MARQUETTE - Lake Superior Hospice and Upper Peninsula Home Health and Hospice conducted the annual Marquette County Bells for Hospice Thursday at the Marquette Commons to kick off National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
"Hospice is about living, not about death," said Lindsay Hemmila, director of community services for Upper Peninsula Home Health and Hospice. "At hospice we want to make sure that the patients spend their last few days or more in comfort with people who love them. This could be anything from medical treatment, a person to listen to, or someone to go pick up groceries.
"This event is nationwide. Having the event on Nov. 1 just seemed like a good way to start National Hospice and Palliative Care Month."
Attendees at the annual Marquette County Bells event Thursday honored hospice patients, past and present at the Marquette Commons. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Samantha Collins, director of volunteers and outreach at Lake Superior Hospice, said the event doubled in size from last year.
"Bells for Hospice is a great opportunity for the community, and having both hospice organizations come together and remember those whose lives have been touched by hospice care," Collins said.
LSH is an independent non-profit with 30 years of experience in hospice care, Collins said.
Kevin Taylor of Silver Creek Church in Harvey offered prayer before the bells were rung.
"We (our church) deal with families from hospice all the time and I understand how important this program is to comfort them, be there near the end of their life," Taylor said.
Friends, family, volunteers and hospice employees gathered outside the commons to listen to the symbolic bells rung at St. Peter Cathedral.
Following the remembrance, everyone in attendance, including bell choirs from a variety of different churches in the area, joined in a rendition of "Amazing Grace."
Chyrl Hemmila of Negaunee attended the bell ringing in memory of her father, Raymond Jarvi, who passed away in the mid 1990s while in the care of the Upper Peninsula Home Health & Hospice. Jarvi was in hospice care for a few weeks before he lost his battle with cancer, his daughter said.
"The hospice organization was a tremendous help to my family. Having health experts answer any questions and give peace of mind to my family at such a sad time. It really made a difference," Chyrl Hemmila said.
Just the LSH alone has 80 volunteers who give their free time to hospice patients visiting homes and helping in any way they can.
Matt Keiser can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.