What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. For My Hospice Ambassadors, like Natalie McNeal, 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 Natalie McNeal shares what My Hospice means to her:

Tell us a little bit about your role.

I am the Executive Director at Wellstar Community Hospice and have been with Wellstar for just over 4 years. As an executive director of hospice in a fully integrated health care system, I am an active participant in ensuring patient preferences are honored through the continuum of care. I participate in quality improvement initiatives not only in the hospice group, but also across our system. Regulatory compliance, accreditation standards, and financial performance are the other pieces of my role where I dedicate my time. I am the fund manager for our hospice foundation funds; these funds are used for our bereavement camp, staff and community hospice education, and patient experience service enhancements.

How did you first get involved with hospice?

I began my career in healthcare as a nursing home administrator. I always appreciated the layers of care and support that hospices brought to our patients and their families and felt a comradery with the hospice teams that provided care. After working closely with several hospices in our area, one approached me about my passion and their desire to build similar relationships with other area skilled nursing facilities. From there, I joined their team and have never looked back. I have no doubt hospice is where I belong!

What do you like best about your job?

In my role, I don’t see many patients routinely, but I do see our team members who provide direct care. I enjoy removing barriers and supporting their needs to best support our patients. I love being part of a system where we are a piece of the continuum because there is often a trust established before admission to hospice.

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

One of my aunts was disabled and required extensive care for activities of daily living. I grew up watching my grandparents advocate for her. I saw that their voice not only changed the landscape of services available for their disabled daughter, but also for many other people in Georgia needing assistance with similar daily activities. Their consistent message of hope and change made a significant difference and they were just two people. Hospice employs many more people, and if we can find our voice and advocate for our patients in a similar way, I can only imagine the support we can build.

What does My Hospice mean to you?

My Hospice is about being proud of the care we provide to our patients. It means we find and celebrate our successes, our similarities, and our differences as an industry. My Hospice means that we speak for those without a voice. Taking the time to reflect on what we do, how we deliver care, and learning from our experiences deepens our commitment to our values. My Hospice, through this reflection, encourages transformation of ourselves as we journey with our patients and their loved ones.