What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. For Emily, it means a family connection.

As Medicare’s first coordinated care model, we must protect the services received in hospice through the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

I grew up knowing what hospice is. My aunt Kathy, who was like a second mom to me, was a hospice nurse for most of her career. I knew that hospice came to your home when you were dying. I knew that my friends didn’t need to be afraid when their grandparents got sick, because hospice could help.

It struck me in fifth grade how powerful that message was. To me, hospice was very normal, and I never realized that people may not be able to access that care or even know what it is. I wanted to be a writer from a young age, and in fifth grade my class made our own mini newspapers. For my feature article, I interviewed Kathy about her work in hospice. After reading that article, my teacher told me she had a family member who had received hospice care and said people like Kathy are angels. I began to understand how special and important hospice is to all different kinds of people.

After I finished graduate school, I knew I wanted to work in the nonprofit field. I applied to a job at NHPCO just because I knew how excited Kathy would be when I told her about it. Throughout my time at NHPCO, I’ve learned so much more about hospice and palliative care. I understand more of the intricacies – and challenges – of the policy. I’ve met interdisciplinary team members at our conference, so many of whom remind me so much of Kathy with their caring hearts and sense of humor. And I’ve heard the stories of patients and families who have received hospice and palliative care and learned what a difference it has made in their daily lives.

A lot of NHPCO staff members are comfortable sharing their personal connection to hospice, which is often that a loved one received care. While I haven’t had that kind of experience, it’s even more special to me that my aunt Kathy was my connection to hospice. I love sharing my work with her and knowing that family is what brought me here.

Now more than ever, I am so thankful to be part of an organization and field that is leading the healthcare system in how to treat people like people.

By Emily Van Etten, NHPCO Communications Specialist

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.