Catawba Regional Hospice Achieves Highest Level in National Veterans Program

Catawba Regional Hospice has completed the work necessary to be designated a Level Four partner in the We Honor Veterans (WHV) program.

The national WHV initiative, launched in September 2010, was jointly implemented by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Its goal is to focus more attention on the needs of military veterans and to support hospices in meeting those needs.

Catawba Regional Hospice signed on as a "recruit" in 2010 and has performed specific activities en route to attaining Level Four status, including developing and strengthening partnerships with VA offices and organizations, increasing access to hospice care for all eligible veterans in a 10-county service area, and training staff and volunteers to provide high-quality care to veterans.

Catawba Regional Hospice's We Honor Veterans team displays Level 4 certification: (L-R) Debbie Ball, Director of Clinical Services; Kelly Tate, VP of Community Outreach; Caron Tucker, VP of Clinical Outreach; Abby Young, Business Services Specialist; and Scott Lofland, Operations Project Manager.

Catawba Regional Hospice's We Honor Veterans team displays Level 4 certification: (L-R) Debbie Ball, Director of Clinical Services; Kelly Tate, VP of Community Outreach; Caron Tucker, VP of Clinical Outreach; Abby Young, Business Services Specialist; and Scott Lofland, Operations Project Manager.

In the US, one out of four Americans who dies is a veteran. The WHV program acknowledges their contributions and remains attentive to their needs as service men and women. For example, CRH honors veteran patients with pinning ceremonies and encourages them to be involved in a Vet-to-Vet program, which pairs a veteran volunteer with the patient. Hospice social workers also help patients and families gain access to veteran-specific benefits, and many times, VA offices work closely with hospice and the patient to process benefits more quickly after the diagnosis of advanced illness.

According to Caron Tucker, CRH VP of Clinical Outreach, "We're proud to have developed close ties with local VA clinics and hospitals, and our staff is constantly communicating with the VA to obtain approval for hospice care. We're excited to be able to streamline these processes so that veterans can get the timely support and services they need."

Also involved in the committee are Kelly Tate, VP of Community Outreach, who developed and implemented volunteer orientation to include caring for veterans; Abby Young, Business Services Specialist, who addresses insurance needs; and Debbie Ball, Director of Clinical Services, who eagerly represents CRH in the Soldiers' Reunion Parade in Newton each August.

Scott Lofland, Operations Project Manager and an active military reservist, is honored to participate in vet-to-vet pinning ceremonies. He states, "I am truly blessed to be part of a wonderful organization that cares about the veterans in this community and the sacrifices they made for our freedoms."

In addition to a dedicated program for veterans, Catawba Regional Hospice honors service members by placing flowers at local restaurants on Veterans Day and wearing pins that showcase personal completion of veterans' training.

From January 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, Catawba Regional Hospice served 335 veterans in the WHV program. In addition, 184 community volunteers have gained instruction about the program.

Catawba Regional Hospice is one of four North Carolina hospices to have achieved Level Four partnership in the WHV program.