life is About Living, Not Dying”

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ON AUGUST 19, 2014 RICHARD H. JOHNSON, J.D., CFRE, GIFT PLANNING COUNSELOR FOR THE VNA & HOSPICE FOUNDATION OF THE TREASURE COAST held a lunch seminar at the Quail Valley River Club.

The seminar was about how a donor can make a gift to the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice Foundation utilizing a Charitable Gift Annuity to support the mission of the VNA of the Treasure Coast where the donor makes an irrevocable gift to the charity (usually cash or securities) in exchange for the VNA’s promise to pay life income to one or two life income beneficiaries.  At the death of the survivor income beneficiary, the remainder is vested 100% in the VNA.

This luncheon was not covered in the media and Mary Linn Hamilton President & CEO welcomed the opportunity to promote it; referring us to Steve Smith, VNA Director of Marketing and Communications.

Mr. Smith indicated that the point of this piece should not be on the annuity and associated tax deductions, tax brackets and rates of return (would you want to read about that?), but to “emphasize that hospice care is not about the end, but about living.”

James L. Salwitz, MD wrote in http://www.KevinMD.com on October 21, 2014 that: “Not too long ago I suggested hospice to a patient who had progressive cancer, although she likely had months to live. ‘I don’t think it is time,’ she replied, ‘hospice is for morphine.’

‘That is not how I see hospice,’ I replied, ‘I think hospice is about getting the best care and support, even if there is no real treatment for the disease. It is about living well, maybe better. Even hospice is not without hope.”

Mr. Smith pointed to the VNA website, where it indicates hospice “treats the person, not the disease.  It enables the patient to enjoy their family, friends and living in general. It is to getting loved ones to enjoy activities and to provide help with financial matters such as insurance paperwork.”

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The VNA hospice support team includes physicians, nurses, social workers, home health aides, therapists, counselors, the clergy and trained volunteers.  One of the main priorities of hospice care is pain management.

The VNA Hospice House is a “Home-like Haven” for the residents and their families.  It is an 11,000 sq. ft. building with 12 private bedrooms; each with their own bath, screened patio and sleeping accommodations for overnight visitors.  Each room overlook a 4.2 acre secluded garden surrounding the House.

It even features comfort therapies like massage, music, animals and aromatherapy.  It has a therapeutic spa room, children’s playroom, library, formal dining room, sleep over rooms for out-of-town guests and a master chef!

Mr. Smith said that the goal of the VNA is to have patients “utilize hospice services early in the course of their illness allowing more time to discuss goals ands create an optimal plan of care designed around patient and family issues.  We do not want people to wait to long until the end.  It is about living.”

All of us will one day face the question of when it is the right time for hospice.  On it’s web site it has an interesting post on its blog entitled “What do you want to do before you die?”

“Around the world, many people are asking themselves this same question because of the work of Candy Chang, a New Orleans-based artist. After losing a loved one and suffering from depression, Chang decided to create an interactive art project by painting the side of an abandoned house with chalkboard paint and stenciling the words “Before I die I want to _______” to allow her neighbors to anonymously reflect on their personal goals and aspirations.

Soon, this interactive project took flight, reaching global heights. Since the initial project, Before I Die walls have been constructed over 1,000 times in 70 countries and in over 35 languages. This global phenomenon not only pushes individuals to reflect on what is important to them in life, but it also paves the way for other conversations with loved ones such as what is important to you at end-of-life.”

The VNA of the Treasure Coast was recently selected one of Indian River County’s 2015 Best Places to Work by CareerSource Research Coast. The VNA’s educational programs, benefits, and associate wellness initiatives were cited as contributing factors in being selected for this honor for the sixth year

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