Bells for Hospice

Local hospice staff and volunteers, as well as families of hospice patients ring a choir of bells as the clock strikes noon on Friday during the Marquette County Bells for Hospice event at the Marquette Commons.The event, organized by U.P. Home Health and Hospice and Lake Superior Life Care and Hospice, was held in conjunction with the National Bells for Hospice event. It aimed to honor hospice patients who have passed away, as well as their families, while spreading awareness of hospice services. (Journal photos by Amy Grigas)

MARQUETTE — As the clocks struck noon on Friday in Marquette, a choir of handbells joined church bells to honor and recognize hospice patients who have passed away, as well as the families who have lost a loved one under hospice care.

The Marquette County Bells for Hospice event, which was organized by U.P. Home Health & Hospice and Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice in conjunction with the national Bells for Hospice event, was held at the Marquette Commons on Friday, giving participants a chance to join in the bell choir and engage in fellowship.

By providing a space to honor and remember those who have passed while under hospice care, the event aimed to provide comfort and support for those who have lost a loved one, organizers said.

“It’s very emotional and symbolic,” said Jennifer Voegtline, CEO of Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice. “With the bells ringing, people can really feel the power of what hospice provides and (it offers) a way to remember their loved ones.”

The event also marked the beginning of National Hospice and Palliative Care month and sought to help spread the word about what hospice is, and how it can help patients and their families.

“It’s to bring awareness and educate everyone about hospice,” said Jennie Garrett-Bureau, executive director at U.P. Home Health & Hospice. “We want patients that have a life-limiting diagnosis to get into hospice care earlier than later.”

Hospice care, which is “considered to be the gold standard for quality, compassionate care during a life-limiting diagnosis,” is provided by “a team of experts in medical care, pain management, emotional and spiritual support, and volunteers who all tailor their skills to the individual’s wishes,” organizers said in a press release.

“We have many different disciplines, we have nurses, we have social workers,” Garrett-Bureau said. “We can help them through the process with their families.”

It’s important to recognize that hospice is “about living, not dying,” Garrett-Bureau said. Furthermore, Voegtline emphasized that “people in hospice actually live longer than those who aren’t under hospice care.”

Hospice aims to provide care for the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of patients and families.

“These providers specialize in palliative care and work closely with staff and volunteers to address all the symptoms of illness, with the aim of promoting comfort and dignity,” the press release states.

Through the team-based, individualized approach of hospice care, providers work to support the family and recognize “every family’s needs are a little bit different,” Voegtline said, noting that hospice care can be provided in a person’s home, a nursing or assisted living facility or a hospice house, such as Marquette’s Trillium House.

“It’s a sacred space, being able to be in someone’s home during those days and being invited in,” Voegtline said. “It’s a privilege that our nurses have and they’re just the most compassionate people that I’ve ever met.”

Throughout the National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, both nonprofit hospice agencies will continue to raise funds and awareness.

U.P. Home Health & Hospice will be offering educational videos on its Facebook page each Saturday, Garrett-Bureau said.

“We are going to be doing some educational things on Facebook and we’re trying to get out into the community to do some more education on what hospice care is,” she said.

Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice will be offering Casual for a Cause events throughout the month of November. Participating organizations can invite employees to wear jeans or other casual clothes to work on a selected day for a donation, with stickers supplied by the hospice agencies. The day and the donation amount can be chosen by the participating organization, Voegtline said.

In conjunction with Thomas Theatre Group, Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice is inviting veterans and their families to a showing of “Field of Dreams” at 1:10 p.m. Monday with free admission, popcorn and soda for veterans at Thomas Theatre in Marquette.

Admission for family and friends is $5, with a $5 popcorn and soda combo also offered for family and friends.

The event is also supported by the Superior Health Foundation and UP Health System Home Care and Hospice. Attendees are asked to RSVP to 906-225-7760 as space is limited.

For more information on U.P. Home Health & Hospice, call 906-225-4545, visit www.uphomehealth.org or find its Facebook page. To learn more about Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice, call 906-225-7760, visit www.lakesuperiorhospice.org or it on Facebook.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.