What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. For My Hospice Ambassadors, like Elleah Tooker, it means acting as a leader in their state to support Medicare’s first coordinated care model and protect the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

My Hospice Ambassadors are hospice and palliative care professionals with an interest in advocacy who work with NHPCO to facilitate on-going outreach and relationship development with federal policymakers.

Here Ambassador Elleah Tooker answers what My Hospice means to her:

Tell us a little bit about your role.

My role with the Center for Education and Advance Care Planning (CEACP) is to offer comprehensive end-of-life planning along with educational resources for our community members. We have developed tools and educational resources to improve end-of-life planning for our community at all levels with the goal focused on exposing the conversation. Through training and panel discussions, we are able to have trusted advisors and clinicians thoughtfully guide their clients’/patients’ planning and empower individuals to document their end-of-life wishes and share them with their loved ones.

With this in mind, my role is to engage the community at all levels, to educate on end-of-life issues. I organize trusted advisor panels for the public as well as create materials to bring into local universities such as Notre Dame, Indiana University (IU) South Bend and Valparaiso University. I organize and host events such as “Death by Chocolate” and “Cupcakes to Die for” which aim to engage the community in discussions about end-of-life.

How did you first get involved with hospice?

My first interaction with the Hospice Foundation and Center for Hospice Care began with this position as the Community Education Coordinator. Before this, I had not had any experiences with hospice care personally. When Edo Banach was visiting our Mishawaka campus, I was able to learn more about the MyHospice movement and was invited to also join this grassroots effort.

What do you like best about your job?

Engaging with community members at all levels and being able to expose them to end-of-life discussions. I am in awe at what we are able to achieve by normalizing these conversations to our community members. Legislatively, I enjoy advocating with NHPCO and engaging our legislators in our conversations about hospice. We are extremely fortunate to have representative Jackie Walorski supporting the Rural Access to Hospice Act. Her re-introduction of the bill was extremely exciting to see as one of her constituents.

What motivates your advocacy and why do you think others should get involved?

My advocacy is motivated by my passion for helping our community members. I’ve always known that I wanted to work with people and help those who don’t have a voice; this position as an advocate has allowed me to help speak on behalf of our community and advocate for communities all over Indiana. End-of-life rights and care should be something that we all advocate for, I believe that others should get involved to speak not only for themselves but for those that aren’t aware of their voice yet.

What does My Hospice mean to you?

I think My Hospice means my choice for end-of-life care. We have a right to choose how our end-of-life care is carried out and to have our physicians, care providers and family honor that choice.

We invite you to keep promoting the power of hospice by joining the My Hospice campaign. Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter or share your My Hospice story with us.